There was probably great anguish amidst disappointment last night as England was unable to claim the Euro 2020 cup. But that’s only half the story.
Yes, it is always disappointing when a target cannot be met but think aside of what the England football team did achieve, not just on the field but throughout the nation, in every home, business and pounding heart. It brought back pride in being English. Some will argue, cynically perhaps, that we should no longer be celebrating our tribal roots, that we should see ourselves as an amalgam of many different ethnicities and creeds. In principle, there seems nothing wrong in that aspiration but if we analyse the difference between the emotion of Englishness and the politically correct version of it, what do you see as the glaring difference ?
The difference is pride, a sense of belonging to a community with traditions, values, beliefs that have emerged over centuries of the most exciting history the world has ever seen - nobody else on this planet has a cultural and historical record that comes close to that of the English - and that is what pride in England is about. The politically correct narratives just don’t cut it. This isn’t about putting nationalism on a pedestal, far from it. It’s about belonging, being a part of something almost undefinable, irrespective of colour, creed or anything else - something that we all need as an anchor point in our lives. Those that would deny should ask themselves - ‘To what do I belong ?’ In truth, nothing of substance, of durability, of roots.
As for our football team, there we have a classic exemplar of leadership, common sense, unity and passion that we can all take a lesson from. That team is multi- ethnic, multi- cultural and above all it is English and inclusive of all who choose to become part of the tribe. In recent times, the very notion of Englishness has been underplayed, subsumed by the misinformed as being a provocation, a fuse lighter and byword for abysmal crimes throughout it’s history. We were being weaned off our national heritage to appease those that were vigorously trying to convince us that being English was really bad, but if you were Scottish, Welsh, Irish or any other number of nationalities you were on the right side of goodness. So, for bringing England to its senses and imbuing us with that lost pride, we have the English football team to thank.
There will be other competitions to get our footballers focussed again. What they should remember is that in one very important respect, throughout the Euro tournament they won for their country. Perhaps that was really the greater prize. Congratulations and thanks are due to them all.