Archive for June, 2010

Monday, June 28th, 2010

World Cup 2010 Report: England v Germany


Ah, the Germans. Arrogant, brutally efficient, square-jawed, humourless, except when some particularly vicious act of sadism causes a smile of relish to play about their thin but prominent lips, playing to the regular rhythm of leather boot-heel across gravel as they annex some wretched Eastern European nation – there can be few men of cultivation who do not harbour a rare soft spot for this proud people, foreign as they regrettably are. And yet, there is always the fatal flaw that distinguishes the Teuton from the pure bred Englishman. A debate currently rages about whether a foreigner ought to be allowed to manage another country and so it was in the 1930s in the Fatherland. Since they were minded to do so, however, would that they had opted for the stewardship of our own Mr Oswald Mosley, hero of Cable Street, as opposed to the excitable little Austrian unigonad with whom they ultimately threw in their lot. One sympathises, naturally, with the overall hygienic intentions of their 1930s/40s administration but laments that for all their efforts to pick up their feet as they strode through Europe, they remained, at heart, bungling sauerkraut gobblers. As one of our finest and most married of English playwrights might have put it, “To lose one World War might be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like carelessness.”

We could have been terrific chums, England and Germany, had they accepted their subordinate role as comic, imperfect English speaking sidekicks to our handsome leading men. It was not to be, however. And so, the rivalry remains robust. Or has been. I have noted with some displeasure that the benighted younger generation is decreasingly inclined to join in with the merry banter at the expense of the Bosch which has long been a staple of our culture. The tabloid, or yellow press made a token effort today with headlines such as “COME ON ENGLISH BULLDOGS, STUFF THEIR    HITLER SAUSAGES DOWN THEIR THROATS”, “ROO, LAMPS, LET’S FINISH THE JOB WE STARTED IN DRESDEN” and “THE ONLY GOOD GERMAN FORWARD IS A DEAD NAZI” but you sensed their hearts weren’t really in it. The entire mood of the nation was, I felt, insufficiently bellicose. One raged thus; this isn’t some kickabout in No Man’s Land in December 1915. This is the round of 16. This is war.

All the same, as the teams lined up for the National Anthems, one sat relaxed in one’s armchair like Churchill at the Yalta Summit, fully confident of ultimate victory. The National Anthems, as ever, confirmed this. Our own was blared out with the confidence in Her Majesty that had her Mother had her way, we would have allowed Germany a “by” into the next round in exchange for safe passage by ocean liner to Canada. As for the Germans, they murmured their way through its dolorous passages, like small men weighed down by their own tubas, realising that the extent to which Deutschland would ever be “über alles” would be, almost half a century on, finally in control of the Eastern half of its own self. A poor haul, all told.

Despite this, the match was allowed to go ahead (an argument for video technology, surely, with the referee, linesman and fourth official allowed access to footage of The World At War, which quite clearly shows that we won the 1939-1945 campaign?). The game began at a cracking pelt, with England at once reminiscent of Corporal Jones run amok with his bayonet, and the hapless Germans scattered, clutching their trouser seats, shouting “Hilfe!” in high-pitched, cracked voices – all reminders of England’s dominance on the pitch over Germany circa 1972. So emphatic was our dominance was that it was of little matter when the Germans put the ball in the net a couple of times in the opening, 20 odd minutes. This had, after all, reactivated a debate that raged among thinking men prior to the match. Should we adopt towards Germany the strategy of Versailles and crush them utterly and humiliatingly, or perhaps let them have a goal or two, a sort of a Marshall Plan, so as to pacify them and reduce them to their current status of red-trousered, white socked, yellow tank topped, poodle haired imbeciles with a pidgin grasp of modern culture, capable only of inane utterances such as “Life Is Life”? (Well, of course it bally well is, what else did you think it was? Lettuce? Pyjamas?) The vuvuzelas droned from both sets of supporters, though the benighted Germans’ were distinguishable by the conspicuous umlauts on their b-flat blares.

