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There'll Always Be An England



Those who know me well know that I like my football. I’m a lifelong Manchester City fan, so have seen both the good times and the bad times in supporting the blue half of Manchester – just like my Dad. This time last year, I was fortunate enough to be in Istanbul to see City lift the Champions League trophy. For my sins, I also love watching England, going to watch them at Wembley when I get the chance. So, of course, I’ve been avidly watching their group games – and as frustrated as the rest of the country at just how poor they have been.


With every weekend being booked up for me during the duration of the Euros, I always knew there would be a clash somewhere down the line – and today was it. Having been performing in West Sussex yesterday evening, then hotfooted back to the West Midlands to our hotel, it was off to Bridgnorth for the first day of Severn Valley Railway’s 1940s Weekend. Arriving in my designated spot, which I would be sharing with The Ronnies, I saw that my last set of the day was chalked up on the board as 4.35pm – just twenty-five minutes before England kicked off against Slovakia. In previous years, when I have been performing at the same time as England having been playing in a major tournament, I have set the game to record at home, and we have travelled back in radio silence and studiously avoided looked at anyone wearing England colours on the way home in case their demeanour gave away the outcome.


Today, we had already researched which pubs in Bridgnorth would be showing the match. Happily, opposite the station car park was a pub, The George, and early reconnaissance established that they would indeed be showing the match later. First, though, a busy and well-attended day at Bridgnorth, steam trains arriving and departing on a regular basis, each one bringing in new visitors. I was able to accomodate several requests for particular songs and all without repeating a single number all day long. I had dancers too, which is always a welcome accompaniment to any performance.


So having enjoyed a good day at the station and still plenty of visitors milling about, suddenly it was 4.35pm and I was starting my fourth and final set of the day. Only one way to start, naturally – what else but There’ll Always Be An England! Twenty minutes later, having thanked my fellow performers and the staff at Bridgnorth, I was making my way down the hill to The George. Expecting to find it crowded, instead I was the only customer in there, so ordered a drink and claimed the table right in front of the television. Twenty-five minutes later, Dave arrived, having set-down the equipment and loaded it securely in the car as quickly as he could, with the match commentary playing on the radio. Just seconds earlier, Slovakia had taken the lead and his pained expression when he glanced up at the television spoke volumes. But all’s well that ends well – and goals from Bellingham in the dying seconds, and Kane in the first minute of extra-time secured a barely deserved victory for England and a quarter-final date with Switzerland… a 5.00pm kick-off yet again, when I will once more be at Severn Valley Railway. Same again, then, it looks like!



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