Once again…we lose. Or do we? England’s 2018 World Cup? We could of, and in reality, should have reached the final. Does it matter? It does and doesn’t. Why? Because football is a matter of excitement, disappointment, analysis, reflective insights and future hoped for’s. When I was playing football in my teens, I was pretty decent. I enjoyed the sport. It was a collective of emotional turmoil. All dependant on the moment. We won and lost. But reflection was on my improvement and how the team supported each other. One or two players were weak. But support from the surrounding players gave those players belief. A few more were consistent. And the standouts were simply that. Standouts. Where did I play? School team, over on the local fields with local street teams and the Cub Scout tournament. I was a cub. It became a Life changer? Why the cubs or, in fact, hopeful future scouts?
To explain…….I was a cub, in the 90th pack, awaiting to go up to the scouts. We played the 80th pack in the tournaments final. We won. The outcome of one 80th pack adult’s intentions to seek out an answer to escape football and competition failure and disappointment? An episode of disbelief. Of…..’What?’ An adult seeking someone or something to blame for their loss. Result from the enquiry? I didn’t bother becoming a scout. Why? Nasty taste after the politics. In the cubs, as said, we won the tournament final. My younger brother alongside me, we scored a fair few goals. Him the most. The opposition team (the 80th), the team we played in the final, found I was 11 days too old according to the rules, complained and a replay was the result. That’s when I realised there were sore losers. Ideology, excitement of 11 players (children) winning and the fact an adult chose to challenge the system because they LOST, was a bit of a life changer. For all concerned. Firstly, my team mates. Because my friends in the cubs had to play again. And this time they lost the match. Success was torn from them. And me because I was portrayed a cheat. An unknowing cheat. But a cheat nonetheless. Because those 11 days turned me into Pele apparently. I was so influential, because I was practically an 11 year old adult, that it was deemed unfair. Can’t remember ages of what cubs or scouts should be. A team mate, born 14 days earlier to me was still a cub child! Losers? Went by the rules and not the moment. And certainly not with children’s psychology. I didn’t intentionally go into the match knowing I was a week and a half over age according to the rules. I went into the match as a cub. Not a scout. Pathetic is the adult who actually inquired into all inherent as to repair the damage that the 80th NEVER lost. They didn’t lose. They were deemed the best! And no longer so? Seek something to change all that. What mind looks into finding something that changes outcomes. Especially one that affects childrens’ euphoria. Very, very sad. They actually LOST. Unthinkable. Blame a boy who has the actual temerity to be 11 days over age. Thanks for that. You deemed me a cheat. Not the adult who ran the 90th, my team, who didn’t intentionally or knowingly put me into the team. We were all unknowing.
Roy’s goal above. He scores a goal to be remembered. Sod the score line. It is a beautiful thing to behold. A corker! Seek one positive in the negatives. England played some great football this tournament. So. I’ll remember the positives and know that those experiences will make the players stronger for the next matches.
So, what does this all mean? It highlights for me the complexities of football and the rules. The inconsistency of decision making. A high extended dangerous ‘possible kick in the face from a foot’ goal by Croatia and a decision of ‘it was OK and valid’ by the same referee who sent Nani off for a similar high foot intervention challenge in a champion’s league match between Manchester United and Real Madrid shows exactly that. One rule for one. One rule for another. Does it matter? Not really. Because that’s what football and life is about. A collective where individual inconsistency and injustice is highlighted. Because everything is captured on film we can reflect and moan. But there’s no point. What is done is done. Move on.
We then reflect of what might have been. Not the collective 90 minutes of to and fro. But individual actions that damage psyche. All we need to do is accept and carry on. Injustice? Hopefully justice eventually outweighs it. We can but hope. You can’t analyse or determine. So much depends on ‘luck’. So much depends on strange decisions. VAR even gets it wrong on analysis and reflection. You just have to sometimes accept. And move on. The next championships? England? We’ll be European champions. Unless sore losers are inherent.