It’s Coming Home (Probably) by John McNicoll – Review

It’s Coming Home (Probably) by John McNicoll – Review (1)

By Karl Hornsey

With the European Championship just around the corner, and England regarded as favourites to win the trophy for the first-ever time, there are a slew of books about the history of the tournament and, in this case, about a whole host of heroic and not-so-heroic failures by the English national team in World Cups and Euros since 1990.

In this instance, it’s the turn of John McNicoll, writing his third football book, to produce this incredibly personal account of the joy and heartache he has suffered supporting England, working chronologically through each tournament and using the rollercoaster ride of Italia ’90 as his starting point. McNicoll brings to life each tournament, or the qualifiers when England have been so bad that they’ve managed to miss out altogether, from that point on, going into great detail about where he was, who he was with and his own thoughts on the squads assembled and the managers leading them.

“Memorable moments”

It’s Coming Home (Probably) by John McNicoll – Review (2)This is the book’s greatest strength, as we can all put ourselves in the author’s shoes, and immediately be taken back to where we were when Gazza set alight his first, and it transpired only, World Cup, or when David Beckham became a figure of hate across the country for his dismissal in 1998 against Argentina, among many other memorable moments. Any England fan, be it the most casual observer or the hardcore faithful, can empathise with how McNicoll was feeling, and how the various failings affected us at the time – from the initial heartbreak of our first taste of England letting us down, to the more mellowed approach as the years wisen us, and we can treat triumph and disaster in much the same light.

The author lists the squads selected for each tournament, which in itself proves quite fascinating as you peruse them, wondering in turn quite how some star-studded squads still managed to make a pig’s ear of things, or how some players were ever lucky enough to grace the world’s greatest stage. Some matches or moments that I’d long forgotten suddenly came back to life thanks to McNicoll’s own memories, and that makes this a very enjoyable read. There’s a point where the failures just start going over one’s head, meaning just that bit less with each passing tournament, but then, as with all supporters of teams in any sport, it’s the hope that kills you. And there’s plenty to suggest that McNicoll, and anyone who follows the England national team, could just be celebrating something big this summer – which would finally mean that ‘it’ is indeed coming home. At last.

‘It’s Coming Home (Probably)’ by John McNicoll is published by Pitch Publishing


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