Before long, England had more than restored parity, thanks not least to the ball bouncing off the head of the indispensable Matthew Upson into the German net. There then followed a goal from Frank Lampard. This, the referee, in his overseas obtuseness, failed to award but of course, this is both to be expected and of no consequence. The suggestions of foreign officials are, of course, noted, as a quaint, diplomatic matter of course, but count for nothing in the actual register of things. He felt it was no goal; I realised it was, to all intents and purposes, as was an earlier effort by Steven Gerrard which uprooted the corner flag but had so clearly and fervently been intended to land between the goalposts that in my judicial view it counted as a goal and was marked down as such.

Come the second half and England continued to dictate the tempo of the game in the manner that the aforementioned Corporal Jones dictated the pace of the Platoon drill in the Dad’s Army documentary series. Always that half a second’s difference. We were imperious. Glenn Johnson and Ashley Cole were never caught so far out of position at the back that the German forward line could have constructed vast estates complete with turreted Bavarian castles, stables and grounds for boar hunting in the space they left behind. Gareth Barry proved himself to be a player of true continental standard, moving and drifting as he did at the speed of continents. James Milner wasn’t, yet again, a beefed up slab of useless. twatfangled cuntwaddery mouthbreathing much-needed air on the touchline. Steven Gerrard once again proved his worth as a goodwill ambassador and free gift distributor, spraying balls gratuitously into the crowd at every opportunity. And Wayne Rooney once again gave the lie to the idea that here is a man with whom you’d no more trust to do the right thing with the ball than you would him to do with your own grandmother.


As the final whistle blew, it was clear that England’s performance had earned them a place in the quarter finals. I refer, of course, to our performance at Waterloo in 1815, which is a supreme historical determinant. Having once again lost count of the score by which England prevailed, I asked Seppings the result. Although trembling for some reason, his answer was clear enough to me. “Germany? Faugh! England won.” And yet, I hear talk that according to some new-fangled, Brussels-based metric-style measurement, the Germans are claiming that, owing to the technicality of their players having put the ball in the net quite a few more times than our own, they are claiming passage to the next round, with factors such as pedigree, history of empire, erectness, spunk and beef disregarded altogether. This will not stand. I cast my hopeful eyes upon John Terry, who was this day as accommodating and wise to the Germans in defence as was Mr Neville Chamberlain in 1938. I charge him to deliver the following message to both the German Chancellor and to the British people, by the medium of wireless. That we have demanded that the umlauted German manager Herr Löw ask himself who does he think he is kidding if he thinks old England are done in this World Cup. That this evening the British Captain in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that unless we heard from them by 11.00 pm that they were prepared at once to withdraw their team from the quarter finals, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is, once again, at war with Germany. And this time, we shall not bring on Shaun Wright Phillips as substitute. This time we are serious.

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

World Cup 2010 Report: England v Slovenia


“Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Your boys took a hell of a beating!”

It is often remarked by association football commentators that you can “only beat the team in front of you”. England made a nonsense of this at Rorke’s Drift, of course, when we beat the team that was not only in front of us, but also behind and to either side of us. Moreover, in beating Slovenia, we weren’t just beating this spurious, new-fangled principality who only recently became aware of their own existence. We were also beating Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Germany and all the other upstarts who dare to issue propaganda to their own gullible peoples asserting that they would stand a fighting chance against our own Upson, Milner, Johnson and co. Tonight, clad in the red of Empire which in better times has splotched the buttock of the globe like a raw welt from the thrashing our imperial superiority, we showed that as a footballing fighting force, not even a nation which contains more mountains than people, whose principal export is glowering men in antlers playing timpani-based beat music for sallow young men in black suits, can best us.

