Bet on penalties and it won’t be end of the world as we know it

England's Steven Gerrard celebrates. PRESS ASSOCIATION
England's Steven Gerrard celebrates. PRESS ASSOCIATION
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As England sealed their place in next summer’s World Cup finals, alpha males across the land locked in emotional embrace and Adrian Chiles told us to savour this glorious moment.

The feat even managed to quell the anger of those folk who had kicked up a stink about missing the Great British Bake Off. Remarkable, when you consider that a soggy-bottomed tart is enough to send such people into fits of rage.

Me? I sighed. Here we go again, I thought.

Don’t get me wrong. I love football. Ever since the day my father wrestled a Barbie from my grip and whisked me off to Holker Street Stadium - the home of Barrow AFC - I have loved football.

And I love the World Cup. In fact, I’ve been to one. When my parents had enough cash to take me abroad for the first time there could be only one destination - France ‘98.

We watched Croatia take on Jamaica and, as I stared up at the eastern European support my father whispered to me that just a couple of years ago these men had fought a war and probably lost family in the name of independence. That horror had been for days such as this, when their nation could proudly take to the international stage with the rest of the world. I realised then that football could be about much more than the scoreline.

England supporters, however, seem to believe we have some God-given right to succeed, epitomised by the reaction to Tuesday’s game. Already there are calls to knight Roy Hodgson.

The ‘it’s coming home’ nonsense makes my blood boil - the remnants of imperialism manifesting themselves in a haze of chanting and tacky merchandise emblazoned with the St George’s cross.

We might have invented the beautiful game but there is no logic behind the notion the trophy belongs to us. Just as there was no logic behind sailing the seas and sticking our flags in the ground of countries we fancied.

England’s bad form extends to other sport, too. Take Andy Murray, for example. For years he was the miserable Scot, Tim Henman without the ne’er do well lovability.

Then he looked like he might win Wimbledon. All of a sudden he was our British hero.

Let’s make like Lampard and be frank - it’s unlikely England will win Brazil 2014. And I find a flutter on us to go out on penalties often cushions the blow.