AND so it goes on. England’s marvellous, joyous adventure at the 2018 World Cup continues for another week.

In sweeping aside Sweden so comprehensively on Saturday afternoon, England provided the type of performance which is practically unprecedented in tournament knockout football in recent years – calm, assured and victorious. A thoroughly un-England like way to secure a first World Cup semi final for 28 years.

Perhaps the side has been taking tips from England’s women, who, with a core of North-East players at the heart of the team, finished in third place in the 2015 World Cup in Canada.

There will always be those who argue that football is just a game, that the players are overpaid prima donnas, that there are much more important things to be thinking about in 21st Century England than 22 people kicking around a bag of wind.

Yes, it is just a game, but one that has the power to unite and inspire. Yes, the male players are ridiculously well rewarded for their talents, but this group are the most down to earth, likeable squad for a generation. And yes, there are obviously more crucial matters at hand than the outcome of a sports tournament, but we can’t spend every last minute weighing up the pros and cons of Theresa May’s Brexit proposals, or who is next in line for a hosepipe ban.

The World Cup run has provided a happy distraction for millions. Imagine what will happen, if (whisper it quietly) football actually does make it way home. Bring on Croatia!