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Football’s coming home…

June 3, 2014

It was the summer of the Lightning Seeds, Baddiel and Skinner, Gazza’s goal, the Dutch Demolition, and the Dentist Chair. It was the summer Football very nearly came home.

I got the England home shirt for my 10th birthday which was just days before the tournament started. I also got a Euro ’96 Filofax too – you youngsters with your ipads don’t know what you’re missing!

After a slow start with a 1-1 draw against the Swiss, it was time for the big one – England vs Scotland at Wembley. And where would I be for this showpiece occasion? On the train back to England, from Scotland!

I had been up to visit my Grandparents for a few days with my Mum and young brother Dav (He’s too cool for ‘Dave’).

On the train upto Scotland a few days previous, sat opposite us were some Scotland fans who had been to the Netherlands 0-0 Scotland fixture the day before. They cast all Anglo-Scottish rivalry aside and let me have a glance at their match programmes!

That night my Grandparents enquired where the Turkey vs Croatia game was taking place, and 1 look at my trusted Euro ’96 Filofax confirmed that the City Ground, Nottingham was the destination.

We spent a few days at my grandparents, watching most of the games on TV with me updating the Filofax with all the scores and scorers. I can’t really remember much about what games we watched, but it’s precious memories of time spent with Granny Agnes and Papa Jimmy.

As I said earlier, on the day of England vs Scotland we were on the train home. News came in that an IRA bomb had gone off in Manchester, so there was uncertainty on the train as to how bad it was and if we’d be able to get home.

A couple of young Scottish women sat opposite who were listening to the game on their Walkman’s. They kept the whole carriage updated with the goings-on at Wembley, not very well though.

Moans of “ach nooo”, came from them as Shearer headed us 1-0 up. Then a wave of excitement as Scotland were handed a penalty. They then celebrated, so I assumed the score was 1-1. Moments later they were ach nooo-ing again as Gazza did this –

“ay the commentator has said it’s 2-0 England! I think we missed the penalty hen!”

The conductor then made an announcement to confirm it was England 2-0 Scotland, and that the next station stop was Wigan North Western.

Fortunately Mum never held it against me, and I got home safely 🙂

Another little thing I remember from that journey – my young bro Dav was just short of 3 and was sat on the train playing with these little football figures. He said there singing the Match of the Day tune, and the Scottish girls were in raptures over it, “ach how cute, what a little cutie!!”, you’ve always had it Dav 😉

The 4-1 Dutch-demolition was something special, perhaps one of the best England performances ever at Wembley? I was in the bath but made sure the doors were opened at an angle in which I could still see the TV. Great goals, great result. Optimism was rising as we won Group A. (My favourite goal from that win vs the Dutch –

Spain were defeated on peno’s in the Quarter’s. Germany awaited in the semi’s.

Here’s the start of the BBC’s coverage that night. Watch from 3:00 through to 6:00, and feel them goosebumps.

Gazza wouldn’t get off the team coach that night until the song had finished.

The game itself was a Wembley classic, Shearer giving us the lead with an early header before the Germans equalised. I’ll hold my hands up and admit that after the German goal I went out to play football with my neighbour Stuart and bro Andy, but regular breaks were had to check in on the big game.

Gazza was an inch away from winning it with a golden goal, and we were back inside the house in time for the penalties.

You all know what happened next. The Germans and us smashed in our first 5 peno’s each, then poor Gareth Southgate did this.

I remember the disappointment, everyone absolutely deflated. People had their arms around Southgate trying to console him. The TV camera’s showed fans in tears, Baddiel & Skinner stood looking distraught.

The pundits then had their say before the credits started rolling, with highlights of the game showing, and Cast’s Walkaway playing. It was hard not to have a tear in the eye in what was my first ever England penalty shoot-out heartache, my Italia ’90.

Link to that absolute anthem by Cast –

It may have all ended in tears yet again, but there was a sense of pride in our national team for the first time since 1990 after some breath-taking moments of football, moments that saw England return to being an international force.

Football did come home after all.

Link to all the Euro ’96 stats and facts –

A link to the Euro ’96 based drama ‘A Summer with Des’ starring Neil Morrisey –




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