Let the celebrations begin!
The England football team, so often derided in the past and labelled 'disappointing' at major tournaments, have at last 'completed the job', 'delivered the goods', and, in one last pathetic strain for a brilliant flowery phrase, 'brought the bacon home' from the FIFA World Cup!
England completed their most successful campaign since 1990 with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Belgium last night, and how the fans celebrated! Ten of thousands of them, clad in expensive, cynically-changed-every-season England replica shirts, waving St. George's cross banners with their local team's names daubed on them, took a last look at their beaten heroes shaking hands with the Belgian victors, and filed out of the stadium, to a muted and muffled chant of "Football's coming home!", which, clearly, it isn't.
Gareth Southgate, in his waistcoat, ruled supreme! The man most people thought couldn't do it, couldn't. He went round his players consoling, hugging, shaking hands, telling his players how proud he and the rest of the country were of them for having put minnows like Tunisia and Panama to the sword, for having nonchalantly despatched ruffians like the Colombians, and for having 'brushed aside' the Viking threat from the Swedes, even though they weren't really very Viking-like.
Speaking to journalists later, Southgate, ever the gentleman, praised England's opposition, who managed to beat us twice, and said what a great experience the World Cup had been:
"for myself and my young charges, representing the nation as they have, playing to the best of their limited ability, chests out and heads held high, from the bottom of their hearts, for my wife and family, for my friends and workmates, for all the fans, all the backroom boys, everyone at the FA, for Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Gordon Banks, Geoff Hurst, Nobby Stiles and Alan Ball, for Gazza's ultimate sacrifice in 1990, for Chris Waddle and Stuart Pearce, for Lineker, for that Russian linesman, for that dog that found the FA Cup, for Her Royal Highness, Her Majesty the Queen, "and for anybody else who knows me", in sickness and in health, till death us do part, we, proudly, victoriously, and with great, great honour and much distinction, now return from Russia with love, and absolutely nothing else. Well done, everyone!"
Well done, boys! You were truly average.