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Can football really be upon us again? Yes, I know it always arrives, rude and sunburned, roaring into the summer and drowning the sounds of smaller but much harder balls being whacked across green fields. But the first weekend in August? It’s like being awoken by a cold sponge in the middle of a warm night.

Indeed, if I settle back and close my eyes, I am once more-a mere handful of weekends ago-on a sunlit M3 driving the family home after a pleasant stay in Hampshire. As we hurtle towards the Surrey borders, the journey becomes tense. This has…

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