Football is a game that raises one's expectations to silly heights and, usually, ends in despair for practically all involved... players and supporters alike.
But normally most kiddies are in the game for fun. I can remember playing in the Under Eights division for Saints United (a combination of Spiritus Sanctus and St. Charles primary schools in Sydney) and even though I don't think we won a single game all season I still had a great time.
The point for me in those days was that football (we called it soccer then) was just about kicking a ball about. Although there probably was a league and points being scored I can't remember anyone ever pointing out that we were most probably at the bottom of it. For me, the game was fun. Nothing else.
And so it was with true sorrow that I have learnt the sad story of Louis Moffet (6) whose experience of football is certainly not like my youthful innocent bliss but more like the grown-up reality of a dedicated supporter of Ankaragucu and Genclerbirligi... i.e. start off each season full of hope only to be denied yet again. In Gencler's case in the very last game of the season.
Young Master Moffet of Kibblesworth, Gateshead, England, entered one of those competitions that the sponsors of football, in this case McDonalds, use to promote obesity in children... sorry... interest in healthy sporting activities, and was obviously overjoyed when he found out he had beaten 50,000 other children to become one of those kiddies who holds onto the England captain's hand and would lead his heroes onto the pitch during one of the World Cup group games.
Things were definately looking good for young Master Moffet when he was told, in person, by none other than 1966 hat trick scorer Geoff Hurst that it would be an experience he would never forget.
Then, as if the child was told all at once that not only does Santa Claus not exist, that the Easter Bunny is actually lunch and that by the time he retires the weekly state pension will probably only go as far as a couple of packets of crisps, McDonalds cruelly destroyed Master Moffet's life.
Instead of leading Beckham and company out, he will instead be holding onto the hand of the captain of Germany.
"I would have liked an England game because I don't know any of the German players," said the poor little bugger, quoted here in the Northern Echo.
"I have been telling everyone I would be mascot for England. I had been looking forward to meeting the team."
I'm not sure if everyone reading this blog understands the true cruelty that has been inflicted on the boy. Could you imagine if an Armenian kid was selected to lead out Turkey, a Bosnian Muslim to lead out Serbia, or possibly even an Australian kiddie to lead out Croatia?
McDonald's have apparently apologised for any misunderstanding but I wonder if they realise they have destroyed Master Moffet's life. Every time he passes one of their so-called restaurants he will be reminded of the day his dreams were crushed.
So when you are watching the opening match of the tournament on Friday night take special note of the boy holding the hand of Michael Ballack. If he has a tear in his eye you will at least know it is not a tear of joy or even of bewilderment, but a tear that symbolises a childhood brought to a horribly short end... the death of innocence.