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‘It’s been a long and heartbreaking journey to Wembley final – we’ve earned it’

It has certainly been a long journey from 1966 until now.

My mum assured me last night that – as a two year old – I watched England win the World Cup on a black and white TV at our home where she still lives in Hatfield Heath, Essex.

I have no memories of the game but I can recall some of the 1970 tournament – especially excitedly collecting silver commemorative coins from Esso petrol stations with the players heads on!

But my most vivid memory as a child was the shattering draw against Poland in 1973.

Jan Tomaszewski broke my heart and knocked England out of the World Cup.

England striker Allan Clarke appeals for a corner during a World Cup qualifying match against Poland at Wembley, London, 17th October 1973

Wembley Stadium, 17th October, 1973, England 1 v Poland 1, Poland's goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski makes a save to deny England a goal during their vital World Cup qualifier
Wembley Stadium, 17th October, 1973, England 1 v Poland 1, Poland’s goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski makes a save to deny England a goal during their vital World Cup qualifier

Brian Clough famously called the Polish keeper “a clown” but his performance was one of the greatest I’ve ever seen.

In 1979 we went to Wembley to watch Glenn Hoddle’s debut.

But the fog came down and we had to go home and then come back the following night to see his sensational first goal.

I went to almost every home England game at Wembley between 1979 and 1983 including a 9-0 win over Luxembourg, with a Luther Blisset hat-trick, and a dismal 1-0 defeat to Scotland.

England player Bryan Robson scores against goalkeeper Jean-Luc Ettori to put England ahead after just 27 seconds in the opening 1982 FIFA World Cup Group 4 match against France on June 16, 1982
England player Bryan Robson scores against goalkeeper Jean-Luc Ettori to put England ahead after just 27 seconds in the opening 1982 FIFA World Cup Group 4 match against France on June 16, 1982

'It's been a long and heartbreaking journey to Wembley final - we've earned it'
Andy Lines in the England kit in 2006

In 1982 we all felt part of “Ron’s 22”. A glorious tournament which started with Bryan Robson’s early goal after 27 seconds against France.

Me, my brother and our mates leapt up from the sofa so jubilantly it sprang back and damaged the wall in our house. I covered it up and my mum and dad didn’t find out until years later!

In 1986 I was in a snooker hall in Reading – with a friend Chris Eary who still works at the Mirror to this day – to watch the agonising Diego Maradona Hand of God goal.

'It's been a long and heartbreaking journey to Wembley final - we've earned it'
Andy Lines before Spain Euro 96

Bryan Robson is lifted off the ground by team-mate Terry Butcher after scoring within the first 30 seconds of the England v France World Cup match in Bilbao, Spain on the June 16, 1982
Bryan Robson is lifted off the ground by team-mate Terry Butcher (4) after scoring within the first 30 seconds of the England v France World Cup match in Bilbao, Spain on the June 16, 1982

In May 1990 I got married and somehow managed to persuade my wife to go on honeymoon to … Italia 90.

We couldn’t get a hotel in Turin after one match so we slept in the car outside the stadium woken by laughing dustmen at 5am.

1996 was the glorious summer of “Football’s Coming Home”. Scotland, Holland, Spain and then for
the semi-final against Germany I wore a heart monitor for a feature for the Daily Mirror on the night I watched Gareth Southgate miss his infamous penalty.

A tearful Paul Gascoigne is consoled by team mate Terry Butcher after a Semi-Final match between West Germany and England on July 4, 1990 in Turin, Italy
A tearful Paul Gascoigne is consoled by team mate Terry Butcher after a Semi-Final match between West Germany and England on July 4, 1990 in Turin, Italy

'It's been a long and heartbreaking journey to Wembley final - we've earned it'
Andy Lines in Wembley for England’s Round of 16 match vs Germany

For Japan 2002 I didn’t have to work so I went as a fan for a memorable ten days in Tokyo.

Then I was lucky enough to be sent by the Daily Mirror to a sensational series of tournaments Germany 2006, Brazil, 2014, France 2016 and Russia 2018.

Some great moments at all of them (forgetting the Iceland debacle).

Harry Kane of England celebrates after scoring their side's second goal from the penalty during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship on July 7
Harry Kane of England celebrates after scoring their side’s second goal from the penalty during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship on July 7

England captain Bobby Moore holds aloft the Jules Rimet World Cup trophy as he sits on the shoulders of his teammates in the World Cup Final, 1966, Wembley.
England captain Bobby Moore holds aloft the Jules Rimet World Cup trophy as he sits on the shoulders of his teammates in the World Cup Final, 1966, Wembley.

Even though we reached the semi-final in Russia it never really felt like we could win it.

Now here we are in a final for the first time since 1966.

My England journey from a toddler to a 56-year-old football fanatic has been a long one.

I might not have any memories of the ’66 final but whatever happens tonight I know I will never forget this one.


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