Hope, A Cruel Delusion

In 2019 England’s rugby team played an absolute blinder in the semi final of the rugby World Cup to beat the no. 1 side, New Zealand. I watched in front of a big screen at Twickenham barely daring to breathe, let alone believe. The final, in the Yokohama stadium in Japan was a week later. My son happens to be a close friend of the England rugby team kit boy… sorry, logistics manager with whom he was at Uni. ‘Dad, fancy going to Tokyo…?’

We did.

We had a great time. England lost. Of course.

Earlier that year, England were favourites for the cricket world cup, being hosted in England. After the usual scares, England were in the final at Lord’s cricket ground. I had two tickets so went with my lad. It was the most dramatic game ever in a final, the epitome of a once in a lifetime event and I was there. My boy was jumping as the tension grew and grew. He relished it, the uncertainty. He had an unshakeable belief that we would somehow prevail.

He took this picture of me, just before what’s called the ‘super over’, a sort of penalty shoot out for cricket. That’s never happened before in a world cup final.

Supporting England hurts, even if they eventually win, as they did with the Cricket.

So I apologise if my reaction to England’s comfortable passage through the quarter finals of the Euros is one of a large sigh. Even when we were 3-0 ahead I held my head in my hands if the commentators suggested England ‘had it in the bag’ and were ‘nailed on to win’, wanting them to curl up and… well, suffer something unpleasant… The concept of the commentator’s curse is a thing. A THING, I tell you.

I’ve learnt such things exist, ever since I was blamed, aged 9 for Germany’s equalising goal in the final minute of the 1966 world cup final by the simple expedient of entering the TV room at that precise moment. A child’s curse, if you like. The despair on the faces of the adults as they realised their dreams had to go on hold was quite frankly terrifying. That we won thirty minutes later didn’t remove the scars of that moment.

The lesson, I took away? That it’s not the despair of losing that hurts, that stops hearts, that hollows you out.

No, it’s the sodding hope that precedes it.

And on Wednesday at 8pm BST, once again, as I’ve been at countless sporting events since that fateful day in 1966, I will cloak myself in hope. I will tell myself it doesn’t matter. I will sit still and watch. I will think of my dad – he understood; after all we shared some (few) moments of euphoria and several of despair.

South Africa, 1997, British Lions beat the Springboks in Cape Town; can you see the underlying exhaustion behind my smile? Dad’s had a few beers, to numb the likely pain…

And the hope will crush me. Again. It’s an addiction, damn it. But I’m not stopping hoping…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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11 Responses to Hope, A Cruel Delusion

  1. A great take on such rare events. We are much better as underdogs

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  2. trifflepudling says:

    Goodness, I just re-lived all that when reading! This will raise your BP but England will win the trophy, I just feel it. I know all about the commentator’s curse as did Damon Hill, who was saying to himself as he was on the last lap of his championship-clinching race “For God’s sake, shut up, Murray (Walker)!”
    I was 11 when England last won a major football (soccer) trophy. We lived in central London and the evening of the day our team won in 1966 we went along to the hotel near Kensington Gardens to see them show off the Jules Rimet trophy, unforgettable. The current trophy does look like a volleyball on a vase with gold custard poured over it, though (according to Fantasy Football League)…

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  3. Ruth says:

    Cheer up Geoff, it could be worse – you might be Scottish, supporting Scotland in a total vacuum of matches to watch! 🙂

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  4. Ritu says:

    Hope, His Geoffleship, Hope!!!

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  5. And this, dear Geoff, is why I don’t watch sport. Well, actually, that is not true, I find it boring, but it sounds good.

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  6. Any team I have supported always lost so hope was killed early. Believe me, it is better this way.

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  7. JT Twissel says:

    I guess it’s that roller coaster of emotions that keeps us alive. Your dad undoubtedly recognized that.

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  8. I hope you also will cross the fingers for your football team, after Germany has lost. 😉 Have a nice week, Geoff! xx Michael

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  9. Elizabeth says:

    Here it was always like that with my baseball team the Boston Red Sox. Sadly they won a couple o World Series and it hasn’t been as satisfyingly disappointing since.

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  10. Suzanne says:

    Sports they will be the death of us, or our voices – Go the ALL BLACKS. Sports aside, your post had a lovely link between fathers and sons.

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  11. petespringerauthor says:

    Ah, the commentators curse. Does it still apply if I mute the volume, so I don’t have to listen to those blowhards?

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