It feels like only a few short weeks ago that the whole of England rode the crest of a World Cup wave which took the national team all the way to the semi-finals.
They were sun-drenched, halcyon days, but as that famous football saying goes, Nations League football waits for no man. And in the past three months, the group stages of UEFA’s shiny new tournament flashed past quicker than you could say, “So how does the Nations League work again?” for the 827th time.
After recovering from an opening game defeat at home to Spain, England ended up topping their group, qualifying for next summer’s finals in the process.
Remarkably, they are also now favourites to win the entire thing ahead of other finalists: the Netherlands, Switzerland and Portugal. There is every chance they can go and win real silverware for the first time since the 1966 World Cup.
That startling fact got us wondering: what would happen if they actually went and did it? Could the nation cope with the outpouring of joy?
Would every child born next summer be named Gareth, regardless of their gender?
We’ve taken a peek into Paddy’s crystal ball and visualised seven surprising things that would happen as a result of England’s success. And it’s not all positive…
Look at those limbs, love it! pic.twitter.com/R19kapsNHF
— Football Away Days (@FBAwayDays) June 18, 2018
1. Boxpark Croydon will become the spiritual home of England fans
Who can forget the intoxicating scenes at Boxpark Croydon during this summer’s World Cup? Each and every game, thousands of England fans congregated there to fling thousands more pints around in joyous celebrations.
Fast forward to next summer and, with its legendary reputation among supporters now secured, Boxpark is the place to see England lift the Nations League trophy. As a result, the venue becomes a shrine for Three Lions fans everywhere.
Nobody does it quite like the English… GET IN!!!! 🏴🏴🏴 pic.twitter.com/14rfDpzGoG
— The Away Fans Videos (@TheAwayFansVids) July 3, 2018
An English Heritage blue plaque is commissioned (“Boxpark Croydon. Football came home here. June 2019.”); a bronze statue of a portly shirtless fan lobbing a pint is erected; and a 30ft high mural of Gareth Southgate holding up a waistcoat that says England 1 on the back covers the walls.
We can’t wait.
2. There will be a nationwide drought of Carling and Foster’s
Combine silverware success for the England football team with a long, hot summer and you’ve got a problem on your hands: the entire country selling out of generic 4% lager. A supply crisis ensues on a scale the nation hasn’t seen since World War Two.
The problems actually start in the lead-up to the finals, with expectant fans generating 10-mile-long tailbacks at their local supermarket to pick up crates of discounted beer.
If only someone warned them of the horrors to come, they’d maybe think twice about chucking their drinks in the air after every goal.
3. England gets itself a brand new bank holiday
The idea of more bank holidays being issued has long been mooted by politicians to try and win votes, but it’s often tricky to decide which date to pick. There’s no such problem in 2019.
Immediately on the full-time whistle, a Twitter user by the name of LoveSouthg8LoveEngland starts an online petition to make the nearest Friday to the 9 June final date a bank holiday. It passes through parliament with ease.
Forever more the date is set aside for the country to take time off work to get sunburnt in their local beer garden and hold two minutes’ chanting of “Southgate you’re the one” at 3pm.
4. The UK rejoins the EU after a new referendum
It’s been impossible to escape the twists, turns and terrible shambles that has been the UK’s negotiations to get themselves out of Europe for the past two years.
Yet it all proves to be a complete waste of time once England reassert themselves on football’s international stage.
With the nation in a buoyant mood, the 53% of the English population who voted to leave end up demanding the country re-joins the EU – purely so they can gloat about their success in political circles too.
We can picture the scene in parliament now: a topless Nigel Farage with a St George painted across his torso, German lager in hand, chanting: “We are the English, we’ll do what we want!” Magic.
5. Three Lions becomes No1 in the charts for an entire year
Naturally, victory in the Nations League is greeted with sheer delight but the smiles linger even longer on Baddiel and Skinner’s faces.
Three Lions rockets to the top of the charts during the finals and stays there for a full calendar year until the Euros kick-off.
Not that the duo even notice, as they’re still counting up all those sweet, sweet royalties.
6. The country’s mobile networks collapse
It became almost impossible to make a phone call during the height of the 2018 World Cup given the amount of mobile bandwidth being used to send “It’s coming home” videos to literally anyone with a 3G connection. And that was just for a run to the semi-finals.
Things get even worse when England go all the way in the Nations League, with the country’s mobile networks folding quicker than Dele Alli in a penalty box.
“It’s actually quite refreshing to be cut off like this,” think most people… until some arsehole starts emailing the memes instead.
7. England fans will assume they should win major silverware
With 53 years of hurt finally over, Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup will suddenly appear to be absolute gimmes in the eyes of Three Lions fans.
“Euro 2020 semis and final at Wembley, are they? Well, they may as well give England the trophy now! A World Cup in the middle of the scorching Qatar desert? Easy peasy, there’s no point in any other nations even bothering to turn up. England are back in business winning trophies and this time it’s for good.”
That new-found belief stays strong until Euro 2020 rolls around and England bottle it once again in a tournament that actually means something. On penalties. To a revitalised Germany.
Well, there’s always the 2021 Nations League, right?