The fan - Hunter Davies opens his Mateus Rose too early

I open some Mateus Rose at half-time and spot the vicar in an England shirt

Something strange happened during the England-France game. Well, a lot did, but I mean here, while sitting in my little TV room in Loweswater. It's my Lakeland library, so I have loads of books around, should any of the 31 games get boring. There's also a little shower and lavatory, so I can have a pee and still watch the footer, which I'm not supposed to do. Jolly handy.

There's another room running off it, which we call the washroom, containing boots, raincoats, deep freeze and washing machine. That's not so handy. I don't know how many times I've told her, but she will walk through my TV room to get stuff out of the freezer, or put on the washing machine, which roars to a climax, shaking the whole house just at a vital moment.

There is a brilliant view from the window, which is behind the TV, but then all our windows have brilliant views of lush fields, wild fells and, behind them, three lakes, three pearls on a string.

I was waiting for the England-France game, checking my vital supplies. I have every free Euro 2004 wallchart published so far, four weeks' supply of crisps, peanuts, and an ironic bottle of Mateus Rose for kick-off. Post-ironic, actually.

Mateus Rose was a joke drink when I was a lad writing the Atticus column on the Sunday Times. That was where Mateus Rose was first mentioned in print by one of my predecessors, Sir Sacheverell Sitwell, so he always claimed, saying he was responsible for introducing it to Britain. He was upset he never got a free supply for life.

While looking out of the window, I chanced to see someone walking. They were wearing what looked from the back like a white England shirt. With the walker was a dog. It's Henry, I shouted, jumping up. No, not Thierry Henry. Henry the black Labrador who writes a column in our parish magazine. It must therefore be the vicar - wearing an England shirt. Who says the Church of England is fuddy-duddy. Inger-land, Inger-land.

So I was in a really good mood at kick-off. As were England. Wayne Rooney was remarkable, Ledley King was deadly, Paul Scholes smelled of goals, the whole team was playing good, except Becks, who looked a bit peripheral, a spare tattoo at a biker wedding. They were passing ever so well. Sven's decisions seemed to have paid off. When they got one up, I thought that's it, we'll win now, not just this match, but the European final, the 2006 World Cup final, the play-off against Mars, the whole damn shooting match. Inger-land, Inger-land.

I opened the rose at half-time, which I wasn't going to do until after they'd won. But what the hell, after all those friendly matches where England had been shite and I had been furious with them, now, fair dos, they were showing that they really did have some world-class players, in fact a world-class team, probably win the 2010 World Cup as well. Inger-land.

Now, should I buy some flags for my Jaguar, and a shirt? That was my first thought. Then I thought, could I have imagined it was the vicar, wearing that England shirt? I'd seen it only from behind. It might well just have been plain white.

So I rang the vicarage and spoke to her. Didn't I mention that our vicar is a woman? The Rev Margaret. She was appointed last year and I don't know her very well yet, though we are both on the paper round, taking turns to deliver the daily newspapers in our valley. "Er, was that an England shirt I saw you wearing or did my eyes deceive me?"

"It certainly was," she said. And not ironically either. She is a keen fan, follows Newcastle United and England. She played hockey as a girl, then she was a physiotherapist, so a sporty type. I asked if she had flags on her car as well. "No, I think that would be too much and might scandalise the valley."

So what did she predict, not the Next Life and all that, but the footer? "Oh, France are so strong, if they beat England, they could go all the way."

It looks as if she will be right. I went to bed so choked, so depressed after England caved in, but I awoke with a smile, thinking about the vicar in her England shirt.

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