After yet another final four capitulation, Paddy Power News examines the five stages of an England semi-final:
Stage 1: It’s coming home
Love them or most likely hate them, you can’t help but admire the eternal optimism of a nation without a major tournament win in over 50 years. Despite their lack of success, the fans, tabloids and media usually install England as pre-tournament favourites. Then, after tentatively navigating their way past teams such as Panama, Legoland and Love Island, England get a semi! Expectation levels soar. Cue the 17th re-release of that Baddiel & Skinner classic, ‘It’s Coming Home’.
Stage 2: Pre-match riot
Summer tournaments provide the perfect conditions for prolonged riotous behaviour with its extended daylight hours and glorious weather. And at the epicentre of any violent public disturbance during a major finals, you’ll normally find an inebriated sunburnt twat draped in a St George’s cross. What better way to take the gloss off the team’s performances on the pitch, than by engaging in a running battle with the police off it?
Stage 3: The early lead
There are three things you can be absolutely certain of before kick-off when England play a semi-final. One, England will lose, probably on penalties. Two, the commentator will reference England’s 1966 World Cup win. And three, they will take an early lead. It’s at this point every Englishman believes it REALLY is coming home. It’s also at this point that every Scots, Irish and Welshman considers absconding to some of the remotest parts of the globe without WiFi.
Stage 4: Ah f*ck! Extra-time
While England’s players are already mentally drafting their victorious Facebook posts, they lose their foothold in the game and allow the opposition to score. As extra-time looms large, the three Lions miss a series of tap-ins. Owners of premises with plastic furniture outside the stadium begin to fear the worst. The ref’s whistle blows. It’s extra-time, possibly penalties. The chants of ‘It’s coming home’ begin to sound more like a question.
Stage 5: It’s all over. England are out.
Clive Tyldesley makes lewd gestures at England’s dejected players as they fall to their knees. Tabloid editors debate which vegetable they should photoshop onto the manager’s head. 50-year-old fans make slit throat gestures at the 19-year-old player they’ve decided is to blame as he leaves the pitch. The inquisition into England’s latest failure will dominate the headlines in the weeks and months to come. The rest of the world breathes a huge fucking sigh of relief. It’s safe to turn on the telly and look at your phone again.