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‘You face a strong urge to hide behind the sofa...’ the trials of being an England fan watching the match at home

PUBLISHED: 17:26 06 July 2018

Watching football at home on TV

Watching football at home on TV

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The many stages of being an England fan watching the game on TV at home - the hope, the fear, the joy, the misery, the desperately needing to have a wee but not daring to leave the screen...ahead of England v Sweden, writer Cory Varney dissects the experience of being the 12th man.

“It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming, Football’s coming home!”

Had you stepped outside on Tuesday night, you may have heard rafts of euphoric, drunken football fans belting that out at the top of their lungs. England had overcome Colombia, their first knockout triumph in 12 years, setting up a World Cup quarter-final against Sweden – only intensifying the feeling that football is indeed coming home.

Though, to butcher some of the lyrics from that iconic song by Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds, it was very nearly a case of everyone knowing the score and England serving up something we’ve seen all too many times before.

So, as we set ourselves for another whirlwind of emotions, let us look back at the stages we went through in front of our television screens on Tuesday night.

The pre-match optimism

You’ve sat before your TV throughout all the knockout games – Spain are out, Germany are gone, Cristiano Ronaldo is on the plane home while Lionel Messi has started his summer holidays.

One of England, Colombia, Sweden, Russia or Croatia will be in the World Cup final. Scratch that, it’ll be England. You know it’ll be England. Of course, it’ll be England.

Pre-match prep

After having all day to ready yourself for this one, there’s about fifteen minutes until kick-off and you’re nowhere near ready. In a rush, you fill your nibbles tray, grab your dip, snatch a beer, find your seat and settle down.

There’s no way you’re moving unless absolutely necessary – perhaps not even then.

The sweats

The pre-match optimism is now evaporating, replaced with the sweats. You barely listen to ITV’s coverage. It’s mere background noise. You’re lost in a maze of thought, dreaming of success, fearing failure. The game finally begins and you’re already a sweaty wreck. Your palms are clammy. You’re going to get increasingly sweaty as the minutes tick by.

The shouting

With no lightning start, the sweats and the nerves are running amok within you. You seek to rid this feeling by shouting at your TV. Your TV, in your living room in sleepy old Norfolk, because of course they’re going to be able to hear you all the way in Russia.

Half-time

Half-time comes. You clap them off. England have been the better side. You’re still full of nerves, still succumbing to the sweats. You forget to go for a much-needed pee-break, instead favouring restocking the nibbles tray and grabbing another beer… or six.

Euphoria

England score! Football’s coming home! Everyone’s getting a knighthood! Happy days!

The shouting #2

The second-half ticks on, slower than you’re sure is legally possible. You continue shouting as if they can hear you in Moscow, only now swearier than before. ITV’s commentary team are not exempt from your fear driven wrath as they talk up the prospect of a Colombian equaliser.

Desperation

Your bladder is nearing breaking point. You don’t dare move, though. England are minutes away from victory. The commentators continue to talk up the prospect of a Colombian equaliser, much to your growing exasperation.

We’re almost there

The clock ticks past 90. Attentions turn towards Love Island and finally relieving your bladder.

The five stages of grief

But, alas, disaster strikes. Colombia equaliser.

• Denial: England were seconds from the quarter-finals. Seconds away. SECONDS. You can’t believe it. You won’t believe it.

• Anger: Dropping more expletives than the urban dictionary knows how to handle, you shout mercilessly at the TV, airing your grievances on the English defending, the Colombians, football in general and anything else you can think of.

• Bargaining: There’s still a few minutes left of stoppage time, you convince yourself England can go up the other end and score straightaway.

• Depression: The final whistle blows. It’s over. It’s done. You’ll have to wait another half an hour – at least – for Love Island.

• Acceptance: England are obviously losing in extra-time. It is what it is. There’s always Qatar.

Love Island gets pushed back to 10PM because of extra-time

Good news at last.

Extra-time begins

In attempting to process the Colombian equaliser, you forgot to go pee. You forgot to restock your nibbles tray. It’s just you and extra-time now. You face a strong urge to hide behind the sofa instead.

Acceptance

Nothing’s changed your opinion since full-time. The Colombians are all over England. They look the sharper. A look at Twitter finds the majority agreeing with you, only intensifying your resignation to the inevitable.

England are done for. Colombia are obviously going to win it.

Half-time in extra-time

Deep breath. You still need to pee.

Second-half of extra-time begins

England start to look sharper, the hope is restored and this combined with the desperation to avoid penalties makes you believe they can pull it off. Eric Dier misses a free header. You’re off your seat, desperately close to punching your TV screen, but compose yourself – just.

Penalties

An event synonymous with pain and misery. England have never won a World Cup penalty shoot-out. England always go out on penalties. You know exactly what’s coming now. You finally go for your pee and consider locking yourself in the toilet until it’s over. You could go for a walk, perhaps. Maybe just go to bed. It’s a foregone conclusion, surely. You settle in your bedroom and follow the whole thing on Twitter – just about able to still hear the TV in the other room…

Falcao steps up for Colombia. He’s obviously scoring. He does.

Harry Kane steps up for England. He’s obviously missing. He doesn’t.

Cuadrado steps up for Colombia. He’s obviously scoring. He does.

Rashford steps up for England. He’s obviously missing. He doesn’t.

Muriel steps up for Colombia. He’s obviously scoring. He does.

Henderson steps up for England. He’s obviously missing. He does.

Well, that’s that. You swan back through, click on your TV guide and prepare yourself to settle down and watch Love Island instead. Your thoughts turn to the villa. Will the nation’s sweethearts, Jack and Dani remain strong? Will Dr Alex finally find love? Will Adam and Megan just stop?

It takes a moment to realise Uribe hits the bar for Columbia and suddenly you’re invested again. Back to ITV. Back in the moment.

Kieran Trippier steps up for England. You’re off to sofa. You’re on your feet, your whole life flashing before your eyes.

Hope is burning.

He scores! You cheer, as if you’re there. It’s back on. You believe.

Now Bacca for Colombia. The alcohol is making your head spin. Your Doritos and salsa dip bubble in your stomach. Pickford saves it! Another cheer, you’re everything at once – the sweats, the shouts, the nerves, the shakes…

If England score their next kick, they win…

Dier steps up to win it for England

LOUD NOISES

SCREAMING

DISBELIEF

WE’RE ALL IAN WRIGHT

MORE SCREAMING

FOOTBALL’S COMING HOME ON FULL BLAST

Relief

The euphoria passes and you suddenly realise just how bloody exhausted you are. You settle down, pop on ITV2 and watch Love Island. The perfect summer continues. The dream is alive. Football’s coming home.

So. Who’s ready to do it all again?

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