The World Cup is here. THE BLOODY WORLD CUP IS HERE! Okay, everybody stay calm. It’s happening. I’ve spent as much time since the opening ceremony on Thursday watching games as I have trying to remember to breath.
I love the World Cup and have done for as long as it’s been possible. Well, since 1998. I was too young (18 months) to remember 1990 and the lack of qualification in ‘94 largely stopped me supporting England in that tournament.
But 1998, that’s when it happened. I was 9 years old and it got me. I cried when Beckham got sent off against Argentina. I cried again when England lost later that night on penalties. I still remember being sat on my Grandad’s sofa, balling my eyes out and wondering why Sol Campbell’s surname had a ‘P’ in it. I probably cried at that too.
The next day I went into school and a lad from my class cheerily offered up “Not to worry, there’s always next year!”
There’s always next year? Always fucking next year!? Are you joking, you chirpy little bellend? What an arsehole. What an absolute idiot! 4 years! That’s how long it was to the next World Cup. 4 actual years! That’s half of my whole life over again. I’d be well on my way to pubes by the next time England play in a World Cup. ‘Always next year.’ He’d never make it to pubes if he ever kept on like this.
Inconsolable, that’s what I was. And I think that shows now, whenever a World Cup comes around.
I cherish it now. Preparation starts about 6 months before; the key dates get plotted into the diary with more importance than any birthday or wedding (“Sorry I can’t attend your special day, I’ve already taken 3 weekends off this month for the football”). Every possible football account is followed on twitter, the main result being that you find out the same team news around 300 different ways. Wall charts are bought, predictions are made and, most importantly, sticker books filled in.
My World Cup sticker addiction has taken over this year. To the point where daily limits have had to be set on how much we’re allowed to spend on sticker packs (5 packs, £2.50). This was due to my local newsagent telling us local kids were devastated after we’d bought out their monthly batch on the first day.
Finally, bets have to be placed. I don’t bet usually. And I love watching any football for the sake of football. But when you’re on your 8th game in 3 days and Iran are parking the bus against Nigeria, putting a quid on how many corners are going to take place in the next 5 minutes really gives the game an added purpose needed past midnight.
All in all, I’ll try and watch every game. My girlfriend will likely leave me and England will promise, then disappoint. But, hey, there’s always next year!