Més Que Un Column

I’m not going to say those three words everyone’s saying. It seems like shouting out those iconic lyrics by the Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds has already become part of the cringe-worthy and overused group of pop culture activities.

It has a long way to catch up to dabbing or the ‘what *insert name of any plucky young full-back here* finds in his pockets when he gets home’ joke, but in the unlikely event that England do win the World Cup, it’ll have easily surpassed them.

Being Irish born and bred, I’ve always found it difficult to know whether or not I should have any interest in the Three Lions at major tournaments. Unsure whether or not I should get behind our neighbours across the Irish Sea, or even if I should actively want them to bow out of the competition in the most farcical and embarrassing manner possible as they so often do.

There’s a bit of a culture in Ireland to have a laugh at England’s biennial fuck-ups, for obvious reasons that have a time and place to be discussed. Neither is it the time, nor is a light-hearted football website with Alan Pardew as its poster boy, the place.

I’ve always found that a bit bitter (the Anglo-Irish tensions that is, not the Pardew thing, that’s brilliant). If you’re still arsed about something that happened 100 years ago, when are you not going to be arsed about it? Especially when for the most part, you’ve already solved the problem in question 100 years ago.

Some of the behaviour from the barmy army though, it would make you run through a thousand and one brick walls for a balaclava and a tricolour. That St George’s cross is Brexit level 900. There’s nothing even close to it.

I’m also a Liverpool supporter. And despite the club being represented in Russia under that English flag and having two LFC players in the squad, Liverpool and its support is a million miles away from Wembley and that brass band who follow them around. Nothing wrong with those lads, but fuckin’ ell, they wouldn’t last long at Anfield, Goodison Park or even the Stretford End. The Etihad however…

To call Liverpool a British city just sounds wrong. You’ll do well to find a Union Jack in Liverpool’s away end in Europe or even every second week in the Kop. And to all the big league of Ireland fans who question how you can count yourself as Irish when you support the Queen’s football teams, lads, all the best if you think Buckingham Palace went off for Dua Lipa on May 26.

This is the first major tournament in my lifetime where Liverpool as a city will be in any way bothered by England’s success or failure in the coming days and weeks. Why are they bothered? Because this England side are “somewhat” likeable.

Even though the “golden generation” of Gerrard, Lampard, Cole, and Ferdinand ended a few years ago, the slate didn’t feel fully clean until Hodgson left. It wasn’t just him at Euro 2016, it was what he represented. The old-school and the arrogance of the 20th century left behind at long last for the new age of English football. Don’t get me wrong though, there’s still some of it that is too 21st century for anyone’s liking…

Gareth Southgate doesn’t seem like some imperialist who believes Brexit means Brexit, with pictures of Churchill on the wall in his Cornwall holiday home. The man seems alright, more than alright in fact. If I was in that squad, I’d be going the extra mile for him.

When England needed a late goal against Tunisia last month, there was something brilliant about Kane rescuing it for England. I listened to “Three Lions” that night, even though I’m too young to remember Euro 96 or even France 98. In my idealistic fantasies, all England fans were good lads back in the nineties, and supported their country in the right way.

That’s probably not true, but that song makes everything seem so innocent and easy to get behind. Having said that, Yerry Mina’s header past Pickford and over Kieran Trippier gave me the same feeling of quiet excitement on Tuesday that Kane’s goal did almost three weeks ago.

I don’t like seeing the tabloid fallout over an England disappointment, and even more so, I don’t like lads like Jordan Henderson being damned by Jack from his bedroom in Reading, who only watches Liverpool three times a year and loves singing songs about the RAF and a war that happened 100 years ago. Do you see a theme here with football supporters who I don’t like?

Football’s a communal activity. I’ve got no problem with lads getting involved who don’t normally care about the footy, or who don’t fully get what it’s about. Just don’t act like an expert if you’re not. Don’t use cliché banter-culture lines and don’t pretend you’re a diehard when in reality football has just been a casual hobby for you since Euro 2016.

I don’t wish any harm on them, I hope they have a great time on Saturday afternoon, but if I was English, I wouldn’t be able to get excited and jump up and down in the knowledge I’m doing it with those lads. Nor will I be able to enjoy an England win from my home in the west of Ireland, an hour away from Harry Kane’s grandfather’s hometown, knowing I’d be enjoying it with them. Most English fans are sound, but the group in question are too big to be considered a tiny minority of idiots.

Then again, last month at least 5,000 Irish fans did the Iceland Clap at our friendly with the USA in Dublin, so I guess international football just isn’t for me. Might get a Sweden jersey though…

All the best.