So who’s having a tenner on England for the World Cup?
Deafening silence from inside Sheffield’s bookies…
One look at the Brazilian and French squads should be enough to deter any such folly but there will be the young and the reckless who will, in a week’s time, feel the old lions roaring within their football souls.
Not, one suspects, anyone over the age of 30. If you can remember Euro 96 you already have too many emotional scars to make a rational decision on our chances.
The dirty heroin of unrequited football hope has already enslaved you. The older you are the worse it is. So here’s a cynic’s World Cup guide for those 16 and under.
2002 - Golden generation, rotten referees, Ronaldinho
1998 - Michael Owen, one stupid boy, penalties
1994 - Rock the baby, penalties, no England
1990 - Gazza’s tears, Waddle smacks post, penalties
1986 - Genius cheat Maradona, Lineker, Robson’s shoulder
1982 - Goal in thirty seconds, Keegan’s header, Keegan’s hair
1978 - Tickertape, Kempes and Cruyff but no England
1974 – Muller, Tomaszewski and Jack Taylor but no England
1970 - Pele, colour TV and Back Home after the quarter-finals
1966 – Bobby, Nobby, and Pickles. Jules Rimet still gleaming
If you can’t remember 2006 you’re too young to have the bitterness to be an England follower but don’t despair, you’ll get there.
What about 2018? A team without superstars but with a good coach and a distinctive tactical style?
Quarter finals at best. At worst the Sun will be dusting off the ‘SEND THEM HOME’ headlines after two games.
*The intrigue bells rang when former Premier League ref Chris Foy was ‘spotted’ in a restaurant near Bramall Lane on Sunday. Visiting the Lane as a refereeing consultant perhaps?
It was pointed out that it wasn’t Chris Foy at all but that lookalike fellow from the Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks, the barman Jack Osborne.
One Jimmy McKenna, a Sheffield resident enjoying lunch. There is a football connection though. Jimmy, 64, was with Sheffield Wednesday in the ‘70s before injury ended his career. But he’s not Chris Foy.