There is little to be said about the stray piece of Balkan jetsam that is Slovenia, except that nature, in Her wisdom, made their men unusually tall, so as to make them easier to spot in immigration queues, pull out of the line and put straight on the first boat back to Central Europe. Doubtless they have poets, but when every word ends in the syllable “ic”, it is a jolly sight too easy to shine in this department. The National Anthems were the mark of our disparity. Ours was yodelled lustily by every man jack of our players, except for Milner, who, being Northern and subject to the speech impediment common to the people of that region, wisely kept his mouth shut, realising that to do otherwise would be akin to smearing the flag with tripe, or delivering Princess Anne the brutal kick up her jodhpured backside she so patently doesn’t deserve. As for the Slovaks, so tediously derivative were its strains that it will doubtless be the subject of lawsuits from the estates of half a dozen eminent 19th century composers. This alone should have entitled to us to a direct free kick at the opening of play.

Instead, the game begin with England immediately on the attack, crushing the Slavs beneath our hooves as we thundered goalward. If Glenn Johnson’s initial first touch was as adept as a that of a seal trying to grasp a bar of wet soap, if Matthew Upson’s deceptive combination of slowness and gormlessness meant he might as well have worn a giant, deely bopper-style headpiece in flashing neon letters reading “LIABILITY! LIABILITY! LIABILITY!”, if Milner’s opening contributions were as risible as if he were stumbling along the touchline with his shorts fallen about his ankles, then I, for one, certainly did not notice. Once again, England were playing with the sort of blood, beef, thunder, passion, gravy, wind, guts, fire, horsepower, sprouts, commitment and Yorkshire pudding that precludes the need to pass the ball calmly, and slowly, in a fucking straight line every fucking now and again.

Inevitably our endeavour was swiftly rewarded as Defoe, who, for obvious reasons will be among those players travelling on the lower deck of the bus during the victory parade through London, showed his humble commitment to the cause by helping into the net a cannoned cross from Milner. One nation roared in unison, the rest quailed, not least our opposition the Slovankians, who were so bewildered at this stage they had no more idea of precisely which nation they were than the rest of us do.

By now, it was simply a question of whether England need bother scoring any more goals, or simply declare and not come out for the second half. In grudging obeisance to a technicality in the rules we did, however. Steven Gerrard commanded midfield, varying bits of it, his resolved expression suggestive of a man whose brain resounds to more than the incessant, Scouse drone of a hesitant “Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”. Wayne Rooney was calmness personified, displaying none of the sort of superheated, hairy impetuosity that makes you wonder if he shouldn’t be clad in an icepack bodysuit at half time in order to calm him the fuck down and not keep chasing the ball like a famished fucking cartoon coyote going after a fucking road runner. As for mascot Capello, who, amusing to relate has been somewhat grumpy and downcast in recent days, like an organ grinder whose monkey is refusing to hold out its tin cup, he entertained us all, bounding about on the touchline like some comic opera buffoon, as if about to hitch up his trousers, reveal his garters and bellow “GO COMPARRRE!” One could even go so far as to say he has made a token, modest, inadvertent contribution to England’s success, in at least preserving their good temper. Perhaps he could even be allowed onto the victory parade bus, in the capacity of driver.

As the final whistle approached, the Slaves of the former central Europe showed their desperation by making a brace of efforts on the England goal, whose ineptitude only heightened the jollity of millions of English viewers. As the final whistle blew, celebrations were untinged with the sentiment that, Jesus H fucking Crapstick, in a group we should have conga’d routinely through given our players and fucking resources, we only just made it out of by the width of a flake off a fucking scab on a gnat’s fucking kneecap. We are dead meat waiting to be fucking roasted.

The crowning and memorial moment came from John Terry. “On the field, you can rely on him to be entirely focussed on the game,” remarked the commentator on the British Broadcasting Broadcasting Corporation. Yes, indeed, Mr Terry can, and deserves to be congratulated for not actually shagging players’s wives out on the pitch during the match. But he deserves even more kudos than that. Who among us can forget the image of him, during a last ditch Slovenian effort on goal, projecting himself sideways on, swimming through the air head first? He was a spermatozoa, the ball his ovum. It was, for this old campaigner, in a very real sense the most stimulating moment of this tournament so far, the most engorging, most reverberating, most pulsating . . . Seppings! The bucket!

