Martin Smith Column: Is football finally coming home? The girls carry our World Cup hopes now... let’s get behind them!

England's brave World Cup Lionesses... can they go all the way?
England's brave World Cup Lionesses... can they go all the way?
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Of course we’ve always been fans of the Lionesses. The fact that they’re in a World Cup semi-final is nothing to do with it…

Glory hunters? Us? Perish the thought. Actually it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been passionate about women’s football for a decade or if you only discovered who Jade Moore and Lucy Bronze were on Saturday night when you came home from the pub.

Before this weekend only the 1966 winners and the heartbreaking 1990 side from Italia 90 have reached a football World Cup semi-final wearing England shirts. If this were the men’s team, so the argument goes, there’d be a media frenzy and St George flags as far as this one-eyed nation could see.

But be careful what you wish for.

If it were the men the pubs would all be packed for every game no matter what time they were on – mums, uncles and grans who don’t care about football would be joining in, kids would be having their faces painted red and white at school, there’d be posters in all the papers.

In short we’d all be getting in a right state and setting ourselves up horribly for even more national pain.

But to do anything else for the girls, for our hopes to be any less unrealistic would be to do-down their efforts and that won’t do.

So come on everyone... let’s get the whole thing out of proportion like we do for the blokes.

Let’s see some kids crying, a few thousand mums stomping out of the room in temper and blokes cursing that they’ll never watch football again because our national team is a disgrace that’s ‘let us down again.’ Only when the country has feverishly turned all its natural hope into irrational expectation and heaped its national self-image and social-media-infused celebrity obsession onto the women’s team - then torn them apart when they fail - can the Lionesses be truly equal.

Alf Ramsey and Bobby Robson were knighted for getting their teams to a semi-final - and a final in one glorious case. Can we expect to see Sir Mark Sampson before too long? Or will he be buried under the weight of our wretched national self-loathing should the team return from Canada with anything less than the trophy itself?

Unless, of course, we actually win it…