Grown Men Crying
When Tottenham great Paul Gascoigne came off the field in the 1990 Semi-Final of the World Cup - he wore his passions on his sleeve and experienced players felt the weight of a nation on their shoulders that when England came up short in the penalty shoot out - it created massive hurt in the nation. That was the last full year I resided in England, and I thought by emigrating to Canada that my affilation with England would begin to diminish as I settled down in my new country and consequently becoming a citizen of Canada.
Now in this particular World Cup my very roots and allegiances have been revealed and with the involvement of 5 Tottenham players (that is half of the Tottenham team) [Another quarter play for Belgium) and the rest for France (Lloris) Denmark (Erickson) South Korea (Son Heung-Min) - so that alone is something I have never seen as a Tottenham supporter and when Deli Alli got England second goal, it seemed like he was writing a script that was to be expected. Even the Swedish players were like nothing like their superb performances including their loss to Germany (which was not consequential - but demonstrated that they outplayed Germany). Now against England they looked second rate, but they did have THREE efforts on goal - only to meet a goalkeeper so inspired that he produced three World Class saves.
Notice just how much the memes of the past are being addressed by the "It Coming Home - We Still Believe" rendition
Chris Guest may predict Belgium vs Croatia - but he is assuming that the French will wilt against the Belgians - when this French team thrive on teams that come at them - so that basically neutralizes Belgium's greatest threat which is its explosive speed on the counter, especially the devastating De Bruyne - but France its has it's own speed demon in Mbappe and they have just as devastating midfield generals in Griezman and Pogba and a Tottenham goalkeeper that has already made a World Class save at a key point in the Uruguay match. So realistically the sheer balance and quality of the French team is greater than the quality of Belgium - even if French legend Thierry Henry is an advisor to the Belgium team.
France, Belgium and Croatia do have one thing that would hold them in good stead in prior World Cups, they all include World Class players with high emotional intensity. Yet in this World Cup we have seen the Big Boys dispatched even before the World Cup Finals kicked off in Russia, with Italy, Chile and Netherlands all failing to make it Russia. Then we saw the elimination of Germany and then Argentina and finally Brazil at the hands of a Belgium team who took a risk of playing a brand new formation with a false #9 and Lukaku sacrificing his Golden Boot race by playing on the wing. As each BIG team went out - there were visible shots of what it means to go out of the World Cup because what is being bust is dreams, hopes and expectations. These are the traditional variables that make grown men cry.
Hey, its great to see guys cry, we need more of it. It is not effiminate, it means these guys care. Why we cry over such a superficial thing as a football match is an entirely different thing also. Or so I thought so and maybe I need to cry a little more than I usually do in my own stoic pose. Now with all the stuff happening around the England team successes in 2018, and especially now having experienced the cathartic moment of England finally winning a penalty shoot-out and not in a tense mode but with players a cool as a cucumber - with only Henderson of Liverpool missing a penalty for England, though Henderson has won 29 out of 29 England games that he has played in and turned out to be the Man of the Match in the Quarter-Final game against Sweden.
This World Cup has touched my tear ducts because it is has ignited my "home" country rather than my home. My home is Canada and I need to think, be and feel like a Canadian - but this World Cup has revealed in me, that I did not leave England in my own violation and that my heart is still back in London - I emigrated with my family because my entire family moved to Canada - I had to visit the United States Embassy because I got a Green Card to go to the United States when I first got married - but I never went to the United States, I kept my wife in England for three years but then my family announced that they are moving to Canada. I had a choice to make and I made it. Yet I only got Canadian immigration based on my Green Card - having not accumulated sufficient points, I told the immigration officer that I would be separated to my family by a border, as I would have to move to Buffalo USA to be closer to them. She took my green card and spoke to her superiors and I was stamped for approval to emigrate to Canada. Yet it seems now that I have come to the realization that I moved in body and maybe in mind but not in spirit.
A part of me lingers in the Old Country "back home" and so the tears that role down my cheeks now are not just because England or winning or because there are so many Tottenham players contributing to this success but that song "it's coming home" is touching heart-strings that were buried deep within me. One's I denied for these past couple of decades because to all intents and purposes it has been a highly successful move to Canada and I am happy for my family because they are very happy - but now this World Cup has opened up this space that still has a connection like a Salmon has to the place it was born.
So a grown man is now also crying and I can see that tears of joy are mixed with what other immigrants to a new country must feel. There is of course the child within us and it is cute to see all those young children in tears as they have to come to terms with loss. It can serve as a good education for a young child who assumes in their life that they can have anything they want - so long as the parent is wise in kind.
That lad from Uruguay was at least indoctrinated to believe that Uruguay will win the World Cup - but HOME is a totally different meaning and level which is not at all a child's heart expressing loss or disappointment. I won't be disappointed if England lose in this World Cup but I will be now crying buckets of tears if they win this World Cup, as i will the day Tottenham finally host the Premier League Title for the first time (which will represent their second title). Like that young child I was raised with Tottenham in my blood from the age of 8 years old (if not 7 I can't remember the year itself).
It is interesting to also at this juncture explore the story with the song by New Order "Express Yourself" which was for the 1990 England World Cup Team.
It is motivating to watch but it does not penetrate the psyche of a nation and its message is only to "express yourself'" on the field of play - there is no inclusion of past hurts and all the words the media used to damn the England team - words which now in the "It's Coming Home" video are a rejection and contempt for that way of thinking and in reality the England team of 1990 are cast as failures - but no matter what happens in the Semi-Final or even the Final, this England team has defied expectations. So that is another resonant point which also adds to the tears of joy I now express during this World Cup, because this time it is not about proving yourself to others including the English media, it is not about defying expectations because this England team have won me over simply for being utterly comfortable in their skin, to recognize camaraderie is different from hype, from enjoying the entire experience in Russian 2018 FULLY and WITHOUT ego.
The Semi-Final defeat in 1990 was heart-breaking but heroic and the England team then had no idea how the nation embraced their actual exploits in the face of going to Italy with a virulent and cruel football press and media attacking Bobby Robson. In the end Bobby Robson was vindicated and even celebrated, as he should have been before he passed away after a battle with cancer in his late 70's. The documentary of that semi-final story is worth watching :
This is not a statement of being a 21st Century metrosexual man that I cry tears of joy now - but that these things are much more deeper than the surface or superficial tears of a momentary loss or victory - in the case of players it includes all the hours toiling in training and engaging the world in media fish-bowl and for the fans, especially the ones that have left the country of their birth - a reminder that years spent in the place of one's birth are very much a part of the fabric of our being as is making a new life in the place of our children's birthplace.
This 2018 World Cup in Russia is now extra special for me whether England win or do not win this World Cup.