Could there be a better time to be living in London? For the first time since 1990, England made the semifinals of the World Cup, and I got to witness it first hand!
For their match against Columbia, I searched online for the best sports bars within walking distance to watch the game. Evidently, that’s just not a thing in England. I finally found a place called “The Bricklayers Pub” which is directly across the street from the new Tottenham Hotspurs stadium. It had two TV’s, yet neither of them was above the bar. I got there about 30 minutes early so I could ensure I had a spot and low and behold, the place was nearly empty until right before kickoff.
It had been a while since I’d had a cold beer or even a cold drink for that matter. So, when I saw “Extra Cold” on the Carlsberg tap, I ordered up a pint immediately. Later, I found out that was the official beer of the England National Team, and essentially it was the equivalent of a Budweiser. Another thing I noticed about the pubs is the majority of them don’t serve food. While they allow you to carry in your own, or even have something delivered, it felt like this was quite a lost opportunity. Maybe that’s just the entrepreneur in me. Regardless, I was here to watch football!
With England leading 1-nil with only five minutes to go, I decided to walk back to the house to be able to put Nolan to bed. I was sure the game was over, but in the four minutes of stoppage time, Columbia scored the equalizer and sent the game to overtime. That said, Nolan got a special late bedtime as he stayed up and watched not only the overtime but the penalty kicks as well! The win was the first penalty kick game England has ever won.
For the quarterfinal game, I wanted another perspective on the game, so I found a different pub on the East side of Tottenham. The sheer joy and exuberance on display was something special to witness. When England scored their first goal against Sweden, the entire pub erupted in pleasure. Screaming, hugging each other and singing:
It’s coming home,
It’s coming home,
It’s coming, football’s coming home!
I’ll tell you, the little jingle by Three Kings was quite catchy, and I found myself singing it for a couple of weeks. Later in the game when England scored their second goal against the Swedes, the game was clearly over, and the celebration continued.
While they ultimately fell short of their only Cup since they hosted it in 1966, we honestly could not have planned for this. Not only being in England during the World Cup, but also for the team to play as well as they did on their run. Quite an experience.