Everything you need to know about the shebang in South Africa
"That's the last time I follow England. What a load of rubbish. Four years of waiting for this? I'm never supporting them again, ever, and I don't care how they do in this World Cup."
What a load of codswallop, twaddle and dare I say, nonsense.
It's extraordinary how many people were heard saying something along these lines after England's pitiful showing – or non-showing – against Algeria. Ninety minutes of frustration, agony and boredom, and suddenly everyone is checking their family tree for a Brazilian great-uncle. After all, why support England if they're not going to do well, eh?
Incredible. I'm sure you thinking the same thing; that it's incredible that people would think this way. But, and here's the point: they're not. Not really. They may say they're not bothered about the World Cup any more – they may say they no longer support England (especially with exciting 'second teams' such as Chile, Japan and plat du jour Spain coming to the fore) – but one afternoon proved to me that wasn't the case. Yes, it was Wednesday's game against Slovenia, watched in Fever Pitch on Fulham Broadway.
On the face of it: a decent game. England looked pretty good, but thanks to favourable comparisons with the footballing atrocity that was their performance against Algeria, they were widely agreed to have been playing on a level several planes higher than God. Several reviews called England 'flawless', which makes you wonder what they expect from the Three Lions when they have to do more than beat a relative minnow 1-0.
This is not to take anything away from an impressive England, but rather give it to the even more impressive England fans back in Blighty. Yes, aside from a few empty seats, the big match atmosphere in South Africa has been excellent throughout – but if you're in England, you're barely missing out. How could you be, when you can watch the game in a bar such as Fever Pitch?
To call the atmosphere electric is to do electricity too great a credit. It was an electrical storm. Every half-chance for either team was greeted with a roar or groan that could probably have been heard by the players in South Africa. If you want a specific example, when Jermain Defoe shinned the ball through Samir Handanovic's greasy mitts to make it 1-0, I thought I'd gone deaf. My ears were genuinely ringing for 10 seconds afterwards.
It's so refreshing (no pun intended) to drink and watch football in bar so dedicated to those two pastimes. Obviously watching England-Algeria wasn't going to be great fun anywhere, but standing in another West London bar near a bunch of Friday nightists blithely unaware of the game and a gaggle of giggling girls who looked up once or twice during the full 90 minutes after booking a table right in front of the big screen (breathe) was enough to make a sane person – or, indeed an insane person – scream.
So thank God for Fever Pitch. Staff obviously excused, only one person in the whole place wasn't glued to one of the 13 screens and that was, well, me (what? I was tweeting. It's my job!).
And unbelievably, the bar is only there for the World Cup: the day after the final, it ceases to be. Frankly, you owe it to yourself as a football fan to watch at least one game there, starting with England vs Germany.
Oh God, England vs Germany. I don't think my heart can take it.
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