At approximately 2am last night a nation came together to hope that the assistant referee had made a shocking decision. For split second we hoped that we would finally get revenge for Frank Lampard's ghost goal in the 2010 World Cup. And then the goal was given. The familiar gut-punch big tournament misery. Jonathan Pearce sounding more crestfallen than when Tornado cheated its way to winning the sixth series of Robot Wars against Razer. But this time the feeling was slightly different. Rather than anger and calling for the manager to sacked and online petitions to force certain player out of the team, we felt sorry for the players. When the England Men's go out we feel sorry for ourselves not the players because we know they're all pampered arse-holes with no grasp of the real world. They probably all are still wondering whether the light in fridge goes out when you close it. But the girls played incredibly well last night and were the better team especially in the second half. They deserved to beat Japan despite being underdogs.
But losing was probably for the best thing. Hopefully the performance of the England team will raise awareness of the Women's game, which be an excellent thing. However starting it off by getting to the final, or even winning the World Cup, would have been spoiling it. There would be no way of topping that. And with it expectation would arise, the press would get more on the back of the players expecting them to do well. What made England so good in that tournament is that they played without fear. They the were the underdogs in pretty much every game. Once that tag is gone, the team spirit which was such a rare joy to watch in the England team may well evaporate.
And as well, we are English at the end of the day. We don't like success. Well, at least we don't like instant success. Imagine if Andy Murray had won the first Wimbledon he entered, nobody would have given a shit (yeah, I know he's Scottish but you get my point). The viewing figures for Wimbledon coverage would have plummeted. No, the reason everyone went mental when he won is because he had toiled away for years, getting closer and closer every year. We wouldn't know what to do with (seemingly) instant success. It would have become like in-door cycling, where every four years we assume we are going to win a shit load of medals at the Olympics because we are good at cycling.
In fact, I believe the tragic circumstances of our defeat will strike a cord with most English sport supporters. That moment will go down in history like Ronaldinho accidentally lobbing David Seaman in 2002, the aforementioned Frank Lampard 'goal' against Germany in 2010, the disallowed Sol Campbell goal against Portugal in the 2004 Euro's, moments of pure luck that never goes our way. We are used that feeling which will makes us relate to Women's Football a lot more. I like to the think this bad luck we face is karmic pay-back for enslaving half the world centuries ago, which if it is the case is fair enough.
So England were bloody good and bloody unlucky. I mean let's face it, we probably would have lost the final anyway, and that would have been more heartbreaking. As an Aston Villa fan I don't think I could have taken another cup final defeat this year. USA are very good and are a lot more attacking minded than Japan. England, as good as they were, didn't keep one clean sheet all tournament, the USA would have dicked us. So losing when we did is all for the best. Next World Cup or at the Euros more people will be watching, but watching with optimism and hope rather than a jaded sense of entitlement.