We managed to get Cumberland FA's CEO Ben Snowdon to give his thoughts on 'the Biggest Game in a Generation' ahead of the Euro 2020 Final!
If, like me, you support England I am sure that you are getting more and more excited and more and more nervous as we edge closer to, what for most of us will be, the first major final in our lifetime.
The semi final left me emotional drained and immediately after the game I said that it was the happiest I had ever been, which I had to quickly retract as my wife kindly reminded me of the birth of my two children.
However, it did make me think of why the National team means so much to me and probably to so many of us here in Cumberland.
When I was growing up there were not very many football matches that I could watch on TV. So, like The FA Cup Final, England games were an exciting and special experience for me. My earliest memory was Mexico 86, where I was woken up and allowed to watch the England games on TV. And it was Italy 1990 where, thanks to Gazza, I really fell in love with football, a love affair that, despite being a Sunderland fan, continues to this day and has led to me being lucky enough to have it involved in my career.
So England games became an integral part of my life, so much so that whilst I struggle to remember a lot of key things from my life, I am unusually able to recall with detail where I was for most of England’s pivotal moments (often known as defeats) from previous major tournaments.
I am also able to remember who I was with and whether this was my family in the early tournaments, to friends and fellow students (at Euro 1996) to my girlfriend and now wife in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010, to visits to Wembley with my Uncle (who took me to most of my matches and was by far the biggest influence on my passion for watching football) and my father (who likewise was the reason why I played the game and more specifically love to coach), to today being with my own family in 2018 and 2020(21). These people are the most significant individuals in my life and evoke so many happy memories, despite the results and/or performances on the pitch.
After the last 18 months we have had, recalling experiences like these have been vitally important and I think we all desperately needed the opportunity to create some new positive memories to block out the difficulty that many of us have experienced throughout this ongoing pandemic.
I have now not seen my own father for over 12 months, as he was taken into care during lockdown due to advanced dementia and to date the restrictions, as well as the horrible illness he has, does not allow for me to visit or speak to him by other means. At times this has left me annoyed. I have been irritated with politicians. Incensed with the media. Resentful of the public etc.
And this is why this group are special.
Not just because of their talent and flair and the fact that they are led by a manager that I honestly believe is the best in my lifetime (and I loved Bobby Robson so do not say that easily).
Not because they show a character that is summed up by the fact that I honestly wouldn’t be bothered if my son had asked for any of the squad members names on the back of his shirt (he has Sterling by the way so is a lot better judge of player than I am).
But because together they have done something that no one else appeared able to do and that’s, at a time when we have felt so divided as a nation, they have brought us together.
They have reminded me, and hopefully you, as to what it truly means to be English as I am reminded of a quote from poet George Santayana who said that “England is the paradise of individuality, eccentricity, heresy, anomalies, hobbies and humours”.
This is so true as which other nation would do some of the things we are seeing on social media?
I loved the fact that after the semi final win on my timeline I had a video of ‘limbs’ in Botchergate immediately followed by a video from an Islamic School in Blackburn showing equal amounts of wild celebration for ENGLAND … OUR team.
So, wherever you are watching the final and whatever the result. Enjoy the game. Enjoy the company. Stay safe and make some more positive memories.
Me personally, and for my dad and my uncle, I have never stopped believing and once more I dare to dream because you know what… good times have never felt so good …. So good ……..
Cumberland FA CEO
Coinciding with the Euro's Cumberland FA have joined forces with Cumbria Police and other organisations to send a clear message that domestic abuse should never be tolerated.
The campaign encourages the public to ‘blow the whistle’ on domestic abuse and report incidents, so that action can be taken to safeguard people at risk of harm.
Read more about the Blow The Whistle Campaign
To find out more about domestic abuse and accessing the support service click below:
Visit the Cumbria Police site
PLEASE NOTE: There is a button to 'Close The Site Quickly' if you need to.