I don’t usually know what it is that makes me depressed and/or racked with anxiety. That’s obvious, I suppose, because if I did know, I would be able to effect a cure. As it is, I rely on drugs and therapy. Today, I will undoubtedly know the reason for my anxiety and stress. I’m pretty sure the result won’t make me literally depressed. Yes, it’s the England team.
The excess heat of this bonkers summer didn’t exactly assist my sleep last night but I did wake up a few times thinking about, not worrying about, the football. Now I am up and about and I can think of little else.
England v Sweden in the Quarter Finals of the World Cup. Who’d have thunk it? I am so used to losing that I did not expect to escape the group section of this year’s tournament. I am still in a state of shock at having finally won a penalty shoot out, this time against Columbia. There remain traces of euphoria, too. How will it go today?
I can say, with great confidence, that I do not have a clue how it will go today. I only have a gut feeling which is that the game will appear to last forever. Whereas the clock ticked over relatively quickly during last night’s epic between Belgium and Brazil, you just know time will slow down if we are leading at any point today. And logic can only take you so far.
No game of football was ever won on paper because if it was, we’d be all but home and dry. Man for man, we are far better than Sweden. I doubt that more than one or two of their players would get in our team. But we rate them highly because they are, as a team, greater than their individual components. And they are big, athletic blokes.
I have some Swedish ancestry but that makes no difference to me today. I was born in England and have lived here all my life. I never want anyone else but England to win, not even when we are playing the Netherlands, the country of my mother and her family. Of course, I am proud of my diverse background but I can only write and speak how I feel. I am pro Europe, a devout remoaner, an internationalist by nature. However, this is where I live, where I was born, where my children were born. I don’t want to even think of supporting another country.
I would today prefer a straightforward victory, rather like our win against Panama. That is unlikely to happen because we are England. It will be close, it will be nerve-racking, my heart will be pounding at an unhealthy rate, my anxiety will reach hitherto unknown levels. If we lose, I will be sad and disappointed but I repeat: I won’t be depressed. Depression is an illness, not something that happens because of a football match.
Our manager Gareth Southgate has achieved the impossible. The England team is now popular, the players are likeable. The ugly decadence of the WAG era has been put firmly behind us, our boys really are proud to wear the shirt, to sing our dire national anthem.
Win or lose, it’s been a blast. My feeling is we will win, if only just about. In Harry Kane we have the one world class player on the pitch and in a match that appears to close to call, he could make the difference. But I don’t really know. With England, you never really know. I don’t know about World In Motion. It’s more like my bowels at the moment.