Sunday, June 27, 2010

The pain of beIng an England fan

I think it's hard to relate to an American how hard it is be an England football (soccer) fan. The exception is probably a Red Sox fan and fortunately I'm married to one.

Maria has known me long enough to live through two World Cups and an aborted European Championship that England failed to qualify for. She has seen me get deliriously excited only to have my hopes dashed upon the rocks.

All too often those rocks have been on German shores. And unsurprisingly to any lifelong England fan, after failing to secure the group in this year's World Cup, England found themselves once again facing "the old enemy". Germany were touted as a young team and unlikely to fare well. They had struggled against Ghana but convincingly beaten Australia. England who were unbeaten in all their qualifying matches had had an indifferent start to their campaign but were coming off the back of fairly resounding win over Slovenia. It was "The Three Lions" against "The Young Lions".

As always the UK press went into overdrive. Three of England's (supposed) stars were portrayed on the cover of a national tabloid as lions, complete with fangs and all. How could England fail? Their tails were up and they were playing a young and naive team. What everybody seemed to forget was that we were playing Germany, a team that England had failed to beat in a World Cup game since 1966 and if you don't know what happened in that game then get googling. Coupled with this was the fact that England had failed to set the World Cup 2010 alight. I had witnessed the worst England performance ever in their game against Algeria. How could a team that could not beat Algeria beat a German team no matter how inexperienced that team may be?

So today at 9pm in the evening (EST) we all know what happened - England's "Three Lions" were mauled by "The Young Lions". The English press will all cry that had Lampard's (legitimate) goal been allowed the game would have played out differently. Not true. Germany outplayed England at every level. They exposed England's non-existent midfield and ripped through their shaky back four. As for our goalkeeper, he seemed superglued to his line and would surely have stopped at least two goals had he come out to challenge the German forwards.

It was truly a dismal performance by England and a fantastic performance by the Germans.

Yes, I'm praising 'The Old Enemy'. Not something I do lightly as I have seen England fall to Germany so many times now. My hatred for the German football team has reached unhealthy heights in the past. The difference before is that England have gone down fighting. They have had that 'never say die' attitude displayed so well by this year's US team. This year they just rolled over.

They showed up at this year's competition, unbeaten and with a sense of entitlement that was practically palpable. When England's group was drawn, the English press announced 'EASY' which stood for 'England, Algeria, Slovenia, Yanks'. It was practically guaranteed that England would sail through the group phase. Arrogant idiots!

So today England disappointed me so much that I find myself feeling something I've never felt before as an England fan - shame. I really am ashamed to call myself an England supporter. Today I pretty much stayed in the house, afraid that I might bump into my Algerian neighbor. Not because he will make fun of me, he's too polite and respectful for that. I am ashamed to talk to him. I didn't even watch the end of the game (I've never failed to see a game out). And frankly if I was in the stands at that stadium I would have booed my team. Right now I'd even buy a German fan a beer.

Congratulations Germany. I would cheer you against your next opponents Argentina if it weren't for the fact that I had money on the South Americans.

Sean 'The Dad'.

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