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The World Cup dreams that you dare to dream...

PUBLISHED: 06:46 28 June 2018

Fans watching the England game against Panama in The Railway Tavern in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Fans watching the England game against Panama in The Railway Tavern in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

Are you daring to dream yet? David Clayton - who remembers watching the 1966 World Cup final - is tempted...

How’s your World Cup going? Mine’s OK, thanks, but as my wife observed with a tinge of nostalgia - having brought up two sons for whom a World Cup meant chaotic bedroom decorations with badly-applied sticky tape, a certain amount of colourful language directed at the TV and jumping around on the sofas - that domestically the whole occasion is more subdued now.

The boys have grown up and left the family home but fortunately I managed to borrow a teenage Grandson with whom to watch England v Panama and then impressed him momentarily with the fact I’ve met and talked to Gareth Southgate. He was the manager of Middlesbrough and I was temporarily in charge of BBC Tees. He came to declare open a new part of the building. He was calm and affable and not dissimilar from how he comes across now.

With England on the way, so to speak, it’s all ratcheted up a tad, but in between the euphoria of our national team’s progress, there’s many a match to watch, and I have done. The football has ranged from impressive through pedestrian down to combative, not unlike the supporters, because part of the joy of watching the world’s football is seeing how fans react to their team and there’s plenty of crowd shots filling our screens. When England aren’t playing, it’s a problem working out who you want to win. It can be a difficult decision, but catching a glimpse of the fans helps. Their collective exuberance can win me over because to really enjoy a match I have to declare an allegiance, albeit silently and to myself.

There are a few ‘givens’. Straightaway whichever side is playing Germany I want them to win or, if they’re definite underdogs, an embarrassing (for Germany) draw will suffice. The penalty shoot-out hurt goes back a long way despite our fabled victory in 1966. So I’ll immediately side with Germany’s opponents - hence I was very Swedish over the weekend. I’m happy to be temporarily aligned with our Scandinavian mates across the North Sea.

However, I’m struggling with cross-Channel soccer support. My ‘entente’ is not very ‘cordiale’ for reasons I can’t quite identify other than residual memories of obtuse French farmers blockading things. I’m a bit gung-ho when Argentina falter, simply because of that preposterous Maradona “Hand of God” goal and I’m prepared to hold a grudge for a long time! In fact I rather punch the air, in a style not dissimilar to Argentina’s footballing hero, when they concede a goal.

Leaving aside geo-political complexities, I’ve gone a bit Russian in terms of my transient football support simply because I’m rather pleased for the host nation as it all seems to be going off rather well. I’ve a sister in Switzerland and another in Australia, so that support from me is sorted. After that, my personal allegiances are by no means clear-cut. In fact you could aptly describe them as fickle.

I’m old enough to be able to declare “I was there” for the 1966 England victory. I say “there” in the sense I was in our lounge on Burgh Road in Gorleston with the curtains closed so you could actually view the flickering, low-definition, 19-inch black and white TV picture. We had VAR back then – a Very Accommodating Russian linesman. See what I did there? OK, he was really from Azerbaijan!

On that heady July afternoon in 1966, my Mother turned a blind eye to that otherwise heinous crime of jumping up and down on the settee as Kenneth Wolstenholme uttered those immortal words, “Some people are on the pitch. They think it’s all over. It is now!” The magnitude and euphoria of that win has compounded in my memory over succeeding World Cups simply because it promised so much and we’ve never got back there.

Mind you, the odd pundit is daring to believe this time around. If it happens, that’ll be me jumping up and down on the sofa.

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