Neighbour Dave has featured in a few of my columns over the years. He is my sounding board for the daily issues that present themselves in both football and sport in general.
With a heavy sigh, mother England wakes up to find the porch light still on. It’s been a long 48 years since she last saw her pride and joy, since she last saw Football.
England birthed Football and watched it grow into the wild beast that it is today, toying with the emotions of millions, breaking hearts around the globe and leaving no stone unturned. England knows the pain this cruel beast carries; it suffered its deceit oh so many times before.
But it also knows the joy Football possesses. The unity it provides. The strength it gives. The ability it has to muster all kinds together, regardless of upbringing, culture and history. It views all as equals.
If ever there was a time for Football to return, it missed its most favourable chances of arrival in 1998, 2002 and 2006. Its talents shone the brightest they had since it packed its bags and said its goodbyes to go to Brazil in 1970.
“You won’t be away for long, right?” asked England nervously as it rushed to the door to see its own leave.
A wry smile, a step out the door. Gone.
Full of broken promises and shattered dreams, Football hasn’t been kind to England. What started as a trip to Brazil has taken on a different path to that England would have liked.
Every four years, when Football had the chance to return home, the grey, hollow feeling spreads in England’s heart. It knows better than to believe Football will ever return, but it just can’t help it.
In 1996 England pleaded with Football to do the right thing.
“Come home. Come home now,” but 30 years of hurt never stopped England dreaming.
Now they can see Football standing out on the street, unsure where the wind will blow it next. Maybe next door to France, perhaps the glorious seas of Croatia. Perhaps to the comforts of Belgium for a maiden voyage.
England has heard the words too many times before.
They just want to hear that knock on the door and the porch light turned off.
Football, it’s time you went home.