On Sunday night Gareth Southgate led an England men’s national team at a major tournament final for the first time since Sir Alf Ramsey some 55 years ago.
This followed the victory over Denmark where the team won a competition semi-final, its first since 1966. This also saw Gareth match Sir Alf’s record of winning eight games at major tournaments, the joint most out of all the team’s managers.
We have now seen England progress further in a tournament since that famous World Cup win more than half a century ago.
Integral to this achievement has been the England manager, Gareth Southgate. One of Crawley’s favourite sons, Gareth attended Pound Hill Junior and Hazelwick Schools, and has previously spoken in the national press about the teachers who were instrumental in him taking up the sport.
As a community it is time for us to have a discussion about how best to commemorate Gareth’s leadership of our national team, with talk of a statue to mark his work. With a new Crawley Town Hall due to open in the near future, one idea could be to name this building after the man who has taken the national team further than many of us have seen in our lifetimes.
By the time the European qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup resume in September, matches will hopefully take place in circumstances where international travel has reopened in a way which means away fans can attend games over here and abroad.
Quarantine-free travel will resume from 19th July for fully vaccinated passengers returning from amber list countries. Vaccinations have severely weakened the link between Covid-19 cases, hospitalisations, and deaths. The long-term protection offered by these vaccines can ease restrictions on travel as well as restrictions at home.
From 19th July, people who have been fully vaccinated with an NHS-administered vaccine will be able to travel from amber list countries to England without having to quarantine; all they will need to do is complete a pre-departure test before arrival, in addition to a PCR test on or before day two after arrival. It has also been confirmed that children under the age of 18 who have not been vaccinated will also not have to isolate.
I urged the Transport Secretary in the Commons to, at the earliest possible opportunity, expand the number of countries on the green list to which international travel is possible, of vital importance to the Crawley and Gatwick economy.
Such progress is only possible thanks to the success of the UK’s vaccination programme.
Let us hope that England’s upcoming matches, both at home and abroad, will welcome away fans so that as many people as possible can see Gareth Southgate’s England in action.
Henry Smith MP