The nation's buttocks have finally unclenched this morning after a tense few moments last night where we all believed that this was the time; England were going to win a penalty shoot out and fly into the next round of Euro 2012. Because we did all believe that for a split second didn't we? The curse would be broken and this would be the year that we lifted the trophy.
But it didn't happen. We were gutted for a bit, sighed and then said "Well, Wimbledon starts tomorrow!" Phew, what good timing, it is as if Roy Hodgson planned it so we could all transfer our fierce national allegiance to Andy Murray without any guilt.
I cannot pretend to be a huge sports fan but like many others I do love a good International tournament. Whether it is tennis, football or the Olympics I have been known to actually switch on the TV during the summer months or at least visit the pub and not insist on my boyfriend talking to me for 90 minutes. During Euro 1996 my parents were shocked when I ripped down my pictures of Mark Owen and Robbie Williams, that I had blue-tacked with great care all over their newly painted doors, and replaced them with cut-outs from the sports pages of Michael Owen, Alan Shearer and even David Seaman! I became obsessed for a few weeks and even last night I let my "inner bloke" out and sat in front of that tense penalty shoot-out gasping into my takeaway.
Something about sporting events unleashes our national pride and the same can be said for the Royal Family in recent months. Red, white and blue face paints are no longer reserved for passionate middle-age Tim Henman fans or hoards of rotund men abroad shouting into television cameras like William Wallace; it is now cool to paint your cheeks and declare yourself a Duchess of Cambridge wannabe and walk the streets of London. I almost bought some myself the other day in a fit of patriotism.
But I do worry about those England footballers this morning. Obviously the media have swooped down on Hodgson and the Three Lions giving opinion, criticism and blame. Fans of Cheryl Cole feel vindicated and can smugly say "See I told you that Ashley was worthless" and Gareth Southgate can breathe a sigh of relief at no longer being Britain's Most Wanted as a result of our elephant-like football memory. If I get a line wrong on stage or fluff a singing harmony I don't get vilified, just a note from the director the next day. It doesn't make the theatre journals and I am merely mocked light-heartedly by fellow cast members... but then I am not being paid £60,000 a week.
So Murray is next to feel the warmth and force of a nation's support and then we'll turn our attentions to Adlington, Hoy and Pendleton. Are the red, white and blue outfits too much? Are we adding extra stress to these high-level performers with a pressure cooker of support that in reality can only lead to their failure? Or should they just buck up and bask in our admiration and practice a little sports psychology to drown us out and focus on the win?
So don't worry Andy Murray we'll pretend to turn over the TV channel and not care how you play. I won't put all my eggs in one basket or perch hopefully on Murray's Mount eating strawberries, (I can't afford them.) That way you can chill out and focus on your game and hopefully get to that final. All our trophy hopes are with you. Now, where are those blue face paints I need to perfect the St Andrew's cross on my cheeks.......?
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