November 11th 1986. It was one of the very few times in my young life that I'd got tickets for the very front at the Birmingham Odeon. Bon Jovi were on their 'Slippery When Wet' tour and were just breaking big in the UK thanks to their Desmond Child co-writes becoming Top 10 hits. But for us lot from 'rockers/hippy corner' at Solihull 6th Form College, the support band were just as much of a draw.
Saturday night, I witnessed a right shambolic rabble at Wembley – disinterested, easily distracted & disappeared when they were most needed. Not the team (necessarily) but actually England ‘supporters’ - for want of a better word - showing just why the national stadium, built as a shrine to English football, is fast becoming just another place to buy a ticket for in Leicester Square if you want to lord it in hospitality with an important international qualification match as a mere sideshow.
The World Cup is just going to have to do without me from this point.
I'm sat at the Lemmy in my room tapping out my final thoughts before the sun sets and my cab arrives to whisk - well, trundle - me to the international airport. My predecessor in this job, the excellent John Anderson remarked to me upon knowing I was making an early exit; "That's the great thing about following England, Dants - you're never in for the long haul"
I missed out a day. So what? Not much happened after all ;)
We travelled to Belo Horizonte on Sunday night, and Monday was spent travelling to the stadium to hear pretty much the same press conference from England as we'd seen at Urca the day before, save for the fact that Roy named his team and that Frank Lampard and not Steven Gerrard was alongside him.
The slow death of this England trip continues.
Most of my press colleagues at the Lemmy are staying on to cover various groups & outcomes, some as far as the quarters, some all the way to the final on 13th July.
For me, though, I shan't be far behind England's players in touching back down at Heathrow - news that will delight the haters and knuckle draggers.
It's funny, John Cross and I share opposing thoughts on England at times, but I don't demand Crossy should be sacked for having that viewpoint. Good old Twitter eh? Lovely people, just lovely :)
'Honesty, is such a lonely word,
Everyone is so untrue.
Honesty, is hardly ever heard,
And mostly what I need from you.'
Billy Joel there - still sounds fresh (sorry, just lapsed into DJ mode there for a second).
Now we've all had a day or two to digest the events in São Paulo coupled with Costa Rica seeing off the Italians, the 'Hodgson In' & 'Hodgson Out' campaigns have begun in earnest in print, on air, and in every pub, club and bar you can think of.
So it's all going to be a bit eggy for the next few days.
England will be back at the Urca training camp on Saturday, preparing for what looks set to be a meaningless game (at least on our part) against Costa Rica next week.
When we walk back into the media centre there, some minds might take a look at the purpose built facility with it's whitewashed walls and bright white tiled floors and wonder if this just another white elephant of English football. Like St George's Park? Like Wembley in both its guises? Like Lilleshall was before that?
The spectre of Partridge is never far away on this trip.
Having been served a cheeseburger that was 'hotter than the sun' yesterday, the buffet breakfast this morning in São Paulo had a 'toaster' that merely produced hot, floppy bread. If there's a trouser press in my Belo Horizonte hotel room, I may be tempted to dismantle it.
Well I stayed awake long enough to see Akinfeev's unfortunate 'bar of soap' moment for Russia against South Korea. I wonder whether Fabio Capello will drop his No.1 'keeper as ruthlessly as he did with Rob Green 4 years ago after the USA game? If he sticks with Akinfeev, then at least he's learned something from his time in charge of England.
So I'm staying of course at the Leme hotel (pronounced 'Lemmy') and after last night it's clear that it's 'No Sleep Til São Paulo'! (Another in joke for the headbangers)
Couldn't get a wink of sleep - having to get out if bed, dress and go to the lobby to do a report into the breakfast show at 3.45am local time just broke the monotony of staring at the blinking red light of the smoke alarm in my room, strategically positioned right above the bed so as to burn into your retina even when you have your eyes firmly shut trying to block it out.