With apologies to readers who have no interest in football, I am writing this post in the city where the organised game first began. Sheffield boasts the world's first two properly organised teams - Sheffield FC (formed in 1857) and Hallam FC (formed in 1860). Hallam FC play at the world's oldest continuously used football ground - Sandygate in the Crosspool suburb of the city.
In Yorkshire we know about football. It is a passion that sometimes seems to take on the characteristics of a new religion. You may be down or in bad health, your partner may have left you or you just lost your job - but don't worry there's always football to escape to. Our newspapers are full of football - transfer news, personal relationships, the ups and downs of clubs. In this country, if shown some photos, many more people would instantly recognise Wayne Rooney or David James than Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime-minister) or the new PM himself - the dashing Old Etonian and former pot smoker - David Cameron.
If you haven't yet heard, The World Cup tournament 2010 is currently well under way in South Africa. This English nation had great expectations for our team. Cars, workplaces, pubs and homes have been bedecked with the national flag of St George. And over in South Africa the national team has been supported vociferously by an army of travelling fans.
We stuttered through the group stage to the last sixteen and today played our old enemy - Germany - in Bloemfontein. We lost by four goals to one. The swift, flowing counter-attacking moves of the German frontmen exposed our defence horribly. Even though we had a perfectly good goal disallowed when the score was 2-1, it was clear that England had been outclassed and what hurt more was the sense of unrealised potential - a certain frustration that in some ways the team never really showed up at the party. Our talisman - Wayne Rooney seemed but a shadow of himself and some of our passing was woeful.
So we are out of the tournament and all of England mourns. Our coach was the Italian maestro - Fabio Capello - paid £6million a year and yet his command of English is still only slightly above that of a macaw. So how can he inspire the team? How can he deliver telling halftime talks? England needs an English manager. Back in December 2007, when Capello was appointed, I wrote these words in this blog:- I don't want this Capello and mark my words - it will all end in tears! He is not the man for the job. The only foreign johnnies I would have entertained would have been Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho - both honorary Englishmen who know our game inside out. However, before them I would have still made it top priority to make an Englishman our manager.
So for England, World Cup 2010 is over and our lads are coming home - but not to a heroes' welcome. You can't say they didn't try. Individually, each player was desperate to advance and to bring back the trophy but good heavens - the best we could manage was a slender victory over little Slovenia. So it's back to the drawing board, and the economic winter and newspapers telling us that English football died in Bloemfontein. Rest in Peace.