Given we wait four years for every World Cup, the excitement when it actually kicks off is palpable across the nation. But even that feeling is a mere fraction of the fervour for when England’s opening game actually comes around.
Which is why everyone and their dog (well, assuming they’re allowed in) will be flocking to pubs and giant screens everywhere to see Gareth Southgate’s youthful side take on Tunisia on Monday evening.
But public viewing does come with its pitfalls. With this in mind, we’ve put together our ultimate pub viewing survival guide to ensure you can at least enjoy the elements of your evening you can control. Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about England playing well at a tournament.
1) Wear clothes you don’t mind getting ruined
Or, failing this, just be ready to sorry what you’ve got on. That’s because any late England goals – or indeed any strike full stop – could well be greeted with beer throwing and celebratory limbs all over the shop. Just look what happened at Ashton Gate when Daniel Sturridge scored a last-gasp winner over Wales at Euro 2016:
So if you’re coming straight from the office, maybe opt for that Primark suit you’ve got tucked away at the back of the wardrobe in the morning. And don’t forget about that spilt chilli sauce from your late night kebab…
2) Mentally prepare yourself to hear some incredibly woeful football opinions
Let’s be honest, tournaments and games of this magnitude draw out the broadest spectrum of society to the pub. So it won’t be just your good old fashioned Monday evening boozers and actual football fans crammed around the TV.
As a result, you’re very likely to hear wave after wave of ill-informed conjecture, opinions and tactical “insight” from people who only really watch football every two or four years. Don’t be surprised to overhear comments like, “Why isn’t David Beckham playing?” or “I thought Gareth Southgate was a player?” Just block it all out and bite your tongue.
3) Eat a substantial lunch
Hunger pangs during the first 45 minutes of England’s 2018 World Cup campaign are the last thing you need on top of the game’s stress. Ordering food will be a total hassle and having to pop over the road to the chippy would be a crazy decision at any point, so doubling up on lunch is a necessity.
4) Ensure you’ve topped up your song knowledge
Depending on where you’re viewing, there’s a good chance Three Lions will blare out of the speakers at some point before or after the game. Make sure you know the key differences between the Euro 96 (“We’ll go on getting bad results, getting bad results, getting bad results…”) and World Cup 98 (“Oh it’s saved, saved, saved…”) masterpieces, as well as any current England chants.
At least the chorus to Fat Les’ Vindaloo is a bit easier to recall once you’ve got the “Nah nah nah!” locked down…
5) Know your World Cup pundits
Coverage of the first few games will inevitably pop up in conversation, so having a few lines about the best/worst pundits ready will be useful. Remarking on how inferior Phil Neville is to his older brother or how lame every single one of Mark Lawrenson’s “jokes” are a good start. However, expressing your surprise at how informative Didier Drogba’s analysis is likely to be the edgy opinion of this World Cup.
6) Get there early
Yes, we’re well aware how simple and obvious that sounds, but you’d be amazed how easily this golden rule is forgotten – something you’ll be very much reminded of it when there’s a sudden influx to the bar at 6:55pm.
Good viewing spots are at a premium in any venue, so sneak out of work early to get that nice big table right underneath the screen. We promise it’ll be worth the inevitable disciplinary you’ll get from your boss first thing on Tuesday.
7) Time your round at the bar well – and get the order right
A further bonus to getting there nice and early is the ability to get your round in early, thus avoiding peak times just before kick-off or during half-time. Sure, there’s a slim risk you’ll look quite tight when late arrivals are sent straight to the bar, but who cares? You’ve secured that table!
When taking on the bar, there are two tactics you should need to adhere to enjoy maximum enjoyment of the game. First and foremost, ensure you vet whomever is in your round so you avoid the situation of ordering three pints and one double distilled quadruple filtered gin with a hint of goji berry tonic garnished with freshly picked organic leaf of a rose bush that’ll take an age to prepare. Your fellow patrons will appreciate it as much as you will.
Secondly, future proof your order to minimise wasted time at the bar later on. If you’re lucky enough to have a pub that sells two-pint glasses (yes, they do exist) then make the most of it. Just remember to enjoy your drink responsibly, OK?
8) Expect disappointment
Throughout all of this, we urge you to remember one thing: this is England at at World Cup. The Three Lions last won their opening World Cup group game back in 2006, a heady 1-0 classic over Paraguay (ahem). Although they at least have history on their side, given they beat Tunisia 2-0 in their opening encounter at France 1998.
So as exciting as it will be during the build-up, expect a thorough lashing of disappointment throughout the proceeding 90 minutes. Then you can only be pleasantly surprised if we play well. Genius, right?