HIGH expectations followed by hurt and disappointment seem to be the norm for England at World Cups – but Ken Malley hopes the carnival atmosphere can continue both on and off the pitch for Three Lions fans in Brazil.
Pompey fan Malley will be volunteering for the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) during the South American tournament – a one-stop organisation for all England fans abroad.
If there’s anything travelling fans need to know about stadiums, transport, accomodation or the nearest beach party, Malley and his team will be the first port of call.
It sounds like a dream job, with the Pompey Supporters’ Trust vice chairman the envy of his friends back home in Blighty.
But Malley insists it’s not all fun and games.
‘We’re on hand to assist fans in any way we can,’ he said.
‘We’ve produced a 146-page guidebook for Brazil with information on all the cities hosting matches – and not just England games.
‘We’ll also be producing a booklet after every individual game with up-to-date articles and information.
‘We’ll use a local printer and distribute the booklets by hand in places where we know England fans will congregate.
‘A lot of the information would have been on our website suggesting places to go so we’ve got a pretty good idea of where fans will be.’
Malley, who will be part of a 10-man team, will be doing everything he can to make it a World Cup to remember for thousands of supporters.
‘I love the work and it’s an opportunity to get to the football that I wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise,’ he added.
Travelling is, obviously, part and parcel of the job and Malley has been a busy man in recent weeks.
Having spent a week in Miami for England’s warm-up matches against Ecuador and Honduras, he briefly returned home on Monday.
Malley then had less than 24 hours before flying to Sao Paulo yesterday – before he catches another four-hour flight today to Manaus for England’s opening game.
The travelling won’t stop there, though – with England travelling back to Sao Paulo for their second Group D fixture against Uruguay, before concluding the group stages in Belo Horizonte against Costa Rica.
And Malley, who has been to two World Cups and three European Championships, is experienced enough to know potential problems lie around every corner.
‘If England finish second in their group they will play in Rio, but we’ve failed to find any accommodation – everything’s booked up,’ he said.
‘The rooms are so short in Rio that the British consulate are putting people up in their own homes.
‘The travelling is going to be horrendous, too. South Africa was big but Brazil will be even worse.
‘The other issues will be the temperature.
‘We had air conditioned rooms in Miami but then you have a shower and you step outside and you’re soaked in sweat again.
‘It’s certainly not England temperatures so that’s something we’ll have to deal with.
‘The on-going demonstrations could also prove to be an inconvenience.
‘We shouldn’t have any problems on an individual level but if they (the Brazilians) go on strike it could cause problems for the bus and metro networks.
‘We’ll obviously be keeping a close eye on things to see if it impacts fans.’