Monday, June 21st, 2010

World Cup 2010 Report: England v Algeria


And so, in an absurdly pedantic insistence on FIFA’s part, England were obliged to go through the formality of handsomely thrashing the Algerians tonight. This, despite Algeria having already been beaten 3-0 by Eire, our proven subordinates in the British Isles. Eire, I ask you, a team whose goalkeeper, I understand, takes to the field in a large green velvet hat, so seriously are they to be taken as a footballing force. Of course, the Algerians themselves are feverishly keen on football, which as a national sport is second only to massacres, a recreation they have pursued with great gusto since roughly the 8th century, a recreation in which they have three times been crowned all-Africa champions – in 1963, 1992 and 2002.

One’s upper lip quivers with scorn upon contemplating the Algerians. They were clad in green tonight, the colour of envy, which is befitting, and also the colour of nostril evacuations which is all the more so. There they have been positioned for centuries on the North African coastline, like some swarthy pavement harlot, jostling with their neighbours for the privilege of being conquered by one of the more eminent European nations. In the event, they were spurned by all but the French, who sent over the Second Battalion The Royal Mistresses to subjugate them in the 19th century.

Such was the Tuareg’s toenail of a team ranged against England this night. The National Anthems proved a striking contrast. Our own was broadcast throughout the Dark Continent with such imperial force that it would be no surprise to wake up this morning and discover that Zimbabwe has decided, on cowardly reflection, to revert to the name of English Rhodesia. As for the risible Algerian effort, with all its absurd pretensions to nationhood as opposed to herdhood, a stricter referee would have intervened and declared, “Right, that’s quite enough of that!” immediately following the drum roll and booked all 11 Algerian players for timewasting, to say nothing of their manager. He appeared to have been picked at random from a group of fellows of similar appearance who spend their days hunched on a rusty chair in an Algiers market square, staring into space while their scarved womenfolk work 22 hour days boiling chickpeas and raising families of nine.

The game began at a fierce pace, with England looking resplendent in white, their kits reminiscent of those sported by our men in the 1924 Olympics, as celebrated in the motion picture Chariots Of Fire, whose famous slow-motion sequences England did a fine job of emulating in the opening minutes. Regrettably, our aristocrats found themselves harried and pestered by the Algerians, clearly keen to acquire their autographs and sell them trinkets. Further anarchy ensued when the English half became overrun with over-enthusiastic, dusky little men in green. At one point, it looked as though it might be necessary for a policeman on a white horse to clear the pitch, or, failing that, former Afrikaans members of the local force to take a no-nonsense approach with truncheons and wolfhounds.

England soon re-established order, however, managing at one point to keep position for an entire 2.3 fucking seconds before lofting the fucking ball high and pointlessly under no fucking pressure back to the opposition. It was an enthralling encounter, watched at first hand by Their Royal Highnesses Prince William and Prince Harry (at this point, the reader is bidden to stand to attention; you may sit down again at the end of the sentence). The cameras cut to them in the stands more than once. At no point did Prince William have a tetchy, impatient look, as if having waited 25 minutes for a below stairs member of staff to come up and run his bath, while Prince Harry certainly did not appear to be caught in a reverie, planning his next jolly, themed birthday banquet in which he and his chums got themselves up as Camp Commandants and SS Guards with waiters, footmen and catering staff dressed in stripy pyjamas.

Come half time and mascot Capello departed early for the dressing room, in order to cut the oranges and prepare an amusing mime routine involving a clumsy Italian riding his bike into a ditch for the players’ entertainment. It was a performance to be pleased with, and a vindication of how well the Premier League, and all its attendant rewards, prepares English players for international competition. At no fucking point did they appear to be playing with the sullen fucking lethargy of over-feted, cunting multi-millionaires contractually obliged by FIFA to play a series of overseas exhibition games, deliberately saving their fucking energies for the games that really mattered, the ones they played against snarling tribes of virtual robo-Goths in adverts for twatting Pepsi and cuntfucking Nike.

