Today it seems that there’s only one thing the country is talking about. It’s on our mind, whether it weighs heavily or makes us proud, the night it nearly came home.
Now, this is not a clever commentary on the tournament, how we played, what we might have done differently. What would I know?!
All I know is that we got further in a men’s tournament than we ever have in my lifetime. I know we played with all we had and whilst I know there are now going to be all of those people telling us what Southgate should have done differently, he got us to that final, didn’t he? He gave us a team to be proud of. And I’ve a suspicion that if one or two of those penalty kicks had gone differently, he’d be hailed as a hero today.
For any team to win or lose a game like that on penalties if always grim, isn’t it? We were unlucky, well done to Italy.
For me, the night it nearly came home will be memories made for the kids.
This is the first major tournament that my son has enjoyed since he discovered a love for football last year. He loves football. If he’s not playing it, he’s watching it. If he’s not reading about it, he’s talking about it. To him, it’s the beautiful game.
Which has made this tournament a special one to me, experiencing it with him and through his eyes.
He’s had his wall chart, excitedly updating it after every game. He has watched so many of the games, and those games that he couldn’t watch past his bedtime, he caught all of those highlights.
Of course, he watched every England game, whatever the kick off time.
He offered a commentary throughout each game, supporting his team at every step.
He’s a Villa fan, so any appearances that Grealish made were very welcome, he got so excited whenever he saw him warming up to come on!
It’s been a family event. Even my girl watched a few games towards the end there, and football isn’t usually her thing these days. It’s been a month long adventure and England took us all the way to the end of the road.
It was fun, it was a pleasure (OK, there were times when it was a tad stressful!), and watching it with the kids absolutely made the tournament for me.
And today? They’re OK. Proud that we made it so far, proud that we played so well, looking forward to seeing the team go on beyond this.
My son doesn’t have the lifelong football experiences that the Husband and I have. He doesn’t know that last night was the closest we’ve come in quite some time. He doesn’t know what it means to go to penalties, and how that often pans out for England. He remains cheery and positive. And I love that happy optimism in him, let’s hope he keeps it!
After all, in his first major men’s tournament, England got all the way to the final. They played as a team, their behaviour on and off the pitch making them great role models for children everywhere. They played their hearts out. And that’s got to be something to celebrate and enjoy.
We’ll remember the night that it nearly came home.