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The World Cup just isn't my cup of tea - am I alone?

PUBLISHED: 14:31 20 June 2018 | UPDATED: 14:31 20 June 2018

England's Harry Kane (hidden) is mobbed by team-mates as he scores his side's first goal of the game during the World Cup Group G match against Tunisia at the Volgograd Arena. Picture: Owen Humphreys / PA Wire

England's Harry Kane (hidden) is mobbed by team-mates as he scores his side's first goal of the game during the World Cup Group G match against Tunisia at the Volgograd Arena. Picture: Owen Humphreys / PA Wire

PA Wire

Iasked my colleague Michael, in the Bury St Edmunds news bureau as I call it how things were going this week. He replied: "Our chances are slim."

“Are they?” I replied, not totally sure what he was on about as my question was really asking how he had enjoyed his weekend.

Michael went on: “The team is talented…well, we should get out of the group.”

I was tempted to ask what group we might be getting out of but Michael carried on, seemingly unable to stop.

“It’s a young and inexperienced team,” he pontificated. “I suspect we will go out in the quarter finals on penalties as we have done in the past. It’s exciting.”

“Is it really?” I was tempted to ask, as by now I had begun to understand he was talking about football, but didn’t dare in case he produced yet more unasked for World Cup punditry.

I say this because, to be honest the World Cup isn’t much fun for me. Even at school – and I was one of those that thought sport was something worth doing as it instilled, well I never did work out what – I remember asking a sports master the point of the game.

“To get the ball over the line,” he said, with a withering look.

“Yes, but what’s the point?” I persisted.

I never really got to the bottom of it and rather like the Tate Modern and the popularity of sweet chilli, sport, team sports in particular, remain a mystery.

Sport is like a joke the world enjoys but won’t let me in on.

And do you know, I think I am one of the lucky few?

Sport seems to dominate our national conversations in a way I’ve never really understood. This week I have seen a number of cars flying St George’s flag, making me wonder if there has been a revival in the veneration of the third century saint I hadn’t heard about. But of course it is all about Eng-er-land, isn’t it?

I’ve never felt comfortable with the jingoistic nationalism sport and football seems to provoke and I have yet to be persuaded that the Olympics, or any other such games, really help nation speak unto nation. Maybe it does occasionally, but sport seems to create difference rather than raise awareness of similarities.

Nicola Sturgeon’s unpleasant inability to support England in the contest, preferring the chances of Iceland, just goes to show not only how her whole political mission is based on creating attrition but how nasty the political side of sport really is.

Having said that I suppose sport isn’t meant to be political – but just like Eurovision – it often is. If it wasn’t, English supporters would never chant the likes of “two World Wars and one World Cup,” would they? And Nicola wouldn’t be drawn either way.

Anyway, as so called World Cup Fever grips I am trying to ignore it as best I can. Except it’s not easy, is it? It’s constantly on our television screens and on our radio waves. Perhaps this is just as well, as according to the Foreign Office, going to Russia might not be such a great idea.

“Due to heightened political tensions between the UK and Russia, you should be aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment at this time. If you’re currently in Russia or due to travel in the coming weeks, you’re advised to remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and avoid commenting publicly on political developments.”

Having said all that Pavarotti in 1990 did at least introduce me, then aged 15, to the delights of opera, so perhaps it isn’t all bad.

James’ Mail bag

Morning James, Once again your column makes me put down the paper to digest the content.

I have no predjudice against tattoos as such and I don’t think that I form particular opinions about those thus adorned. However, I have seen those that look to me to be attractive and some which are not. I’m thin on 
top and have a beard, and must admit to feeling frustrated at the constant comments about the sparcity of one and the profusion of the other!

Come to think of it, I never comment on anyone’s appearance because my dear mum told me it was rude. Treat others as you would be treated I think sums it up. Kindest regards, Bill

Are you already bored by the FIFA World Cup? Do you love it like Michael? Email James at james.marston@archant.co.uk

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