The hype is here now, and there's no less than 36 England flags on my modest cul-de-sac street of perhaps ten houses. But to be honest I'm going to take a sabbatical from that sweaty mixture of high anticipation and lager-fuelled collywobbles. To pacing the floor between each tie, wondering if the hapless defence will grow some balls this time, or the manager make an actual, real-life, fer-god's-sakes telling substitution for once.
But, more likely, come the time, I'll get sucked into the media hype when, after the inevitable opening 0-0 draw against eleven well-organised part-timers from Sawkerland, our team of squeaky-bummed chancers manage to beat one of those shruggy, ball-stroking former French colonists with a last-minute, scrambled toe-poke by our apoplectic heifer, ripped to the freckled tits on Tizer and Nytol. Cue exotic celebration, giving unique insight into their preparation for the tie as eleven overpaid wankers simulate guzzling Sambuca in a lap-dancing bar.
Then more nail-biting while they speculate about the bloody weather of all things affecting our chances of progression. Adrian Chiles: "It is very, VERY, hot down here. Our boys will certainly need to take on a lot of water if they are to survive this very, very hot heat."
So, here we are, somehow running around the equator in woollen romper suits, while those savvy continentals have damp cloths and factor infinity. I bet they've even marked the pitch with sunblock. Phew what a scorcher. Unfair, really, what with everyone else being so acclimatised and never having to play in cold weather or rain like what we do. Fuck off Scandinavia, you don't count.
Thinking about it we are the fat, asthmatic kid of football. The one who either vomits a pile of undigested marshmallow twists (flumps, aren't they called?) on the sidelines after two charges down the wing or has to go home with a headache because he forgot to take his jumper off and bring a damp cloth to suck on.