Italy then. Interesting. We haven’t really had a history of difficult football with them as a nation. It’s not like the Germans. Maybe this is the start of something ugly.
On the tube today six lads with crazy eyes were shouting together with no shirts on. They were painted crudely with George crosses and they were angrily denigrating a cheap meaty snack made in Ansbach, Germany. “You can stick your peperami up your arse,” they sang – to the tune of Coming Round the Mountain. Stupid looking stupid people being stupid. Of course it was aimed at the general idea of Italians. They also correctly tried tagliatelle, but peperami was their favourite notionally Italian thing for anal insertion. They were roving up and down the carriage. Were they looking for Italian fans to shout at?
I had to do a brief inventory. “Have I inadvertently put on a T-shirt with an Italian slogan?” No. My shirt is American, and red. “Likely they won’t decide to start trying to put things up my bottom”, I find myself thinking. Still, the these guys weren’t particular. They had a kind of dumb oppositional rage against all Italians. I’m glad there are none on the tube. They are hammered.
It’s such a contrast. On the field these young healthy football players are breaking the mold. They’ve been getting involved in politics. They’ve mostly been trying to use their profile to send positive messages. But their pasty plump fans boo loudly for the opposing team’s anthem, they boo when the team kneels, and they work themselves up into a frenzy about peperamis and they are currently intimidate a whole weekend worth of tube carriages.
Off the tube and I’m walking across Richmond Bridge, and Marybell strays too close to the road. “Darling! Stay closer to the wall please.” “Yes mummy.” Marybell is 5. Her mummy can’t resist. “Marybell, is it coming home?” “Yes, mummy. It’s coming home. Football is coming home.” I’m overtaking them. I find myself wondering what Marybell’s mummy would do if I offered her a peperami. And I kind of hope she’s right.
Have we really not been in a final for this long? For decades and decades…? All these people crying and missing penalties and crowds of people fighting and yet this is the first final in my lifetime? Ok. So this liberal and thoughtful team have done well. Good on them, but not if a win is going to be used to fan the flames burning our relationship with Europe. It’s bad enough already. This little island, walled in against the world and dripping with rage and incompetence. I don’t want stupid people to feel more powerful.
Still, I’ll be watching the game along with most people. I’m closer to Marybell’s mum perhaps than the peperami lads on the tube. I suppose it’s sporting history already, whether they win or lose. By the time this is published it’ll be decided… And the whole damn nation is going to have a massive hangover.