After England’s magical World Cup run came to an end yesterday, a flood of “it’s coming home” jokes finally turned against them.
Speaking after their 2-1 semi-final win, Croatia’s own players told media they had used the constant crowing of English fans as motivation.
Dejan Lovren and Luka Modric were joined by coach Zlatko Dalic in saying their side had “extra motivation”.
“Maybe the English team should have respected us more, especially when you consider where our players play their football, but this is football and sport,” Dalic says.
The 1996 anthem “Three Lions” has become a rallying cry for England, especially the “it’s coming home” lyric, yet in today’s episode of Squeaky Bum Time, RNZ’s FIFA World Cup podcast, Towle says it’s a little misunderstood.
“Very few of us were singing ‘football’s coming home’ because we genuinely believed we would win the World Cup … we were singing the song because this has been a rare moment in England’s history when it’s been fun to support the team,” he says.
“You don’t sing when you’ve won, you sing when you’re winning.”
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Donovan also believes there is an irony in the chant that relates to the country’s attitude to football.
“There is an undercurrent of tragedy that runs through English football - this narrative of constant unfulfilled potential and expectations and shattered dreams,” he says.
However, Macintosh says there is an element of truth in Croatia’s attitude. He says, while the actual football team didn’t seem to get carried away with its own hype, the English media did.
“I don’t think we saw any signs of arrogance in the English camp … but as for the rest of us? Guilty as charged. It was fun. People were excited,” he says.
“I think the ‘it’s coming home’ thing was like whispering something that you’re not allowed to whisper - like having a cheeky, naughty bit of hope for once.”
Macintosh says 2004 felt like the last time England was optimistic and fully backed its national team.
He believes this side has shown it has the makings of being a successful tournament team, and will learn the lessons of 2018.
Also in the episode, the panel look ahead to Monday’s final, and asks whether Croatia has a chance of beating the overwhelming favourites, France.