3 words. (4, if you’re being pedantic). We’ve all heard them repeatedly. We’ve sung them. We’ve asked, and been asked the magic question.
Did you know?
It’s coming home.
Ah yeah. Thanks for the reminder.
Non brits probably and quite deservedly hate us. The Danish goalkeeper rolled his eyes when asked how he felt about stopping it coming home. Has it ever been home? He asked. The man makes a good point. I was in Chile for the 2018 World Cup, where the phrase ‘It’s coming home’ was ridiculed every time it was mentioned (it was mentioned a lot). ‘What is this stupid coming home shit’, a Portugese amigo politely paraphrased. Until he heard those first magic chords; he very much still believed by the end of the song.
And not being content with just the one banger to contain the country’s favorite catchphrase, the nation has a new anthem: Southgate You’re the One. The person who first came up with the lyrics ‘Southgate you’re the one//you still turn me on// football’s coming home again’ to the tune of Atomic Kitten’s ‘Whole Again’, is aside from being a lyrical genius, probably feeling proud as punch right now. What an accolade, hearing their creation being belted out at every pub in the country and bringing Atomic Kitten out of their decade-long hibernation to re-record the old classic.
Why are England so obsessed with this phrase? It hasn’t been ‘home’ since 1966. If we’re defining home by the amount of time spent somewhere, then football is a much loved resident of either Germany or Brazil. Yet we don’t hear other nations belting out ‘es kommt nach haus’ or ‘está voltando para casa’.
If we go back to origins, there is a bit more of a claim, but its definitive ‘home’ is murky. Forms of football were played way back in the day in ancient China, Greece and Japan, when we were still living it large in caves. There is no doubt that England have had a large influence on the sport – the Tudors were big fans of football, and folk football became popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Modern football took shape in public schools a bit later, with rules and standards being imposed by the FA after its creation in 1908.
But despite differences in opinion as to the real homeland of football, on Sunday evening, I along with millions of others will be getting lairy at the TV and jumping in on that mob mentality, as England get to the final at an international tournament for the first time since ‘66. What’s more, it feels good supporting a team without a load of egos and scandals. Kane comes across as a genuinely decent family man, Rashford has done more for hungry kids in the last year than the entire Tory party for the last ten, and Gareth Southgate is the softly spoken, slightly awkward but steady handed leader the nation needs (Southgate you’re the one).
Football has packed its bags, arrived at the airport, made it through security and is about to board the plane. It’s coming home.