THIS WEEK WESTHAM COMMUNITY NEWS: Our beloved village pond

COMMUNITY Langney Community Library: Grand Opening

BUSINESS Media Release: Art Gallery for the Bay


If we brought joy to the people back home, and I know that we have, then it has been worthwhile
—Gareth Southgate, 11 July 2018

— Barney Ronay at the Luzhniki Stadium, 11 July 2018
Watching this England team – and yes, it is of course just a football team – has seemed to provide a different kind of script. A young, unheralded bunch of players have gone further than those before who were more obviously talented, more golden, more authentic, finding ways to succeed through teamwork and energy and a refusal to be cowed.

It is hopeful to see this, to look at Alli or Harry Maguire or Jordan Pickford and say, well, people told them that they probably couldn’t do it either.

Football isn’t real life. It is a separate world packed with hammy emotions and big fat wet notes of drama, always straining to mean a great deal more than it does. But it can provide a little inspiration along the way, another kind of story. England in a semi-final, with a likable team led by the great Gareth, has been exactly this. No tears this time. There is St Petersburg on Saturday to follow. But they are, finally, coming home.

—Gareth Southgate, England Manager, Luzhniki Stadium, 11 July 2018
“I’m conscious we’ve just lost a massive, massive game and I don’t want to be seen to be moving on too quickly. We shouldn’t overlook the opportunity we had and, at the moment, we all feel the pain of the defeat. Did we feel we would be in this position? Realistically, I don’t think any of us did. Go back 18 months and no one would have expected us to be in a semi-final of the World Cup.

“But once here, we thought we could really win the game. We had an opportunity to do what only one team from our nation has ever done and get to a final. We’re still one of only three teams to get to a semi-final and the players and staff have to be proud of that, but when you get to this point and play as well as we did in the first half, you want to take those opportunities in life. At the moment we all feel the pain of the defeat. The dressing room is a very difficult place at the moment.

“But I’m remarkably proud of a group of players who have really advanced, and no one could have given any more. The way they’ve represented their country has been exemplary. They have to go through big-match experiences to become a team that can win. If you look at every other nation who has had success, they’ve got to semi-finals and not got across the line first time. They have to use the experience for their own benefit: not just tonight’s, but all the experiences over the last few weeks that will and have made them a stronger team.”