‘My daughter runs around the garden when England needs a goal’: The superstitions and rituals of football mega fans

·4-min read
Do you have an irrational belief associated with an England team victory? (The FA via Getty Images)
Do you have an irrational belief associated with an England team victory? (The FA via Getty Images)

England fans across the country and beyond are dreaming of victory after Gareth Southgate’s team defeated Denmark in a nail-biting quarter-final on Wednesday evening.

After years of heartache, the team will play Italy in Sunday’s final – their first appearance in the final of a major tournament since 1966 – placing them in pole position to replicate their legendary World Cup victory.With many heads still sore from Wednesday’s jubilant result, England fans – both fairweather and fervent – are looking ahead to Sunday’s big game by stocking up on beer and scrabbling for the few remaining pub tables to watch the final clash on the big screen. But many aren’t putting their hopes in blind faith alone.The Independent spoke with supporters who are convinced that a particular ritual or superstition is directly linked to victory for our national squad.

“I like to throw stones at my Grandad’s window whilst chanting ‘It’s coming home’”

Tom, 26, Manchester

I like to throw stones at my Grandad’s windows whilst chanting “It’s coming home”. It’s worked so far, although I didn’t do it for the Scotland game, so I’ll be back over there again on Sunday.

The stones aren’t too big – just little pebbles off his garden path. He laughs and does obscene gestures at me through the windows and then we part ways. It all came about during the group stages and carried on from there.

“I wear my dead brother’s old England shirt”

Jen, 38, London

I have a vintage Italia 1990s England shirt which belonged to my then 10-year-old brother, who is sadly no longer with us. Obviously, it’s a sad story, but testament to how tight my parents were that they bought a 10-year-old a T-shirt big enough to fit a 38-year-old woman.

The 1990 World Cup was the first big football tournament I can remember, partly because he [my brother] also had the England shell suit, which was a huge deal.

“If there’s a asymmetrical number on the match clock, my team will win”

Jordan, 36, Belfast

‘I believe that if I happen to look at the match clock and it's a symmetrical number, e.g. 12:21, 84:48, then my team will win. If I witness the time change to an asymmetrical number, for example, 84:47, then my team will lose. This scientifically unproven rule applies for numbers in other sequences, such as 01:23, 12:34.

I’m not exactly sure when this obsession started, but we’re probably going back about 20 years. It started around the time Manchester United were struggling to get back on top of the Premier League when Chelsea had the better of us. I must have been doing a lot of clock watching for those matches and started associating positive events in the game with the coincidental symmetry in the match clock!

“We make my daughter run around the garden”

Elaine, 63, York

This started in 1996 when my daughter, Laura, was 14. She was an avid Manchester United fan at the time and we were watching an important game and she was getting so anxious about their need to score that she announced, “I can’t cope with this – I’m going for a run round the garden”. When she was halfway to the bottom, guess what – Man United scored. So, it became a thing from then on. Whenever we were watching a game where we needed to score, we would send Laura off to run around the garden.

If it’s tense on Sunday, we’ll be calling on her to do a few circuits in the hope of a goal. I’ve never seen England play the way they have recently – and I remember 1966 with my uncle dancing round the kitchen because he was so euphoric.

“I curl up into a ball”

Thom, 32, London

Before a big game, I tend to curl up into a ball and agonise about what’s going to happen. But the main thing I make a habit of doing is giving my dad a call. A love of football is one of the closest things we have in common. He brought me up being a Birmingham City fan, so I’m quite used to disappointment.

My dad’s quite poorly at the moment, so I’d like to be with him, but that’s a bit difficult right now, so I’ll call him before and after the match. I’m the eternal pessimist, while he’s the optimist that football’s definitely coming home.

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