Euro 2020 is England’s time to shine again, at last, at a tournament | Matt Mohan-Hickson

The first time I tasted the bitter disappointment of tournament football was in 2002.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 5:42 pm
An English football fan looks stunned in Trafalgar Square in central London, Friday June 21, 2002, after seeing his side lose against Brazil in the Quarter-Final tie of the World Cup in Japan's Stadium Ecopa in Shizuoka. PA Photo : Johnny Green.
An English football fan looks stunned in Trafalgar Square in central London, Friday June 21, 2002, after seeing his side lose against Brazil in the Quarter-Final tie of the World Cup in Japan's Stadium Ecopa in Shizuoka. PA Photo : Johnny Green.

It was the World Cup in Japan and South Korea, which meant that the matches were on ludicrously early.

I was only nine-years-old, so my memory is not the most reliable and is corrupted by the clouds of time and nostalgia.

But I remember that we all arrived at school extra early that day.

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I was in Year 3 and I remember the teacher, her name is up here somewhere but I just can’t reach in to the memory bank and find it, wheeling in one of those old chunky TVs into the classroom.

We all gathered around the TV to watch. I think I remember there being a sense of excitement and anticipation crackling through the room as we dreamed of England winning.

But that could just be a moment my mind has retroactively added.

In truth I only have two firm memories from that morning. The first one of course is Ronaldinho’s goal. It felt like a sucker punch.

But the moment that is burned into my mind from that day came after the full time whistle, we were all suitably distraught and then one of my classmates said: ‘Why are you so upset? It’s only four years until the next one.’

He wasn’t wrong, World Cups do come around surprisingly quickly in the grand scheme of things, but at nine, four years felt like it was half a life away.

I think that was the most distraught I have been over an England exit from a tournament, which I guess makes sense because it was my first one.

You get used to the disappointment, the whimpers when you had hoped for bangs. You come to expect it.

Even in 2018, it felt like England was going to lose that game for much of the match – long before Mandzukic fired the Croatians ahead in extra time.

I am just hoping that perhaps this time things might be different. Sure we are facing Germany in the next game and we all know what that usually means in knock out football.

It feels like England are more than long overdue to break the cycle of hurt.

So this time I will let myself dream, the way that little nine-year-old did on the floor of a primary school classroom 19 years ago.

Matt Hancock made fools of us all

In the heart of the darkness of March 2020, I found myself feeling oddly sympathetic for our government.

Thrust into an unprecedented situation, I felt as if they were doing the best they could in dire times – or maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part, a balm to soothe my anxious mind.

Fast forward 15 months and it has become extremely clear that I was badly misguided at the time.

I think I have made my thoughts very clear about the various unforced errors – cough Delta variant cough – in recent months.

But the scandal with Matt Hancock feels all so Animal Farm – we are all equal, but some are more equal than others.

I have tried my best to follow the Covid rules, in fact I barely left my house for the best part of 15 months.

Yet clearly our leaders thought they were above them – from Dominic Cummings to Neil Ferguson and many more.

The Tories have shown us time and time again that they can’t be trusted, so I can’t believe I let myself fall for it back in 2020.

Scam texts are getting more sophisticated

I remember when the Nigerian prince scams were all the rage back in the day.

You might be able to recall all the jokes about people falling for them and how gullible they were – which in hindsight is just very mean.

But I have found myself thinking back to those days, when the scams were more overtly obvious, in recent weeks as I have been bombarded with scam texts.

Apparently I have set up a new payment from my HSBC account – the only problem being I use Lloyds for banking.

The ‘Post Office’ is holding a package and I need to pay the ‘delivery fee’. Why the Post Office is texting me from an ‘07’ number I have no idea.

But if I was awaiting delivery of a package, I could see a timeline where I fell for this. If it is a busy day and you aren’t fully on your guard.

It feels like a worrying development, like the people behind these scams are getting savvier and smarter.

And if they ever moved away from using 07 numbers, it might become even harder to spot the phishing schemes from real texts from your bank – for example.

It is a worrying trend.