Southgate’s boys really did unite England this summer but….

By Nigel Bidmead

It’s the morning after.

And the comment I’ve just heard really pisses me off.

I’m walking down the second fairway with one of my opponents.

My partner is a former policeman and Sunderland fan and we are playing a lorry driver and a Scottish publican.

We’ve played them before and there has been a bit of needle, so in the spirit of New England I strike up a conversation with the trucker and asked him what he thought of the game.

“Not really interested in football and 90% are not English.”

I know what he means and I am not surprised. Headbanging racist gammons are hardly unknown in golf or among the members of our club.

It is, though, shocking. Shocking that otherwise respectable, honest and capable people feel this way and are so blasé about saying it.

The Scotsman is a Rangers fan, an ex-German copper who runs a no-nonsense boozer in a tough part of town. He’s a very good golfer and sometimes goes to Tottenham .

His assessment is gruff. “Men against boys.”

He’s right, of course, and we both think France will win on Sunday. He also mentions how Gareth Southgate reminds him of Jurgen Klinsmann.

Let’s hope so because Klinsmann’s intelligent, inclusive and articulate management and coaching kickstarted Germany in the mid noughties.

Once Southgate has had time to reflect on the events of the last few weeks he will feel English football is in a good place and heading to a better one.

Behind the national team are players with experience of international success at U17, U19 and U20 level coming through and, at last, the Premier League and their television overlords have agreed to a winter break.

Watching our hard working, focused and disciplined footballers playing it cool in the heat of a Russian summer while self-serving, vain and incompetent politicians boiled in a vat of Brexit bile was fun and, for a while, they achieved the impossible and united the country.

Or so I thought.