While it might feel like tempting fate, England fans are beginning to dream of what might happen if the Three Lions actually manage to pull off the previously-unthinkable and win a major international football tournament.
That remains a big “if” at the moment, with Gareth Southgate’s men facing a tough Euro 2020 final clash with Italy after beating Denmark 2-1 at Wembley on Wednesday evening.
The Italians have played some fine football at this year’s Euros, beating former World Cup winners Spain in their semi on Tuesday and previously deployed every trick in the book to beat FIFA’s World No.1-ranked Belgium, running down the clock with improbable injury claims and operatic protests, frustrating their opponents at every turn and finally booking their passage with a 2-1 win.
But England have also been mighty impressive at times in this tournament, beating old rivals Germany 2-0 in the second round and running out 4-0 winners against Ukraine in the quarter-finals in Rome, looking both organised and uncharacteristically imperious.
Should it indeed come home, the celebrations across the nation would surely be wild. Remember the euphoric scenes of fans climbing onto bus stop roofs and scaling street lamps when we beat Sweden in the World Cup quarter-final three years ago?
They’ve already ascended the Shaftsbury memorial fountain in Piccadilly Circus and surfed on the wing mirrors of London buses this time out.
While the more hysterical are already pondering the prospect of ceremonial swords anointing the shoulders of Sir Harry Kane and Sir Raheem Sterling, a statue of Declan Rice OBE being hastily erected outside the London Stadium and babies named “Jordan” overcrowding maternity wards next April, a bank holiday is surely not out of the question?
Such an event would be announced by a Royal Proclamation from the Queen, according to the House of Commons Library, although the suggestion would have to come from prime minister Boris Johnson, who has raced to associate himself with the team’s success so far in this tournament, suggesting it could happen, although so far he has stopped short at urging businesses to give their hungover staff a day of compassionate leave.
“By convention the Queen acts on the advice of ministers. The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is the government department responsible for bank holidays,” Parliament’s website explains.
There was certainly a clamour for a bank holiday to be announced in honour of Southgate’s side during the Russia World Cup, when then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow home secretary Emily Thornberry called for one and 200,000 fans signed a petition demanding as much.
Even if one is not formally declared – Prince Philip’s death earlier this spring did not result in a day to officially mourn his passing, remember – it is possible that individual businesses might choose to give their employees a day off, as the PM suggests, as a morale-boosting, motivational gesture or a reward for their hard work and resilience during the coronavirus pandemic.
An open-top bus tour through the West End of London allowing the team to celebrate with the fans in the nation’s capital and present the trophy would ordinarily be the norm, but how advisable that would be with Covid-19 cases rising is highly questionable, given the large crowds such a spectacle would surely attract.
However, that was precisely how England celebrated winning the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and how our cricketers cheered regaining the Ashes in 2005, en route to an audience with Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace in both instances, so the call for it to happen again would be intense.
Even Sir Bobby Robson’s beaten semi-finalists from Italia 90 were thrown a ceremony in Luton upon their return, after all, an event attended by 300,000 supporters who lined the town centre’s streets to welcome back their fallen heroes.
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