Yes I got suckered in. Admit it you did too. All the chat about the low expectations of the England football team perversely got my hopes up. I blame David Beckham too. I was quite happily ignoring all the build up to Brazil until his journey of self-discovery up the Amazon, and who could resist a beautiful man bearing his soul as he exposed that H&M underwear model bod. Well I am only human.
So I was in, I couldn’t get enough of the stories from the Favelas. Of the mum Rosie who provided so much love and fun for her children whilst living on the rubbish dump that also the workplace. I was very humbled by the simple easter egg hunt of hens’ eggs wrapped in old newspaper she created that resulted in unmistakable glee from her children. Despite living in abject poverty their smiles lit up the screen when describing the game and the full belly from the feast afterwards. It is easy to generalise but we seem to dissatisfied so easily by our lot in the first world. Spoilt in fact. Each of us little emperors stamping our foot when the smallest whims don’t go in our favour.
I had paid such scant attention to the World Cup this year I found myself on the wrong side of the politics too. An expression on Facebook of my mounting excitement found me told in no uncertain terms that this World Cup was an abomination to the poor of Brazil who couldn’t eat a football to survive. A quick lesson via very funny British comedian (but on US tv) outlining everything that was wrong with Fifa soon put me straight.
I do wonder how Fifa can get away with it, especially the Budweiser Bill. It does all look “a bit arrogant” Fifa official.
But despite all of this, the night of the first England match I was football crazy again. The previous matches had been so exciting, so full of drama and goals I was getting lured in. Brazil, Mexico, Holland, Spain, France, Ivory Coast. Every night a mouth-watering prospect that didn’t disappoint. N and I had been faithfully completing the wall chart. Already I couldn’t imagine a night without a game. I certainly didn’t want to miss a minute of our first match even at 11.00 on a Saturday night. My expectations were low but in my heart, well before that first whistle anyhow, my hopes were flying high.
Surely Roy’s young team would rise the occasion and do us proud.
So we lost the first match. This is England, we like to make things difficult for ourselves don’t we? We could come back from this defeat. We had played well, we were just lucky and it was with these thoughts I prepared to watch the match with the children. H has been enjoying watching football more and I had been sharing with him my wealth of knowledge which was mainly watching One night in Turin the superb documentary about our glorious campaign in Italia 90. That tournament had started uncertainly too. Everything was going to be ok. H & N were excited. We had put a flag up both in the car and the house. N was flag-waving during the national anthem, which I was singing lustily. My children had the football bug, and I had encouraged and delighted in it and we were in for a fun happy night.
Well you know how it goes. Lost again. My son shouting at tv… Ref Ref how can you not see that as the Uruguay player stuck his arm at Sterling’s windpipe… These Uruguay players are so dirty. The hope of the Rooney’s equaliser, abject the despair when Suverz scored again with 5 minutes or so to the end of the match. The desperate last minute ultimately futile English scrabbles to get another goal. The pleading deals being offered up to an indifferent God during last minutes of injury time. “I will not have a chocolate again this week if England scored” The gutting blow in the heart and solar plexus when the final whistle blows.
What was I thinking? I was used to this torture. I was a resigned, cynical, battle hardened England (and Leeds) fan. I knew this would be how the story would end. But my innocent children, they knew nothing of this, they were babes in arms. What was I thinking exposing them, nay actively encouraging them, inviting this pain into their lives. This was a kin to letting my children watch a video nasty. I monitor my children’s internet use. I tried very hard to shield my children from any none-age inappropriate viewing. Hell I have even spoken to my soon to be a teenager son about how corrosive porn would be if he was exposed to it at this tender time of his life. As I looked at them so down beat and dismayed I felt like I had ensnared them like the most diabolical drug dealer pushing a narcotic high that lasted for the first 20 minutes then would condemn the user to a life of never ending misery.
WHAT WAS I THINKING? I had wept for days when my favourite tennis player had been knocked out of Wimbledon at the same age.
I tried to show them the picture of distraught Gerrard being comforted by Suarez after the match as the true message from the game. As history will attest, Suarez and his teeth has been somewhat discredited since that gesture of good sportmanship. But it turns out that either my children weren’t quite so involved as I thought during the game, or had already an inbuilt immune system to England losing, or they were much more resilient that I was at their age. And now for the first time time since England went home so anonymously I felt happy that I hadn’t shattered my children’s innocence. Now then, all I need to know, who is the team to support for the rest of the tournament, Brazil or Germany?