AFTER being on a collective high for one month, the country is now suffering from a touch of the Long Euros.
Perhaps you know the symptoms. Disappointment. Regret. Depression.
And a sadness that goes beyond losing a big football match.
Because the clock has been turned back to less happy times.
A drunken mob without tickets invaded the stadium at Wembley and ruined the night for thousands.
Three young men who were brave enough to take penalties were the object of racist abuse that could have come from the darkest days of the Seventies.
And after four weeks of what felt like genuine national unity, everything that divided us before these Euros came roaring back with a vengeance.
The England squad’s day trip to 10 Downing Street was quietly cancelled after Tyrone Mings suggested Home Secretary Priti Patel “stoked the fire” of racism for not denouncing England fans who were not very keen on players taking the knee because of its association with the Black Lives Matter protests.
Tyrone seems to believe that anyone who objects to “taking the knee” is racist.
Others will disagree.
But Twitter brutally piled on Patel — the daughter of Ugandan Asians who fled to the UK from Idi Amin — shrieking she MUST be a racist because she is a Tory who supported Brexit.
After the collective euphoria of the Euros, we were suddenly talking about yobbery, racism, taking the knee and — God help us — Brexit.
When England were storming to their first final in a major tournament for more than half a century, this country felt more united than it has done for years.
We do not feel united now.
And if you remember football’s dark ages, then the sight of thousands of fans without tickets invading Wembley will have chilled your blood.
Because this is how tragedies happen. This is how people die.
There was a ring of blancmange around Wembley on Sunday night that was breached with sickening ease by thousands of drunken morons.
How many? Nobody knows. But enough to leave children in tears. Enough to have one fan screaming at a steward, “Do your f***ing job!”. Enough to crush the ribs of Harry Maguire’s father, Alan. Enough for ex-Leeds United player Dominic Matteo to leave the match before it even began.
“The stewards were not equipped to handle these scumbags and the police were too slow to react to the violence,” said Matteo.
“I didn’t even stay to watch the game as the atmosphere was so hostile at many different points of entry, with children present being pushed to the ground, scared and crying.”
They are all blaming each other now, all those responsible for Wembley’s wall of blancmange. The truth is they all failed.
The football authorities who are ultimately responsible for the smooth running of the tournament.
The police who cravenly surrendered Wembley Way to an army of aggressive, rat-faced morons.
And the woeful stadium stewards who were too scared, inept or corrupt — at least one was seen with pockets stuffed with cash — to do their job.
BAD OLD DAYS
It is a miracle that nobody died.
I feel like the clocks have been turned back to the football culture of my youth and young manhood. The aggression. The synchronised puking.
And, yes, the racism.
But in the bad old days, racist abuse was bellowed shamelessly and unpunished from the terraces and the stands.
Now it has retreated into the fetid shadows of social media.
The Centre For Countering Digital Hate found 106 accounts targeting Rashford, Sancho and Saka, 59 of them based outside of the UK.
When 30million watched the game, and the streets around a defaced Manchester mural of Rashford are full of nothing but love, these figures surely suggest — don’t they? — that the overwhelming majority of us are appalled by racism.
This love for Gareth Southgate’s multi-racial England squad — and the out-pouring of support for Rashford, Sancho and Saka — do not suggest to me that this country is a cesspit of racism.
Just the opposite.
And lest we forget — the football was glorious. This tournament was exactly the lift our country needed after 55 years of failure, five years of Brexit and 16 months of global pandemic.
One golden month of football united our country in a way that we have not been united for many years. Let’s try to hold on to that feeling of national unity.
It would be the greatest prize of all.
I’ll do it Maya way, thanks very much guys
MAYA Jama curls up on a private jet with a big smile that suggests she doesn’t have a care in the world.
Not the chaos at Heathrow. Not the Balearic Islands coming off the green list at 4am tomorrow morning.
And not the news that five million Brits have had Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines that were made in India and have yet to be cleared by the European Medicines Agency.
Nothing bothers Maya on her private jet.
Should we assume it never left the runway?
Blame game’s crazy
I RECALL the 1998 World Cup in France, when David Beckham’s effigy – complete with Alice band – was hung from lampposts.
My then editor Piers Morgan got me to write a feature comparing and contrasting Michael Owen and David Beckham.
Owen had just scored one of the great World Cup goals, against Argentina.
Beckham had been sent off after 47 minutes in the same match for a petulant kick at Diego Simeone, who predictably acted as if he had been shot.
England fought on heroically with just ten men but went out after extra time and a penalty shoot-out.
It was universally believed that we could have won the match and possibly the World Cup if Beckham hadn’t been sent off. So Beckham was vilified.
You would never have guessed that years later we would all get over it and David would become a national treasure.
A timely reminder for all of us.
It’s only a game. Honest.
Not so Meg-a
PRINCE Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview is up for an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Hosted Non-fiction category.
“Three days before our wedding, we got married,” Meghan memorably told gullible old Oprah, claiming the happy couple’s real wedding ceremony was conducted in their back yard with just the Archbishop of Canterbury in attendance.
Is that risible flight of fantasy up for a non-fiction gong too?
GILLIAN Anderson reveals she has stopped wearing a bra – and will never use one again.
“I don’t care if my breasts reach my belly button. I’m not wearing a bra any more. They are just too ****ing uncomfortable.”
I felt similar discomfort after watching Gillian’s over-acting as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown. The contrived accent, hunchbacked stoop, exaggerated mannerisms. Now that was uncomfortable.
GEORGE Michael’s estate stands accused of cashing in on his memory with “overpriced tat”, including a plug-ugly figurine that is yours for £150.
That George ornament doesn’t belong on someone’s mantelpiece.
It belongs in a skip.
Lay off Matt’s source
WHEN he was Health Secretary, Matt Hancock imposed the most draconian restrictions on British freedom ever seen during peacetime.
But while Matt was telling you that you couldn’t hug your mother at your father’s funeral, he was secretly collecting saliva samples from his hired help.
Caught on CCTV with his hand exploring the contours of aide Gina Coladangelo’s backside, his tongue tickling her tonsils and his bald patch gleaming romantically under the strip lighting, Hancock was revealed as a hypocrite of unfeasibly large proportions.
He betrayed every one of us who has been kept apart from the people we love.
The Sun’s scoop did exactly what newspapers are meant to do – it spoke truth to power, it dragged the double standards of the powerful into withering daylight.
And whoever blew the whistle on the hypocritical Health Secretary did an enormous public service to this nation.
But on Thursday the authorities struck back.
The Information Commissioner’s Office – Britain’s data watchdog – raided two homes, seizing computers and other devices in the hunt for the whistleblower.
The ICO exists to ensure the private details we give the government and businesses are kept responsibly.
It does not exist to keep ministerial love affairs secret.
It does not exist to make whistleblowers regret going public with vital information.
It does not exist to put off future whistleblowers when the next minister is caught with his metaphorical trousers down.
Whoever exposed Hancock’s rank hypocrisy doesn’t deserve to be hounded.
They deserve a medal.
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