Spectacularly warm, blue-sky weather? England into the World Cup Semi Finals? Are we dreaming?
Thus was the speculative mood amongst the UK’s publicans over the last few weeks, as people across the land flocked to their nearest beer garden to enjoy just about the only positivity we’ve had recently – in politically tumultuous times that have brought us the resignation of half the bloody Government, more Salisbury poisonings and a flying visit from a big, orange baby.
Even the usually austere and pessimistic Bank of England has got behind the boys out in Russia, with Governor Mark Carney stating that the England team’s continued performance would be ‘unadulterated, unalloyed good.’
Over 35 million pints were necked as England eased to victory against Sweden 2-0 on Saturday the 7th. People got tattoos or jumped off bus roofs and, regrettably, stomped on ambulances in celebration. It’s coming home became a meme. Skinner, Baddiel and The Lightning Seeds hit Number 1 in the charts once again. Waistcoat sales soared despite the 30-degree heat, as the land itself seemed to sweat in expectation.
That exultant victory put Gareth Southgate’s youthful lads into a semi-final showdown with Croatia, on Wednesday the 11th. Pub landlords and industry insiders were equally confident that it wouldn’t just be football coming home – but big sales figures too.
With the taxman already celebrating a five-million-pound windfall from beer duty after the Colombia game – in which we broke our longstanding World Cup penalty curse – anything, it seemed, is possible.
Or at least pub chain Young’s must be thinking so, as they smashed their Saturday and Tuesday trading records during the last two games. With all England’s ties so far being weekend day or evening kick offs, the majority of fans have been free of work and up for a few drinks during the matches. With the final on a Sunday too, bars and pubs the width and breadth of England might open up on an otherwise closed day – giving an extra sixteen hours of rip-roaring trading for downturn beleaguered publicans.
Especially should England win against Croatia and then, dare we say, it beat the French in the final too.
No matter what you think of his usual politics, even the divisive old socialist jam-maker Jeremy Corbyn has promised to campaign for an extra Bank Holiday should England win the World Cup.
An extra day off? In Summer? In honour of football?
Surely anyone, from 22-year old tech-start-up workers in London to frothing ‘Free Tommy’ chanting 40-year olds from Rotherham, can get behind that bit of patriotic kindness.
We certainly know pubs and breweries will. With records being broken already, and with many bars and pubs only having budgeted for three or four England games, 2018 might just also be remembered as a golden year for the British beer industry.
Now all that’s left is for Harry Kane, Pickford, Maguire and co to bring that trophy home.
Of which of course, we are in no doubt. Jules Rimet still gleaming, 50 years of hurt etc. etc. Time for a pint!