The second half saw England in the same, imperious form they had displayed in the first. Steven Gerrard’s play was almost telepathic – it was if he was passing to colleagues who existed only his own head. I am a sportsman but even I regarded as a little cruel David James’s consciously and successfully aiming every single one of his punts outfield onto the head of a hapless, opposing Algerian, time after time after time after time. Wayne Rooney is playing with a wisdom, poise and maturity way beyond his years – tonight, he played like an 87 year old. Glenn Johnson displayed the great English virtue of hospitality at right back, a hospitality that was constantly abused by the Algerians, to their dark-skinned shame. John Terry was as free of self-defeating thuggishness and high-handed incompetence as was our stewardship of Empire. Frank Lampard, we can all agree, has rarely put in a finer performance than the one he put in tonight. He occupied the centre circle like some international spy passing anonymously and unnoticed among the hordes of the foreign foe, unnoticed, indeed, by anyone at all. When he shot, as he did late on, it was deliberately way up high and wide, like a pith helmeted member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces arriving in the nick of time at a jungle clearing, firing his revolver into the air and demanding that the local natives cease chanting and remove those missionaries from their cooking pot forthwith.

All the while the Algerians attempted importunate sallies into our penalty box when their time would have been more appropriately spent in food preparation for England’s victory celebration. It was hard to keep count of the score – one dares say it was at least 8 or 9-0. The trivial chore of keeping a tally I left to Seppings. To my disgust, however, he had neglected his duties entirely, not noting down a single England goal. His punishment was lenient under the circumstances – drink a gallon of rancid pickle juice, urinate it into the septic tank and sleep therein overnight, ruminating on his inability to spot even anything remotely resembling a half-chance, let alone a goal for England.

Following the match, England fans affectionately chanting Wayne Rooney’s nickname (“Rooooooo!! Rooooooooooooooo!!”). As Algeria’s players were led onto their coach to be driven  back North and dropped off at their nation’s border, Mr Steven Gerrard agreed to be interviewed by the Independent Television channel. He opined that tonight had been Algeria’s “World Cup Final”. This was as true as it was uncondescending. As one who has participated in many World Cup Finals and will certainly take part in many more, Mr Gerrard knows all about that World Cup Final feeling. Indeed, for an Algerian, a great many things we English take as a mundane and a given is their World Cup Final. Putting on shoes is, to them, a World Cup Final. Turning on a tap and watching water gush from it is, to them, a World Cup Final. Sharing the same planet as John Terry is, to them, a World Cup Final. That in five games’ time John Terry will himself be playing in, and winning an actual World Cup Final is a true indication of the vast disparity between England and Algeria as reflected in tonight’s result.

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

World Cup 2010 Report: England v USA


And so, in the first match of this World Cup, England was obliged to undergo the ritual of raising its mailed hand and smiting the insolent opponent. Tonight, it was the United States Of America, temporarily absconded from the Empire, who dared once more to pit themselves against the inevitable. There America sits, faraway, very much on the wrong side of Bayswater, like a giant, veiny, spotted, superfatted arse hanging over the trousers of humanity. A country that believes that a tube and a bucket are, respectively, the appropriate receptacles for cheese and chicken. A country that persists with the obdurate belief that words should be written as pronounced, a philosophy that would have my old army lieutenant (note the “f”) Ralph Featherstonehaugh-Brough (pronounced, of course, “Johnson”) turning in his grave, or as the Americans would doubtless have it, “grayv”. Memo to Americans: You benighted people were put on this earth to serve the English language, not for it to serve you. A country also which has visited upon the world a garish tradition of cinematic picture films, designed needlessly to inflame and over-excite the populace. This, we could have done without, of course. British cinema was quite exciting and diverting enough, thank you Mr Cagney, as 1930s black and white masterpieces such as It Happened In Dorchester, Brief Handshake and Oh! What A Piccaninny attest, made in gayer, less queer times.

