It’s a custom that has survived a change in generations, a change in method. The temper round most England video games, on international soil, is no longer one in every of full-fledged hooliganism. It’s, if something, extra akin to a very raucous bachelor occasion. There’s plenty of ingesting. There are medication: One favored chant, courting to a minimum of Euro 2016, is an ode to cocaine. There’s, extra typically than might be required at a sporting occasion, nudity.
It will take a brighter thoughts than mine to parse why that could be. Maybe it’s no thriller: possibly that’s simply how individuals, typically, minimize free. Maybe it’s how younger English males expertise international nations: It’s what you do whenever you see the Mediterranean solar. The issue there, in fact, is that these issues don’t happen with followers of Scotland or Wales or Northern Eire, regardless that they go on the identical types of holidays to the identical types of locations.
So, maybe, it’s one thing to do with England: not the nation, however the soccer crew. There are some who’re sufficiently old to have been in Marseille in 1998 and Charleroi in 2000, the ultimate throes of the previous hooliganism, and who may nonetheless yearn for a bit topless wander down a reminiscence lane that has a water cannon parked at one finish.
However there are a lot of extra who can have seen the movies and watched the footage and inferred that that is what it’s to be an England fan, that that is the way you earn your stripes and assist your nation, and have change into, in impact, cosplay hooligans. England is an opportunity to assert area and go a bit wild; that’s their function, their patriotic responsibility. That’s what it’s to be England.
The query, in hindsight, is an easy one: What, precisely, did the police assume was going to occur? Followers had been arriving on the Wembley Park underground station all day, gathering in ever higher numbers within the shadow of the stadium. A few of them — 60,000 or so — had tickets. Twice that quantity, 3 times probably, didn’t.