The relentless march towards an epic homecoming shows no sign of halting.
The World Cup trophy gets closer to home with each passing second. The nearer it gets, the more it gleams. Sir Harry Maguire’s magnetic forehead reflects radiantly as he holds it aloft.
When it does get back to Blighty, where would you rather be? At home swigging pints of vindaloo or out in Russia, gleefully embracing the eye of the storm?
I’m currently sitting at home, listening to World In Motion for the 1,966th time, while Andrew Butler is getting familiar with the locals out in Russia. Time for a little debate.
Why I’d rather be in Russia than England
England stand on the brink of something special, and I’ve had the privilege to see, feel and experience first hand every moment of this incredible World Cup run so far.
There’s been too many moments where I’ve had to pinch myself to check that it’s all real – Harry Kane’s last minute goal, Jesse Lingard’s worldie and England winning a penalty shootout will all go into my top 10 footballing moments that I’ve witnessed live. And yes, I do keep a chart of it.
I think we can all agree as football fans that nothing beats the live experience, and to have been at all of England’s games so far has seen us go to five different cities, experience Russia in all its fullness and see England win four times.
I’ve been enjoying the videos from back home of people going nuts – but inside the stadium, not only can you drink in view of the pitch, a beer and hotdog will only set you back a little over a fiver.
The stadiums are also basically brand new as most of them were only opened a couple of months ago.
Even the bad bits have been memorable – the eruption inside the Spartak Stadium when Colombia scored their last minute equaliser was one of the most impressive sounds I’ve ever heard in a football stadium.
But it’s all about the little moments you don’t get to see back home – the stuff like bumping into Kieran Trippier’s Dad, beaming with pride at his son’s performance. Or the middle-aged England fan, gently weeping in his seat 30 minutes after the final whistle on Saturday afternoon.
Why I’d rather be at home than Russia
When else is the entire country united in joy? Not nod your head and grin when you see your neighbour joy, I’m talking hug them tight and make plans for the future together joy.
It’s a truly once in a generation feeling to walk the streets of England and witness unified elation coming from every nook and cranny.
Whether you’re one of the punters swimming in pints at Boxpark Croydon or you enjoy the games in concentrated silence somewhere quieter, you can’t help but be struck by the outpouring of love for this group of players and staff.
All of this and we haven’t even played the semi-final yet.
I can’t even imagine what the streets of London, or whatever part of England you call home, will be like if we go all the way.
Partly because I’m not letting my mind go there for fear of getting my hopes crushed. Partly because we haven’t won the World Cup since 1966, when I was -26.
We win together. We lose together. Either way, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than home, surrounded by equally joyous or despairing England fans.