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17th Jul 2018

World Cup Comments: The bittersweet despair of the first post-World Cup week

The World Cup came and went in an ecstatic and fleeting four weeks. But what now? What are we to do with our lives after this?

Wayne Farry

We all knew the end of the World Cup was coming

From the end of the World Cup group stage you could see it on the horizon, just outside of your peripheral vision, in that weird blind spot on the bridge of your nose.

You could sense it, if only slightly. It hadn’t taken over, still thankfully superseded by the unbridled joy you were experiencing at that very moment, but you knew exactly how it would feel.

You’d felt it before, the longing and emptiness. The dreaded calm after the storm.

Then came the rain, as if it was scripted, to spell the end of a month of joyous sun and spectacular football the likes of which we’ll have to wait – at the very least – another eight and a half years for.

It was, as many pointed out, pathetic fallacy, just as the month prior had been.

For 30 days we had witnessed the evolution of one of the great World Cups. It was a tournament mired in the build up by controversy over the hosts and doubts over the entertainment value and efficacy of international football, until the sun came out.

World Cup

Within 45 minutes of the first game – as Russia demolished the Saudi Arabian defence like the Bolsheviks ending Romanov rule 100 years ago today no less – the doubts began to edge away, the sun beating softly on the back of your neck.

By the end of play on the second day of the tournament, as Cristiano Ronaldo rattled in a stunning free-kick to seal both a hat-trick for himself and a draw for Portugal against Spain, the doubts were gone, evaporated away in this new heatwave of reality.

For the next month we bathed in sun and football, lounging around like Futurama’s Hedonismbot; gorging ourselves on grapes, wine, goals and saves, before chucking exuberantly to ourselves at the latest hilarious VAR assisted controversy.

And then, like all of the best summers, it was gone in a flash.

In its aftermath we realise that, as momentous a time that it was, as good as the memories were, there were so many more things we could’ve done: gone to the beach again, had yet another barbecue, watched just one more game.

The rain which greeted the medal and trophy ceremony for the final was at once both a fitting ending and a depressing beginning; the turning of a page between summer and normal life, between the World Cup and not the World Cup.

World Cup

You would be forgiven for waking up on Monday with a momentary flutter of excitement which was most likely replaced, immediately and devastatingly, by the realisation.

The realisation that yes, indeed, it is over.

You will likely have made your way through the day, bravely wading through the quick sand of normality, long periods of regret only temporarily interrupted by sheer sadness while nostalgising about the tournament just gone, never ever to return.

It is this which makes the World Cup so heartbreakingly special.

The World Cup – at its best – is a microcosm of all that is good, in football and life, consolidated into four weeks.

From the end of one we wait in fevered anticipation for the beginning of the next, knowing all the while that it too will last for just four short, ecstatic weeks and once again we will be forced to wait.

And that is where we find ourselves now. Summer almost over, heading to the shops with our parents to pick up our Pepsi pencil cases, new pens and our Helix Oxford maths sets; as the school of the Premier League ominously awaiting our return.

Our summer romance with football is now at an end, and we go back to being placed in headlocks by Jose Mourinho, always acutely aware that Sam Allardyce is lurking, somewhere, ready to steal our lunches and douse them with gravy.