It was 1990 and back then my Mam would put me to bed at 9pm sharp, ready for school the next day.
But something special was happening on TV and I’ll never forget the moment that she said I could stay up late and watch it. As well as that, there’s two other things that I’ll never forget about the Italia 90 World Cup:
1.) That Cameroon player (Roger Miller) who would score and then dance round the corner flag rubbing his head and his stomach.
But more than that, I’ll never forget watching all those games against Belgium, Cameroon and Germany etc, on a huge TV in our house, surrounded by dozens of aunties, uncles, cousins and friends. It’s one of my very best memories as a child. And as a parent, if you’re responsible for organising that type of gathering, it must be a magical feeling to watch and look around the room as others delight in what you’ve “put on”. The iPhones will capture pictures, but they’re often so strong that the memories and all the emotions stay with you for a life time. To this day, I can remember nearly all of the “exit” songs the TV plays when England gets knocked out and can picture the exact scene, whenever any comes on the radio.
This is my first BIG tournament of Football where I get to watch it with my little boy, Harry. We’ve already watched our first “England Vs Australia” Ashes series together. He won’t remember it, but I will. And no photos of him in my lap, dressed in white and with a bottle of milk in his mouth as we watched, will ever be needed for me to remember it (I’ll talk him through it someday).
Now, as “newbie” Dad, I’ve been told to look out for and that I’ll never forget the “first” anything he does. As in, his first cry, his first smile, first tooth, first laugh, first word and so on. But what about wearing his first England footy strip? One with HIS name on the back? No one told me how I would feel the first day that I saw that.
And this last week it happened. I watched, time seemingly standing still, as I made eye-to-eye contact with my little baby holding on the side of our couch and wearing his full England kit and him giggling back at me. It was a moment I’ll never forget and a realisation that my 8 month old little baby, had become a little boy. And it’s then you realise the magic that these big England games can really have upon you (if you look for it).
It should never be about the score. Sure, it’s important and it helps. But what’s so special about periods of time like these next two weeks is that you get to spend it with people that you want to be with, and maybe make some life long memories to go along with it.
I didn’t get to watch the first game with Harry on Saturday for obvious reasons, like an 11 pm Kick off (it was the first night I actually WANTED him to wake up). But, and maybe I’ll have to twist his Mam’s arm about this one, he’ll be sat right there with me and watching past his usual 9pm bed time, when they play tomorrow night.
And one more thing: The name on the shirt Harry is wearing… I wanted “Hazza” on the back, but his Mam didn’t get the joke. So we settled on “Goughy” with the number 8. It’s a very special number that locks him close and tight to his Uncle Keith, every time he wears it.
Now, you can say what you like about Football and the antics of the players who play these days, but when it comes to the really BIG games, you can’t deny that it has the ability to put friends and family in a room, bring important people close together and create memories like no other sport can. Enjoy the game. I sincerely hope you get to do it with all yours (friends and family) tomorrow night.
Article Published in the Hartlepool Mail on Wed 18th June. 2014