'England in the quarter-finals and Love Island on the telly? It's 2018 all over again' - YEP opinion
“England through to the quarter finals and Love Island’s back? It feels like summer 2018 all over again”.
I’m not surprised to see people posting that comparison, that year really was a great summer. The sun was out constantly as we watched, bewildered but overjoyed as England delivered us through to the World Cup semi-finals.
We’d flock to the pub, or in some cases, plonk on any available patch of grass, as we watched England rise through the ranks, coming together to celebrate, share a drink and some food. Then of course, we scurried home at nine o’clock to watch series four of the nation’s favourite guilty pleasure (and hands down, the best series yet, I wouldn’t be swayed on that opinion - ‘I’m loyal babes’).
I remember the Belgium group stage match really well. Every pub in Leeds city centre was rammed and I was so stressed we would miss the match. Eventually myself and friend Mel found ourselves on a little grass verge outside Toast’s big screen, with a crate of beer - and bizarrely, a portion of calamari from the nearby Italian. We ended up losing 1 - 0 that game, but it didn’t matter because everyone was buzzing and hopeful for the future. It’s one of my fondest memories.
All in all, it was a joyous time.
After the pretty dismal year and a half we’ve had, I can see why people are evoking that wonderful summer. 2020 in particular was a rotten year, with the Euros delayed and no Love Island (the winter series did not exist in my eyes). We’ve also had a few stop starts to ‘normality’, whatever that entails, which I think has collectively dampened all our spirits.
Of course, there has also been no fans in stadiums for the most part since the virus struck, which has been a huge blow in particular for Leeds United fans, following their promotion as champions.
But this has made it all the sweeter to watch the Euros this time around, seeing crowds belting out national anthems at the Stadio Olimpico or Wembley filled with St George flags. The delight on their faces is infectious.
Leeds has naturally turned out in spades to back the England squad. It is a bit different this year, with social distancing measures, but each fixture has seen pubs and bars fully booked with eager fans. North Brewing Co’s new venue, Springwell, has seen tables snapped up during match days, while walk-ins at Water Lane Boathouse have been very popular.
Let’s hope the good times continue ahead of England’s clash against Ukraine tonight, but whatever happens, Leeds will be right behind the Three Lions tonight.