The two weeks of pain, anguish and that oh so familiar feeling of disappointment and ultimate let down is about to start once again. Every four years we patriotic English fans in the MotoGP™ paddock community prepare for the worst. We start with so much hope and optimism which is slowly drained from every bone in your body before the final humiliation, much to the delight of the other nationalities. Yes, the football World Cup in Russia is about to start.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve stumbled out of the IRTA paddock office late at night after witnessing yet another England defeat. The misery shared by many others amid the empty beer cans and pizza boxes. An evening which would have started with so much excitement and laughter ended with more than a choice few words and then total silence as we walked through the dark deserted MotoGP™ paddock.
This is not a new experience. Even I was not in the MotoGP™ paddock when England won the World Cup in 1966, but I was there 24 years later when they came very close, although my choice of venue and fellow television viewers wasn't perfect. A small hotel deep in the Ardennes forest on the boarder of Belgium and Germany would not have been my preferred venue for a World Cup semi-final clash in Italy between England and Germany. I never realised that the Spa Francorchamps circuit - which was hosting the Belgium Grand Prix that weekend - was so close to the German border. I was the lone English voice amongst the German fans still smarting from that final defeat 24 long years earlier. It was a truly epic encounter that went to a penalty shoot-out. Enough said, because we all know how England always fare in dreaded penalty shoot-outs, especially against Germany.
I remember the qualifying Press Conference for the 2006 British Grand Prix at Donington Park. The World Cup game between England and Portugal in Germany was taking place at the same time. Distracted from announcing the Tissot watch winners would be a fair assessment of my state of mind at the time. While the photographs of the pole setters were being conducted, I received a note from the Italian journalists telling me with great delight that England’s star player Wayne Rooney had been sent off. I rushed to the IRTA office when the conference had finished without too many questions from the floor being offered to the journalists. I arrived in time for the penalty shoot–out and there’s no need to say anymore.
I’ve also jealously watched a nation celebrate success in a major football tournament. The night of the 1988 Dutch TT in Assen, Holland beat Russia in the final of the European Championship in Germany and how they celebrated. I was in Amsterdam which went even crazier than normal, while Schiphol airport the next morning was a sea of orange and tulips to welcome the victorious team back home.
Ironically, I watched the last World Cup final with the only Argentinian in Germany. The final between Germany and Argentina was being played in Brazil and we were at Leipzig airport preparing to fly home after the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring. I sat with Diego, the Dorna photographer, watching his side lose as the Germans celebrated all around. It was a feeling I knew so well although as I told Diego, at least Argentina had reached the final. The last time England did that was in 1966.
So, here we go again.