World cup fever has taken control of the nation. England have reached the semi-finals for the first time in twenty-eight years, and the country has gone mad. Harry McGuire’s head is a national hero, pubs get flooded in beer each time a goal is scored and Three Lions is played on loop. Record viewing numbers were recorded for the quarter-final game against Sweden, followed by the nation losing its mind and celebrating in style. Unfortunately, I was due to be in the air, flying home from Majorca for the second half of the crucial match, but somehow, my prayers were answered, and my flight was delayed so I could stream the match at the airport to see Southgate’s men continue their journey of bringing football home.
I’ve always been very lucky with flights. I have never missed one in my life, and never had a serious delay. Until the time came to face Sweden in the world cup. All day I had dreamed for an hour setback to catch the game and see England dominate to cruise through the next stage of the tournament, and in a way, that dream became a reality.
After idling through airport security, the flight information was updated to my joyous reaction that I would now be able to watch the historic victory. Easy Jet’s unreliability had pulled through and granted me sufficient time to watch the game, and they were in fact so horrendously behind schedule that I could watch the other game which decided who we would face in the semi. Most people would be horrified at the prospect of a seven-hour delay, but in this crazy world where England could win the world cup, Jesse Lingard could soon be knighted and Gareth Southgate could end up negotiating the Brexit deal, I was more than happy to sit back and watch the drama unfold.
Sitting at the airport burger king I nervously nursed a whopper meal as the game kicked off. Sacrificing my phone’s cellular data, I was glued to my phone screen as England anxiously played their way into the game. A brief distraction came as my mum messaged to assure me that football was coming home. Another reaffirming message came from my girlfriend, clarifying that football was coming home. As the ball went out for a corner, I heard a shriek from the neighbouring café, implying that football was about to come home. A few more similarly ecstatic reactions circled me, insinuating the imminent departure of football on its journey home. The ball was played in, and then remarkably powered into the back of the net by the ‘slabhead’ of Harry McGuire, and I realised I had caught up on the lagging stream, and now I could see for myself that football was taking its next steps to coming home. Amongst the confused faces of unaware travellers, grinning Englishmen were gleaming as England gained a strong foothold in the game.
It wasn’t until after the euphoria of the winning performance began to wear off that I realised how long my seven-hour delay really was. With five of those hours still to go, it began to dawn on me that other than the next game in a few hours, I was stuck, alone, in a very boring airport. After a brief wander assessing my situation, I was forced to accept my fate and wait for time to dwindle on. It is remarkable how such a short flight can be delayed for so long. Another plane could fly between the destination three times whilst I waited on the uncomfortable, bottom numbing airport seat. Football itself could travel home faster than me. I worked out that in the time it took for me to wait at the airport, endure my delay and then my flight, England could play enough football to win the world cup and bring football home.
These barely fathomable numbers, brain aching maths and the excitement of the game had drained my energy and the rumble of a hungry stomach began. Unwilling to forfeit my seat I tried to wait out the hunger. Worrying that circling chair predators would swoop in like lazy vultures, I got comfy for the next game.
By half time, the effect of the delay was taking its toll. Time had seemed to freeze. The football went by at a glacial pace and the minutes towards my departure refused to tick down. I was so hungry I thought I’d lost weight. My shorts felt loose, and I feared they would slip down off my now malnourished, skeletal waist line. The famine was so desperate that even the prospect of the oddly coloured sandwiches opposite seemed edible. It’d be so long sat in the unstimulating scene of the airport that I’d began to grow facial hair. It took me nineteen years to grow my first facial hair, but now, in this plane induced purgatory I could feel the beard of a castaway being established on my face. I feared soon I would be talking to a volleyball named Wilson.
Luckily, I was kept sane by the other football game going to penalties, dragging out the time for my entertainment, and finally, before I lost my mind it was time to board. I feared that after the eternal delay my passport may have expired but breezed through to the cramped comfort of the plane and the thought of getting to bed. I was finally going home. And so is football.