It is that time of the year again where football rejoice the topic of everyone's little chats and conversations. I can hardly resist to sit tight, not participating as I made my way to the pub last Friday to watch England's first match in the group qualification. As few of my friends and I searched for empty seats, I was observing the crowds. Mostly male, with a pint of beer in their hands eagerly set their eyes to the screens waiting for the kick off in an hour. We found a chairless empty table behind small pillar in the centre of the room which then we gathered few left-over chairs from few different tables and managed to set our own nest in front of the largest screen at the pub. I was not a big fan of football, but I like to be part of the euphoria. An hour gap before the match start given me the chance to observe the crowd more. Most of them came in a large group, and their faces almost flushed-red as probably they were having their third pint of beer and on their way to the drunk-land even far before they need to drink their sorrow. It set a slight treacherous atmosphere as this might go out of hand but it then soon washed away as a close-up shot of England team with their hands on their chest started to sing God Save the Queen. Immediately, the distant chatters at the pub were gone and the entire crowd sang altogether. Their sense of nationalism and pride echoed through their heavy voice yet it sounded serene in the strangest way as I had chills down my spine.
Half way through the match, the heat was getting intense. Not just literally speaking where I could feel the hot summer's night sweats crawling at the back of my neck, but the room was too. Everyone was shouting at the screen, showing their support as if it could transmitted through some sort of invisible teleport to the field in Brazil. England was getting weaker, but hope never left their eyes. The later it got, I could hear the positivity slowly turned into frustration and swears. "Get the fucking ball!" shouted the white middle aged man standing next to me when Sterling missed the ball. Our heights were in the same level as I sat on a high chair for tall tables. I looked over towards him, and our eyes met. He seemed to notice that I was sensing his temper and slowly leaned over me, "Which team are you supporting?" sounded very harmless. He probably he could not tell upon my foreign face and trying to make a small talk, dismissing the impression I had of him. "England, of course." I answered. He seemed relieved knowing we stood on the same side as if Italy and England were water and oil. He carried on commenting the team's strategy that I had no clue of but I politely listened and smiled; partially amused with his opposites behaviors when he was having a conversation with me and when he was focusing on the match. They may seem aggressive but kind at heart. "These blokes better win!"
It got even more intense when Sturridge scored his first goal, everyone was on their feet as if like a thunder of joy just strike them at the same time, all at once. I could feel their happiness which instantly made me feel happy, too. I almost fell off my chair. It was so simple yet the magnitude of cheer amplified the joy throughout the room. To be very honest, the love I had towards England team was never objective: it always been because of I love the country, I am in it and amongst their kind. Other than that, their performance was weak in many aspects. Again, this does not lessen the faith I had in them. Less than a minute after, few of guys in their early twenties with polo shirt buttoned to the top, who were sitting on the front row, starting to throw chairs and empty plastic glass at the screen. This startled me and was obviously unpleasant, but I supposed that was how they showed their enthusiasm. For a whole second, I mapped a get away plan from the back door which was nearby where I sat although the only problem was I had to get through a bunch of tall men around me to get there if things get rough. But luckily, the plan stayed hypothetical as the crowd was still under control until the end of the game — England lost 2-1 to Italy through a smooth goal by Balotelli.
Many sad faces were seen as they made their way out of the pub with their faces facing down. However, the disgusts I had upon them turned into an admiration where I could see the flaming English passion before my eyes. That night everything was almost felt like it was designed for everybody to root for one nation. The nation where I am now. For as long as I have lived in England, on the daily nine-to-five days, most of the times people came across quite bitter towards their own country, but I swore that night everyone did not give any shit on the cheeky political interest, affairs and stood as one. I often forgot that I am in England because I am standing far too close under their nose. But until that moment when everybody sang their national anthem altogether, I finally reminded that I am in England, and I was once again fell in love with it.
A piece by : Fiya Muiz