Martin Smith column: Ashes nightmare lifted by memories of Vaughan and Pele

England's Joe Root walks off after defeat during day five of the Ashes Test match at The Gabba, Brisbane.
England's Joe Root walks off after defeat during day five of the Ashes Test match at The Gabba, Brisbane.
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It’s 6am. It’s dark, winter’s blowing at the window and you’re ready to hit the snooze button.

But as the minutiae of living - what you did, should have done and what you have to do - begins to filter through your sleep-slowed mind, it hits you. The Ashes.

This is one of the most telling moments in a British sports’ fans life. And our next thoughts in those moments say a lot about our personalities.

Despite our fresh 10-wicket whacking in Brisbane there are at least two types of early morning Ashes-in Aussie response.

The first wakes remembering defiant down-under centuries by Vaughan and Cook and imagines we’re spanking them from third man to long leg, Root 184, Bairstow on 90 from 30 balls.

Then there are those who wake fearing the follow-on.

Conjuring up historical hammerings from Lillee, McGrath, Chappell and Gilchrist as they tear out wickets and smash the puny Poms all the way back to the 19th century. Which is pretty much what we got over the weekend.

The fear of waking to more midwinter maulings will haunt us into the New Year.

We’ve bounced back from Gabba defeats before and no-one expected us to win this one but it’s going to take guts from Joe Root’s team to avoid a series’ bullying from Steve Smith and co.

It might be better to hit the snooze button after all.

n It comes up every few years and will probably do so while ever football is played and remembered.

Pele at Hillsborough on February 23, 1972.

A picture that captures more than the greatest footballer.

One that shows a packed Kop on a Wednesday afternoon – they couldn’t play at night because the country was six weeks into a miners strike and floodlights were banned.

How many kids bunked off school to watch Santos win 2-0 ? How many Sheffield sickies that day?

There were supposedly 41,000 there to watch Wednesday play the Brazilians for the second time in a decade. Former Owls defender Colin Prophett played that day and recently re-shared his memories with the Daily Mail.

The highlights for him? The atmosphere and the great man’s ball control.

“One of the things you noticed about Pele was his touch. He killed it. The ball was dead.”

But not the memories. They’ll be alive for ever for everyone who went to the game plus the thousands who didn’t go but now reckon they did…