Well that's the World Cup over then, at least the BBC and ITV hyper-coverage. I know they will continue to go through the motions of showing and commentating on the remaining three matches, but for them it will not be the same. Yes, they will jemmy in references to Geoff Hurst and the Spirit of '66, and take every opportunity in these games to heap opprobrium on the match officials, accusing them of not being not up to the exacting standards of the Premier League, or whatever guise the English top division takes nowadays.
I wish they would get back to a proper naming convention for football in the UK. The top division was Division One when I were a lad and that is what it should be now. League 1 is now the name for what we would have labelled the Third Division. This latter-day trend to repackage things in a more dynamic and seductive manner is simply 'putting lipstick' on what, to all intents and purposes, is a slightly inferior product.
I do not mean any insult to lower division football here, merely pointing out that it is what it is: containing less able players or erstwhile top talent on the wane. However, it may also be the forum through which raw youth learn their trade, prior to moving through the ranks to stardom and the obscene riches that accompany the ride.
I remember the 2000 World Cup. At the time my working week was split between London and Edinburgh. Back then, all the national media and the hyped up English public were absolutely certain they would be bringing it home. No if. No but. No maybe. It was their destiny. I can't remember when they were knocked out but in my London office it was all everyone was talking about the day I was travelling home.
Back in the office the following Monday, the mood had changed somewhat. The air of anticipation no longer hung in the air. It was more akin to a sense of bereavement that I was met with when I hurried up the stairs, through reception, into the lift and up to my floor. The talking heads from the previous week were now quieted, the ever-present crowd around the water cooler, a kind of makeshift fan-zone, had subsided. The buzz had gone and the place was eerily quiet, with none of the usual pleasantries on offer.
As I sat at my desk in the open plan office, in deathly silence, I happened to notice a Welsh colleague across the way walking toward me with a spring in his step and the widest smile imaginable. He enquired: 'Ah Frank, I am a bit of a rugby man myself, but tell me, has the World Cup now ended, it appears people are no longer talking about it?'
That was a long three days in the office, surrounded by so many broken souls, their unfounded hopes having been dashed. I was happy to get back home to what felt like a buoyant Scotland. Unlike our friends, neighbours and work colleagues, next door there appeared a slightly stifled sense of joy in the passing. I can't remember why that was. I could Google it but I can't be bothered.
Oh, well, until the next time…
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