England take on San Marino this evening in their World Cup 2014 qualifier.
I write about football because I have a great enthusiasm for the game but I must admit my interest in and tolerance for watching England is minimal. That’s just a personal preference.
When I was a little girl my mum took me to Euro 2000 in Belgium. I had an England shirt back then, despite being Canadian-born, as I had grown up watching football in this country.
It had become part of my family’s weekly ritual – watching football on the telly at the weekends and as the good girl I was I got into the spirit. I loved David Beckham, despite being an Arsenal fan and think I kind of fancied Michael Owen (not now, obviously).
I must have been 12 years old when my mum announced we were going to see England in the knockout rounds of Euro 2000. What actually transpired was I saw Romania, not England play Italy in the quarterfinals as England failed to make it out of Group A and I haven’t forgiven them.
I shall never forget Phil Neville conceding a penalty in 89th minute of the last group game. England had been tied 2-2 which would have seen them through to the knockouts. They lost 3-2 and I saw Romania instead which I have to say I enjoyed very much anyway.
I’m now 24 and have come to terms with the trauma (I kid – I still cry when I see Phil Neville but I think that’s probably true of a lot of people) but these days I’m just really not that into Eng-er-land. I can’t stand them, actually.
I can’t stand the media’s jingoistic xenophobia and wartime patriotism of Our Boys and all that draconian rhetoric. I can’t stand the players – thank goodness John Terry retired, every time I see him play football I feel like I need a shower.
I can’t stand a lot of England fans either – the way some of them behave abroad is obnoxious and embarrassing. The way they behave in pubs when England lose is disgraceful.
I can’t stand the way England play – they’re so boring and inept most of the time. But, most of all, as the song goes, I can’t stand losing. And that is all England ever do.
Every competition ends in tears and somewhere rattling around in some corner of my subconscious there is a 12-year-old girl in an England shirt hiding behind the sofa as Ioan Viorel Ganea’s penalty sails past Nigel Martyn.