Sports

The World Cup journey was enough for many in England

It's been a weird summer in England so far.

The country's political establishment has again gone into meltdown over Brexit, two more people were exposed to a nerve agent, one died, and a surprising sequence of blue skies has turned the normally green grass golden brown.

It's actually been hot!

Normally, even one of those issues would be considered momentous enough to dominate debate in this country for days, if not weeks.

But instead, those topics have been overshadowed by talk of football "coming home".

An English sporting achievement, a third ever World Cup semi-final, crossed a rare threshold — it took on a wider cultural significance.

For the uninitiated, this song is where the "it's coming home" slogan began.

External Link: The 'origins of the 'it's coming home" slogan

It was written for the 1996 European Championship, which was held in England.

According to the sport's governing body FIFA, football was founded in this country in 1863 — thus back then football was "coming home".

Over the past two and a bit decades, the term's been adopted and adapted by die-hard English fans, sung and stated repeatedly over the years as much in jest or blind hope.

But this tournament turned out differently.

England defied expectations, won a dreaded penalty shootout and some supporters dared to dream their team could go all the way — the draw was very favourable.

The slogan was amplified through social media and the hashtag #itscominghome.

The memes were relentless, this video of Vladimir Putin playing the song on a grand piano is a personal favourite.

External Link: putin video tweet

But it wasn't just a digital phenomenon.

People were talking about it on buses and trains, at Wimbledon and Lord's, in parks and pubs.

My two-and-a-half-year-old daughter surprised me one morning by asking for the "football song".

She'd heard it at her nursery.

External Link: glenday tweet

It all ended in heartbreak of course — a 2–1 defeat to a better Croatian team.

In typical England fashion, the side missed a few chances to win the game and this weekend is playing for third place, not the Cup.

It's not coming home — a fact, I've been repeatedly told, has brought considerable enjoyment to a lot of people Down Under.

Again, social media has been brutal.

External Link: Smashing Record tweet

For many in England though, the unexpectedly long World Cup journey was enough.

For a brief moment a divided nation did seem to be propelled slightly closer together.

From a distance this will seem like a cliche, but there was a palpable sense of optimism about a diverse team that reflected the make-up of modern Britain.

Comparisons have been made with the buzz that surrounded the London 2012 Olympics or the country's last World Cup semi-final berth in 1990.

But given that hopes were so low before the tournament in Russia began, many think even more people were excited this time around.

Normal service has now resumed.

World Cup coverage has been bumped a long, long way down the TV bulletins and the arrival of Donald Trump has shone a spotlight again on the nation's gaping Brexit wounds.

But this is a summer that will be remembered by many here mostly with smiles not sadness.

English fans are already talking about next time.

They're hoping, dreaming their young team can go one better in Qatar in 2022.

Original Article

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