May I have a word about… English football’s 55 years of hurt

noow that the footballing side of things is out of the way at Euro 2020, a small inquiry: when exactly did England become such an anguished nation? If I saw one headline with the word “redemption” in it, I saw a dozen. Being saved from sin, evil or error by winning a footer tournament? Come off it. As for “55 years of hurt”, in the intervening years since watching us win the World Cup, I can’t recall a single moment of “hurt” when watching England. Hilarity, sì. Annoyance, sì. Elation, very occasionally. Boredom, all too often. But never hurt. Time for the nation to man up, I’d say.

I’m afraid the notion of hurt in sport is contagious. Witness the following headline before the start of this year’s golfing Open at Royal St George’s: “Poulter ready to ‘ride the patriotic tide’ and end 52 years of hurt for English.” Bloke biffing a little white ball around the greensward doesn’t seem much of a healing process to me.

I’ve long enjoyed the word “community”. You know the sort of thing: “medical community” (doctors), “banking community” (bankers), “acting community” (attori). So I was delighted to come across the following: “The City was not itself for too long and seeing people out in the evening sunshine is a very welcome sight to the eyes of the capital’s adviser community.” I can only imagine this comprises what we used to call bankers – again – but you can never be too sure. My favourites, for what they’re worth, are “the Hells Angels community” and the “corkscrew collecting community”, both, I promise you, genuine examples I have spotted in the newspapers.

Last word on the footer must go to the splendidly named commentator Sam Matterface: “Romelu Lukaku speaks the language of goals.” Genius or absolute tripe? I’ll let you decide.

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