Such were the cultural forces ranged against us on this African night, in which, as at Rorke’s Drift, we were outnumbered on all sides by a chanting crowd. But our determination to defend the supply station of our goals tally was writ in the faces of our players, every man Jack of them. The National Anthems were the proof of the thing. Our own, of course was delivered by Frank Lampard in particular with more energy than he would subsequently devote to the game – an admirable sense of priority. Its imaginative brass section stands as a reproach to the likes of Mr Louis Armstrong and his dissonant jazz cohorts as to what you can really do with a trumpet when you get to work. As for the American anthem it wended its way like a bedraggled US army division marching around in circles finding itself back where they started out. (“What the hell does it mean, turn ‘right’? What’s that word? ‘Riggit’? Why didn’t they just write ‘rite’?”). “Home of the brave”? Indeed it was the home of the brave, and indeed the squaw, until you people rather rudely barged them aside.

There was some doubt that the USA would be persuaded to join in with the World Cup at all, and that it might be necessary to bomb a portion of their navy in order for them to do so. However, if history teaches us one thing it is the Americans will involve themselves when a) The English have been doing so for some time and b) The English have built up such a decisive lead that victory is inevitable. And so it was this evening. Only once England had gone a goal up, setting a seal of certainly upon the tie, did America begin to play. At this point, I invite readers to play a diverting parlour game called “Create Your Pornography Star Name”. It is quite simple. Take the first name of an American football player. Then take his surname. And there you have it. “Clint Dempsey”, “Landon Donovan”. Such uproarious juxtapositions.

As for England, we played the game at our usual, fevered tempo – hitting the ball to one another fast and through the air, as befits our elevated status, not along the ground, in the grovelling, lowly manner of the foreigner. We controlled midfield, even if we were not necessarily there in person – sometimes, an abstract sense of authority is enough. Mr James Milner showed why his is among the first names on the team sheet. There is very little truth at all in the assertion that we’d have been better off placing a side of fucking beef in the centre circle and hoping the ball bounced off it now and again. David Beckham and Wayne Rooney were among the interested spectators.

There was, however, a most unpleasant diplomatic incident shortly before half time. A speculative shot from one of the American players – his name escapes me, let us call him “Raging Hardon” for the sake of argument – fell with due obedience into the hands of English goalkeeper Robert Green. He, however, in one of those rare mishaps to which even English goalkeepers have once or twice in history been prone, spilt the ball and allowed it to trickle over the line. Now, there should have been no question of allowing the goal to stand. As any English jury would agree, it was clearly the goalkeeper’s intention to gather up the ball and then kick it back into play. What possible motive, unless he had turned in the manner of Benedict Arnold, would he have had deliberately to throw the ball into his own net? It was clearly a case of unintentional ball to hand. That the officials, all foreigners, despite my own protests, were obtuse enough to allow the goal to stand is of no matter. The Americans, as gentlemen, should have waived it. But then, the clue is in the word “American”. Instead, these curs wheeled away in celebration of their “goal”. The USA President, “Mr” Obama, shall be summoned to London by the FA to explain himself.

Having doubtless once more sent out Signor Capello, our mascot, to jump up and down to keep the photographers amused while the serious business was being conducted indoors, we regathered our forces and seized control of the game in the second half. We invented the game, you know – to my mind, we ought to start charging other countries for playing it. That, however, is a debate for another day. As the the whistle blew on another moral victory for England, thoughts turned to the current oil crisis, which has seen an entire coastline go minstrel, thanks to the bungling of American companies entrusted with the maintenance of British interests in the region. As team Captain, John Terry should be dispatched to explain our terms. Unless the last drop of oil is wrung from every last cormorant and returned forthwith, in canisters, to the United Kingdom, then hostilities, which in 1776 ceased to my mind prematurely, will be resumed immediately. Those jazz-crazed, hamburger-addled Americans will soon stop snapping their fingers in that louche fashion of theirs when they catch sight of Mr Terry, the determined glint in his eye, the aspect of his demeanour, the chiselled resolve of his upturned chin, his chest, his thighs. If you are going to punish us for our spillages, we will certainly punish you for yours…