ENGLAND’S progress to the World Cup semi-finals in Russia has made social media in Wales a pretty toxic place over the past week or two.

Any football fan scrolling through their Twitter or Facebook feeds before, during and after matches involving the Three Lions is being bombarded with interminable ‘It’s coming home’ memes featuring Del Boy, Ron Burgundy and the cast of Friends amongst others.

And here in Wales that has been countered from the other end of the spectrum by the equally passionate ‘anyone but England’ brigade who have adopted the colours of Colombia, Sweden and now Croatia.

Rivalry is part of what makes sport great and most football obsessives will understand the psychology of rooting for an old foe’s opponent.

When Liverpool made the Champions League final in May it was a case of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ for the majority of Everton and Manchester United fans.

They, and no doubt fans of many other Premier League teams, breathed a huge sigh of relief when Gareth Bale’s masterclass and Loris Karius’ horror show ensured that Real Madrid lifted the trophy for the third year in a row.

As an Arsenal fan growing up I supported anyone against Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering Manchester United sides of the 1990s.

And I was massively relieved when Leicester City managed to hold off Tottenham Hotspur to win the Premier League title back in 2016.

As a reporter in France that summer covering Wales’ extraordinary run to the semi-finals of the European Championships I completely understood the delight with which Welsh fans and players greeted England’s defeat to Iceland.

It was regrettable that the squad’s exuberant celebrations leaked out via a notorious video clip but it was no surprise that Chris Coleman’s men were happy to see their rivals head home with their tail between their legs.

Because, let’s not forget, Wales and England were genuine rivals at Euro 2016 but there didn’t seem to be anything like the nastiness that we’ve witnessed online over the past few weeks.

There was plenty of schadenfreude when Iceland humbled Joe Hart & Co but when England beat Wales in the group stages there was not a hint of trouble with both sets of fans enjoying the occasion in Lens.

Fast forward two years and there’s a lot more ill-feeling and petty squabbling evident from both sides as England prepare for a first major semi-final since they hosted Euro ’96 and a first World Cup semi since Italia ’90.

Having been born and bred in Cardiff I consider myself to be Welsh first and foremost but my dad is from north London, which explains why I support Arsenal and why I want England to beat Croatia tomorrow night.

I’ll be watching with the old man, just like I was back in 1990 and 1996, and hoping that England can avoid another penalty shootout defeat.

I don’t believe that makes me any less Welsh than someone desperately hoping for more English heartache.

I wanted Wales to beat Roy Hodgson’s men in 2016 but I’ll be quite happy if Gareth Southgate’s team make the final of a tournament where Welsh involvement has sadly been restricted to roving reporter Jason Mohamed and Ryan Giggs on punditry duty.

Unlike some, I don’t believe the rest of the UK should get behind England and I completely understand why some could never bring themselves to cheer on the old enemy.

Certain posts on Twitter from The Principality Stadium – asking who England should pick against Belgium – and BBC Radio Wales – asking ‘are we all English now?’ after the Colombia match – have been inadvisable at best.

But the reaction to Wales boss Giggs – a man who has lived around Manchester since he was six – absent-mindedly referring to England as ‘we’ on TV seemed to me to be way over the top.

And the character assassination of an English-born reporter at WalesOnline for his vocal support of his home nation was unsavoury and unnecessary in my view, even though he has rightly apologised for some of his past Twitter posts.

It’s been a great World Cup with some fabulous matches and huge amounts of drama. Southgate and his team have come across, to my eye, as a fairly likeable bunch.

There is now less than a week of the tournament to go and only four matches left to savour so why not just enjoy the football, whether you’re cheering on England, Croatia, France or Belgium?

Support who you want, just try not to be a twit about it.