The thing about sporting tournaments when you’re English, is that you really just never know what’s going to happen. For those of us that enjoy watching sport, watching any English national team play will either lead to utter joy or complete despair. All too often it’s been the latter! And there just never seems to be any middle ground and you really have no idea which may it might go.
England, as a sporting nation, are incredible underachievers. We’ve won our fair share of trophies and major competitions in our time, but we’ve never been consistently good – we don’t win two or three major trophies on the bounce, or even make finals on a regular basis. And I’m really only talking about the most popular sports here – England seem to be excellent in sports that don’t get very much (or any) media coverage. Not sure if that’s coincidental or not?!
There have been so many times that England have been on the brink of something great and then one tiny (or sometimes major) mistake and everything falls to pot. It almost always happens. You could say it’s just bad luck, but surely no one is THAT unlucky?! Perhaps that’s just the way we’re built and it really is just an English trait, to lure people into a false sense of security that we’re awesome, only to go and screw it all up?!
Most English spectators these days have the attitude that one of two results is likely – 1.) we’ll be winning until the very last breath of the game when the opposition will clinch a winning point, goal or whatever, or 2.) we’re English, of course we won’t win, we’ll be trounced from the beginning. Anything other than one of those two outcomes is a bit of bonus. And it’s not because we’re not good at that sport that we think that, it’s just that we just never seem to live up to the expectation we put on ourselves.
That expectation is felt for good reason though. We are an amazingly talented bunch really, when you stop and think about it. Some of the most well known sporting stars of today and in history are English. And everyone always seems so interested in England, we must be doing something right. But we just never really seem to live up to our potential. We never properly showcase our talent, we tend to showcase our Englishness.
Despite all of that it doesn’t stop us having that secret little bit of hope that perhaps, finally, England are actually going to be good and we’re going to win something. One of the unofficial anthems for England is “Land of Hope and Glory”. Well we’ve generally got plenty of hope, less of the glory sadly.
Having been a European and World champion myself for England in my chosen sport, I know what it takes to get, and to stay, at the top of your game. It’s HARD work. But so rewarding. You end up experiencing every emotion that a human could possibly experience, but the pride you feel from representing your country is a feeling that can rarely be matched. That feeling of pride is only ever enhanced when you become a champion. It certainly evokes a huge wave of patriotism inside you!
So I’d like to think I have some sympathy when England fail to live up to their expectation, having been there myself. However that sympathy doesn’t stop me holding my head in my heads at the end of a match, in utter despair that, yet again, England have screwed up!
Oh what fun it is to be English! I wouldn’t have it any other way though!