• Mike Douglas

It's Not Coming Home


You may have noticed, there has been a big football competition on the tele lately. Yer, that football thing, it's FIFA World Cup time.

I used to watch football all the time. Maybe one live game a week and all the weekly Premier League highlights. However when I went to Australia I got used to not watching. I kept up with Football by listening to a couple of podcasts, mainly the Football Ramble. That was enough. I just kinda stopped watching.

In fact, when I did watch football, I was watching the mighty Melbourne Victory and not the Premier League.

I stopped going to men’s football too and found myself more likely to attend women’s games. I know some players and having a niece that loves football, so I want her to know women play too and there are professional women's teams and leagues.

The first game we went to, watching England in Southampton, she asked “Are they all girls? There’s no boys?”

So Football, and particularly men’s football has dropped down my priority list. In fact I don’t think I have watched more than two men’s matches in the last three years. On top of that, the occasional times I have followed a match online, thats often nothing to do with England or the top European Leagues (Come on Melbourne Victory).

That is until the World Cup. I really felt a swell of interest and a desire to watch England’s games and to see the as much of all the games as possible. In fact I watched highlights from all the group games.

The England games have been something else though. I missed the first game, so watched highlights and only saw part of the second game live. The third game, against Belgium, I missed but avoided the result and watched the full game the next day (before work, so no one could spoil it).

With the Belgium game being a bit of a dead rubber I wasn't too stressed about it. It was just nice to watch.

As for the knockout games, that has been stressful as. I have watched the three knockout games in a local pub (best not name it, some of the people seem sketchy as haha). I have been watching with Liam, a friend from school.

It’s been ace to stand (in the same place) in the pub for the games; chat, catch up, talk about how we would do it differently (and obviously better). Just to have some ‘man time’. It’s been nice, it's not something I really do that much of.

The stress levels have been something else. It really has been a rollercoaster. We have jumped for joy and shouted at the tv. We've stood silently waiting to see where the ball goes and frustrated as our players are fouled and time is wasted. Most importantly, for me, we experienced something cool and a few awesome moments in time.

I was really pleased we made it to the semifinals and so got to play the maximum number of games. It would have been amazing to play in the final, but then I would have wanted to win, you always want more.

I’ve enjoyed cheering on the team. Maguire, Pickford, Henderson, Kane all looked great to me. It didn’t seem to happen for Sterling, which is a shame because he is a decent player.

I have loved the camaraderie that Southgate has built around the team and I’m excited to see how we compete in the Euros in 2020. Gareth has acted professionally and respectfully through the competition and I have enjoyed seeing him lead our team.

In the semi final against Croatia we should have scored a second goal in the first half. We had all the play. But alas we didn't. Croatia were the better team after halftime and that’s the way it goes. I'm deflated, but not disappointed. The team did well and now we go into the third place playoff on Saturday. Time to show Belgium what we are made of and finish the World Cup with a win, and a medal... hopefully.

Come on England!

**Images from wix.com and fourfourtwo.com

#Football #Sport #WorldCup

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