Wednesday night was the first time in my life I was embarrassed to be English.
In the afternoon, as news of the horrific Westminster terror attack broke, I was immensely proud to be English; stories of heroic MPs, brave police officers and courageous members of the public overwhelmed all feelings of hate and anger.
Before kick-off in Dortmund, our German allies applauded ‘God Save the Queen’ in a continued show of unity against the horrors of this world.
Moments later, England fans responded by fiercely booing the German national anthem.
Then midway through the first half, it got worse, so much worse.
For a moment I hoped my ears had deceived me but then, as the ITV commentators took a moment to let the game breathe, the unmistakable drunken howl of ‘Ten German Bombers’ leaked from my television like toxic waste.
On a day in which lives were lost in London because of a hateful act, England fans thought it was appropriate to celebrate the loss of human life during one of history’s most horrific wars.
It wasn’t just a small minority of idiots either, they wouldn’t have been audible to television viewers, it was a large section of the travelling support, hollering with their arms outstretched, spilling beer on their topless mates.
Pride in the armed forces is one thing. Anyone who serves for their country deserves unlimited recognition and respect. But this wasn’t that.
This was crass mockery and nothing more.
“Have you ever seen Germany win a war?” was next on the setlist. Good one, lads.
Their interest in the football was non-existent. They couldn’t care less that Dele Alli and Adam Lallana were linking well in behind the German midfield.
How was Gareth Southgate’s new formation working out? They weren’t interested.
The horrific loss of human life over 70 years ago was the hot topic and only references to the IRA or drinking beer were going to be allowed a slice of airtime.
This isn’t what our grandfathers gave their lives for.
The fact that some still view Germany as genuine enemies in this world rather than allies and occasional football rivals displays a lack of awareness almost beyond comprehension.
It’s enough to question whether the term ‘fans’ is appropriate.
Then there’s the primary excuse, ‘it’s only banter’.
Forget the insensitivity, this may be the most embarrassing element of all.
Us English are famous for our wit, our distinctive brand of comedy. Not if travelling England fans have anything to say about it.
You would have thought at least one of them would have thought of something more topical since 1945. But no.
England fans sang constantly throughout the game, which would be superb if their content was in anyway relative or amusing.
In 90+ minutes there wasn’t one reference to football.
Compare that to the Germans’ appreciation of Lukas Podolski’s career and my embarrassment was doubled.
I went to the Euros, I watched Iceland knock us out in Nice and as I made my way back to the town centre I had visions of flying cafe chairs and drunken punches.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
On the bus away from the stadium a group of sunburnt England fans congratulated their Icelandic counterparts and were keen to learn the Icelandic chants.
They clapped their hands and belted out Gylfi Sigurdsson’s name with the same gusto they had for Jamie Vardy earlier in the day.
That night, while I was embarrassed by England’s performance on the pitch, I was incredibly proud of our fans’ showing off the pitch.
All that good work was undone on Wednesday night.
Now we start from square one. Again.
At Wembley on Sunday the crowd will be more reflective of England as a country and they’ll be no references to German bombers.
England play away to Scotland and France in June where once again the potential for embarrassment is high.
Let’s just hope the pleas from the England players and coaches to ‘behave appropriately’ are heard.
England have some of the best fans in the world, let’s not ruin that with neanderthal behaviour.
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