Travelling tittle-tattle, tall tales and shameless name-dropping by Jon ‘Don’t Call Me’ Norman

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Wednesday, 23 June 2010

England's coming home?

Bloody England. It looks like South Africa is going to join Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Italy and Scotland as countries I've visited only to see my team lose. Although I never thought it would be Slovenia between us and our all too regular soul searching & scapegoat seeking. Now there's a sport we would be good at.

Don't get me wrong, I never once expected us to return home with the Jules Rimet Trophy squeezed in next to the duty free but I was hoping we'd make it past the fucking group stages.

Before I left I had a quick scan at the calendar and worked out that today was notable for just the one thing in that it's the halfway point of my trip. With just over an hour to go until kick off it could also be the day England get booted out of the competition. The tournament has still got nearly three weeks to run! Ridiculous.

Usually when supporting a team you can rely on a gut feeling to tell you how things are likely to go. The magic of sport is that your gut feeling isn't always right. There in lies part of the appeal. But looking ahead to this afternoon's make or break match with Slovenia I honestly haven't a clue how it's going to go. I can see us scoring early and running out comfortable winners. I can see a tight first half and a late goal for either team in the final stages. I can see a bad refereeing decision proving costly.

I think the last England World Cup game I missed was when Gary Linekar put three past Poland in 1986. And while I'll once again be watching avidly this afternoon it will be a slight anticlimax. For after the dreamlike experience of watching the USA game in the stadium with the fans this time it'll be like everyone back in England lucky enough to be off work. Just me, my fingernails and a TV screen.

A small group of us have been left back in Johannesburg and I'll be producing talkSPORT's Drivetime Show straight after the final whistle. If England lose it'll be a painful couple of hours of live radio for all concerned. And that USA game may be the first and last time I ever get to see England in World Cup action. So for all our bloody sakes COME ON ENGLAND!!!!!!!

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