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.

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