The beautiful sound of disappointment

Take what you need and be on your way

Love it or hate it, you can't really ignore the fact there is a football match on Sunday. You never know, it might even get a passing mention in the papers or on the telly.

So, as I sit here penning this missive, TV bods are busy beavering away in backrooms. They are preparing montages. They'll be two:

  1. The Glorious Victory montage       and also, crucially,
  2. The Gallant Loser montage

and someone, somewhere will get to make the *ultimate* decision - which song they'll play, if England lose.

That song will unleash a torrent of tears.
That song will be etched wretched in the collective unconciousness of England fans.
That song will become, briefly, the anthem to a nation of broken hearts.

...and then, as surely as night follows day, as cliches follow football, a few weeks or months from now, that song will simply fade away. Ignored. Foresaken. Unintentionally, but definitely, jettisoned into the bin of "things we don't like to be reminded of" and something other than a football match will have been lost. Such is the price of infamy. When Noel wrote "Stop, crying your heart out"  he said he knew "those *!&¬£ers" would play it when England lost... and he was right. Thing is, now it's no-ones favourite Oasis song.

This time, presumably, the TV bods will try to find something a bit more contemporary and desolate. Maybe they'll conjure something iconic. But they'll probably just go predictably John Lewis xmas ad and use a sad, minor-key, acoustic version of Sweet Caroline being earnestly sung by some gen-z ingenue or something similar.

How can we be so sure of all of this? Well, to coin a familiar paraphrase, everyone knows the score, we've heard it all before.

Some of us have been between the sticks long enough to remember the darkness of the old days. When football didn't really have a soundtrack. The times before football even thought of coming home. When it had packed its bags and left in a toxic haze of tribal violence, incompetent organisation and social disdain. Remember Spain '82, Hillsborough or Heysel? Millwall bricks, running trains or Chelsea smiles? No? Good. That's probably for the best. It was all pretty grim. And not just off the pitch, but on it too. Remember when Steve Bull was a "solid midfield option", when Carlton Palmer played as well as anybody or when (and this really is going back a bit) Mike Duxbury just ran around a lot?

Whatever happens on Sunday, whether this is your 1st time or your 21st time, there are already some indelible crumbs of comfort. This England squad is collectively, and by far, the most talented, professional and level-headed group of players to have ever pulled on the shirt. They are young enough, that they will get better. They have already been more successful than any other England team in the last 55 years. And they can be proud of that.

As fans, we can only be proud of how we react to whatever happens next. The team have already done their bit. The rest is up to us.

Of course, all of that is just words. And it won't matter. Because, we're absolutely, definitely going to win 17-1 on Sunday. Everyone will score. Even Pickford will get a hat-trick and momentarily, everything will be joyous and right with the world...

And later in the cold light of another, more somnolent day, in an underwhelming corner of some unheralded TV editing suite, someone will casually, but ruefully erase the "20210711_Euro2020_Gallant_Loser_Montage_4K_5m36s.mp4" file from their server, knowing that their preparations were in vain.

Then, briefly, they'll smile, as it dawns upon them that, this time (more than any other time) the Anthem to a Nation of Broken Hearts was left unsung, and unsullied.


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