I don't consider myself a massive football fan, but I do like to jump on the bandwagon for games that actually 'mean something' like Cup finals, European games and of course, the world cup.
Every four years I have the opportunity to pretend that I know a little bit about football, and am well versed in nodding at the right places when somebody tries to discuss the merits of the defensive strategies of team that I have never heard of.
Of course, I have watched all the England games so far, and screamed relentlessly at the TV in the bar as they struggled against the 'mighty' Algeria, but I have also watched the Spanish games. ( I should say at this point that I have neither UK or Spanish TV at home and so as a result I am 'forced' into watching the football at my local bar. I think I bear it well, and never complain ) I think that I have been more vocal in my support of Spain, as my adopted country, than with England and looking around the bar during the Spain match the other day, it seemed that I wasn't alone. I recon that almost half of Spain's supporters were English, trying desperately to look as though they were fervent supporters as opposed to just being interested in the game.
Apart from bandwagonners like myself coming out of the woodwork, the annoying glut of football shirts and car flags, and the endless round of barbecues that company the world cup, life continues pretty much the same as ever.
Even though I have lived in my village for 6 years and are generally well accepted by the locals, I have noticed that since the world cup has kicked off I am viewed differently. I am a 30 something year old guy, quite stocky ( it's not fat, honest ) , with a shaved head and an expression that often looks like I am chewing a wasp. Normally this doesn't provoke much of a reaction, but given that I am English, and that the World cup is in progress it obviously means that I am a thug.
During the England matches against the USA and Algeria I am sure that some of the locals expected me to rampage around the bar at full time, smashing things up etc... and to be honest I didn't feel like disappointing them, but I managed to fight the urge.
So now it's preparing for (another) barbecue on Sunday to watch England loose miserably against Germany (hope i'm wrong!). I just wait for the day when I can be proud of one or more England players, regardless of the result, and to be able to say that they fulfilled their potential and played their best, rather than be disappointing.
The last time I think I was impressed by an England Players performance it was John Barnes in Italy 1990 – and that was for his rapping !