Dare we say it but after 1967 and 1989 are we revelling in the third 'summer of love'?

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 12 July 2018, 13:26

ALL THE BRITS are long gone from Wimbledon and the football team is coming home empty handed from a major tournament.

In cold numbers this will look in the history books like any other ordinary English summer.

Yet travelling into London on a train this morning there was a surprising and quite surreal feelgood factor, in spite of the previous night’s events at the World Cup.

The curtain coming down on England’s adventure in Russia triggered the instant deflation that greets defeat at the final whistle of every match when you happen to be on the losing side.

For English football fans it has become quite a habit. But this time it is slightly different.

It’s almost inexplicable but there is a tangible sense of optimism among the football fraternity and the country as a whole even though in terms of ultimate glory we are not better off than at any of the World Cups since 1966.

Dare we say it but after 1967 and 1989 are we revelling in the third ‘summer of love’?

In the swinging 60s it was flower power and then came the rave scene with men embracing in fields while moonstomping semi naked in fields.

The 21st century version comes in the midst of the digital age from a host of football stadiums thousands of miles away and in the bizarre shape of a heartbreaking result.

You can argue that there has been progress on the pitch - in 2014 it was a group stage, in 2018 it was the last four.

There is debate about whether England does actually possess a good team or did other results go our way to flatter us?

But above all that it is indisputable that coach Gareth Southgate has succeeded in making the country at large feel that the England squad is an extension of us.

That the lads who stepped over the line wearing the all white on Wednesday night to face Croatia were like the sixth form boy who lives next door. The one-time paperboy to whom you gave a £5 tip every Christmas.

For the first time in decades England and its football team shared a connection. And as a result they will share this moment of extreme disappointment and then build once more.

It was the same sentiment that prevailed among Labour Party supporters following the 2015 election.

Ed Milliband lost heavily, the socialist movement seemed out on its feet, yet for those with a hint of red in their veins something happened that night which went beyond the numerical voting counts.

A feeling of perverse optimism rose up, Jeremy Corbyn became the next leader and Labour Party membership swelled by hundreds of thousands. And Theresa May has been treating the Opposition with much more respect ever since.

England now have a new found status in world football even though the boys could not deliver the ultimate prize.

Maybe that was asking too much but they sure delivered a feeling of togetherness and pride in the football team which has not been there for donkeys years.

As long as these players stay humble, take on board what they have done but don’t let it go to their heads it can serve as a foundation for even greater summers in the future - except of course that the next World Cup is being played in November.

But you know what I mean.

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