Now that I am set to establish residency in the City of Lost Causes the mind turns naturally to the football teams that I support as well as to the affairs of the European Union. And tonight whatever anyone else in this house wishes to do I shall be watching TV. Ireland versus Croatia kicks off at 7 PM.
As an England supporter, however much the spin doctors spin, you go into a tournament with a vague hope of victory. As I have noted before on this blog, expectations for this England side are low but for a good reason. They are useless.
As an Ireland supporter you just think it is a miracle to be in the finals of any tournament. There were, of course, the heady days of Jack Charlton when he assembled a team of players with somewhat questionable Irish heritage and we enjoyed success beyond our wildest dreams (including humiliating pre-tournament favourites England at Euro 1988.)
I was in New York in 1994 watching Ireland get through the group stages from the safety on an Irish bar. Ole Ole Ole. Jack Charlton was, from memory, banished to the stands for one game but on the big screen you could see his lips mouth a series of expletives as the tension grew in the final group match against Norway. In that group stages all 4 teams ended with 4 points but on GD and having beaten Italy, Ireland came second and made it into the knockout stages where Holland proved too good but Jack’s team returned home in triumph anyway.
Rugby is a bit different. We hope that Ireland might win tournaments these days. We don’t but there is an expectation. The Irish soccer side is, I fear, not very good. They did amazingly to qualify. I am sure they will fight with heart and do the nation proud. But I do not expect our tournament to last more than three games. After that the only pleasure will be in watching Spain, Germany and Russia play attractive world class football and in watching the British press lay into the England team after it serves up another abject performance. Okay God you are correct. I do not care so much about Spain, Germany and Russia but do not deny me that other little wicked pleasure.