I came home from the world cup last weekend and went back to work in Brussels.
I put up England flags and a Belgium flag; a passing Belgian advised me which way round the flag goes. With friends, I watched the Colombia and Sweden games in an Irish pub, on TV.
You see more on TV: the cameras siphon you into what’s happening, and there are replays.
You hear more in the stadium. When my daughter was a teenager we’d take her friends with us to watch Anderlecht. The noise, the permitted release of the shouting, was what struck them. It’s what’s distinctive, I think, about live sport. When England played in Russia there was a second sound: a continuous drummer in the England end, sometimes joined by a tuba and a trumpet. I suppose that everyone in the stadiums remembers it; on TV it is almost gone; the crowd noise too.
You feel more in the stadium. On Saturday afternoon I had tears in my eyes as they played God save the queen (God save the queen!) at the start of the match. The other person who did had also been at the group games in Russia.
What else is there to say, now we’re in the semi-finals? I’m going to wear a waistcoat to work tomorrow. My friend, who also plays on the right wing, says she’s going to try to get a haircut like Trippier’s.
(I’m sorry Russia went out. I liked Dzyuba, with his American football shoulders, and the manager who does not smile.)
Don’t hope, says my son, it only makes it worse.
(Scotland fans on the way back from a qualifying game against Croatia, Zürich airport, 2005)