IKNEW that it was going to be a great night when my pal Giles - a northerner despite his name - turned up on our doorstep wearing yellow facepaint and a mustard coloured taffeta lampshade on his head. I had to explain to Fi who he was imitating - Carlos Valderrama, my dear - which then put her into a strop.
This became even worse when she saw the Romanians in their blond rinses because she had had one done for the party and thought she was being original. Being upstaged by a bunch of Carpathian peasants - not to mention being beaten by them last week - really had her stomping around the room even before I put "Vindaloo" on the stereo.
I'd decided to have a classic English theme for the food for the night, no messing around with tacos or other South American stuff. This was a time to get right behind our boys. So I'd ordered a huge buffet from "Curry In A Hurry", the moped delivery Indian on Holloway Road. I know Sunil the chef, and asked him to choose the five most popular dishes as ordered on a typical Friday at around 11.15pm. Delivery was timed for 8.45 on the dot, half-time.
To go with this I'd been to Threshers and bought six packs of good old- fashioned English beers - Devon Dog's Breath, Postman's Sock Ale - that sort of stuff. I had told everyone who was coming to dress up as a current World Cup player. There were a few more kilts than I would have liked and I deducted marks from these people because the Scotland team hadn't actually played in them despite appearances to the contrary.
Peter, my agent, came in a German shirt and a blond wig and kept falling over on the floor. I thought at first that he was having a heart attack - he's well overdue one - but when I bent down to give him the kiss of life he shouted "I'm Klinsmann, you stupid bastard!"
By now Fiona had regrouped and had transformed herself into David Beckham, with a silk sarong and, she told me furtively, Black Gossard knickers. I was quite turned on by this but Des had just opened on the BBC so it was time to take our seats in front of the Toshiba, a can in each hand. When the England team line-up was shown everyone cheered the fact that Owen was in at last, apart from Fi's assistant Xantia who was miffed because she'd come as Teddy Sheringham (cigarette in mouth, zimmer frame Hello magazine under arm).
And then we were off! I faded down "Three lions" - the 1996 mix I'll have you know - and switched the sound to pro-logic for the commentary at maximum volume. That was The Full Motty all right! I don't know how our lads were feeling but I was sinking a can every two minutes because of the tension. I didn't like the way the Colombians got hold of the ball for long periods. but then - wham! Darren slammed in his shot and the room erupted bringing down one of our Georgian plaster ceiling roses. It was a fake anyway.
I felt a touch of shame at the goal because I'd spent most of last season at Spurs barracking Anderton for his one-man injury crisis. I even tried to put him up for an ad campaign I was writing for Bupa but his agent was having none of it. So, Dazza, deep apologies and in future it's a case of 'nuff respect!
There was a great atmosphere now, chanting, hand clapping, "England!" It was as though we were playing our little part in urging the boys on right here in Highbury Fields.
And then Fiona sidles up to me and nibbles my ear. "Time to score, big boy," she whispered. Well not in front of a dozen other people I told her. "Now!" she urged taking my hand. Her ovulation monitor had started bleeping or whatever it's supposed to do and she was primed for motherhood.
But right at that moment Ince had been pulled down just outside the box. It was a tough choice, but I had to put my future child before my country. We slipped into the kitchen and did the business. I'd like to think that I was passionate, tender and loving, all of these things, and I still had time to get back to see Beckham - the real one - curl his shot over the Colombian wall.
We started a conga around the room, bringing down more ceiling plaster. So it was quite a scene when Sunil turned up right on time on his moped with 40 foil trays. I laid them out on the table and opened them up. And there they were, eight portions each of mushroom omelette, chips, fried onions, fried chicken, fried mushrooms and more bleeding chips.
What the English order on Holloway Road on a Friday night. Not a curry in sight. I retreated to the kitchen in humiliation, ashamed of my country's diet. So Giles got a rocket when he came in asking for, you know, some of Colombia's finest product. I tossed him the coffee jar and told him to piss off and make it himself.
Next week: Coping with a Sunday without football.Reuse content