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An unfashionable passion

In the coming weeks England will be overran with the national flag. St Georges crosses everywhere. On the cars, hanging on shopfronts, in pubs and clubs. Even the odd dentist waiting room may be adorned with a red cross on a white background.

However, it wasn’t always like this. In 1986 England’s tournament came belatedly to life when Gary Lineker beat Poland 3-0. This bought much needed relief to the country and despite the sluggish start England qualified for the second round. This sent me into a litte bout of Word Cup fever….not that I’ve ever been lacking in that condition!! To demonstrate to Lineker and co that the nation was well and truly behind them I lovingly placed an England flag in the bedroom window.

Younger people reading might find this hard to believe but there was a time when football wasn’t fashionable. In fact, football supporters were pariahs, regarded with disgust and contempt. Walking down a street wearing a football shirt could result in people crossing the road to avoid you and if fathers found out their teenage daughters were dating a football fan it could signal a sudden halt to blossoming love. I remember starting work in 1985 and telling one of my colleagues I was a Stoke fan and attended matches and she nearly dropped her sponge. She shook her head and told me she was surprised because I’d “Seemed such a nice lad”. In the mid 80s football was not something the nation could easily hold close to it’s heart.

So the flag in the bedroom window was far from joining in with a trend. It was regarded with confusion!! People would walk past the house and glance up and notice it then stand for several seconds with big question marks over their heads. It was viewed as a quirky teenage eccentricity and just one of those odd things you do when you lack total sanity.

So in the coming weeks, the country will be taken over by the flags. Some of the flyers may not be commmitted fans and in many respects it could be seen a johnny come lately action to those of us for whom football has always been a fashionable passion. But it symbolises that the game has survived and now thrives and, contrary some peoples views, it’s always been possible to be a passionate England fan without feeling the need to smash somebody’s face in. So lets embrace it.

4 days 11 hours 55 minutesto go, where’s that bloody flag??

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