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…

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