October 12th, 2010

England v Montenegro (Euro 2012 qualifier, 2010)


Thrashing Seppings recently for emitting a barely discernible groan when I ordered him to remove orally a secretion of pus from the gout on my big toe (saliva, particularly that of the underbred, has significant disinfectant properties, I believe), the old retainer’s blood spattered across my study, with one fleck landing on the globe that sits atop my desk, alighting, by happy coincidence, upon the insignificant principality of Montenegro, obliterating it from view. English blood would obliterate Montenegro on the field of play this evening, of that there was no doubt. This is a sub-country if ever there was one, an extraneous splinter of Balkan unrest, its people in some instances descended from ruminants, led by a Count, whose most notable item of cuisine is a soup produced by its old men, who stand in the sun for an hour to build up a sweat, then twist their moustaches over a rusty cauldron, before straining and serving.

Such were the mangy forces ranged before England’s bulldogs tonight. However, for all their contemptible Montenegritude, these leathery wretches could not be overestimated. They had a choice of over 620,000 people from whom to pick their players – England, as ever, have about 15, one of whom is Shaun Wright-Phillips. It was Agincourt all over again.

The National Anthems were once again the proof of our mettle. As the camera panned across the England line-up it was as well that it was angled above waist level, in the manner of the gyrating Mr Elvis Presley on the Mr Edward Sullivan show, for not even English shorts could conceal the tumescence of the players as they lustily yodelled their paean of praise to Her Majesty. As for the Montenegrin anthem, it briefly rose to the symphonic crescent of an Old Spice advertisement, before drooping into a defeated torpor.

The match kicked off and such was England’s spunky aplomb, pinging the ball about like Gods toying with orbs in the solar system that it was surely a matter of time before the Montenegrin management emerged from their dugouts, hands above heads or brandishing off-white handkerchieves. England were on fire, quite literally in the case of one Joleon Lescott, who had evidently set his hair alight in the dressing room in order to muster the passion on which England’s game feeds. Ashley Cole worked the channel with that customary scowl of his, quite rightly indignant at the fact that Mr Bill Gates earns more money than him, and all the disrespect to his person that that implies. A statue should be erected to Gareth Barry and it was appropriate that his midfield performance gave a strong indication as to how such a spectacle would appear. There were moments in the game when captain Rio Ferdinand was positively awake. As for Steven Gerrard, he provided a sterling example to the Montenegrins of just how effective you can be if you secede from a larger entity, in this case the England team, and simply go it alone, doing your own thing independently.  Peter Crouch was, as ever, tall.

It was fiscally prudent of England not to score in the first half, mindful, in these straitened times, of the strain this might put on the nets and looking to preserve these public assets for as long as possible. With Glen Johnson certainly not playing like some sort of absent minded clown whose place in the team can surely only have been assured by virtue of the stack of home porn movies he retains featuring members of the English management, there was no chance of the Montenegrins would trouble young Mr Hart. An absorbing half. Waiting for Chilean miners to be winched to the surface in several hours’ time could scarcely have been more entertaining.

Come the second half and Wayne Rooney, thousands of whose faithful lookalikes were among the crowd, was increasingly influential in the game, at one point 20 minutes in almost touching the ball. There was nothing in his game, nothing wistful, detached, inept, disconnected, wishing it was 2004 again but it never fucking will be, you vacant, doughy, cheapshagging, spunked out, hairless, hairy fuck, nothing of that sort at all that made you wonder if his testicles had been confiscated for the duration by wife Coleen.

With minutes to go and England’s dominance over the swarthy foe as assured as it had been since early on (around the 12th century), the men in white brought on Kevin Davies, much as, in days of old, cows were fired from catapults by stout defenders of English ramparts. The move spread panic among the Montenegrin defence, one or two of whom should have been note merely booked but indicted by an international court for Fouls against Humanity. This is the shabby way they conducted themselves in the Balkan wars – cynically scything down their opponents as they attempted to cross their borders, as the blue bereted UN looked on helplessly, like linesmen.

The final whistle came and while there was no questioning which of the teams had been England, a question mark certainly hung over the performance of the Brylcreemed, greasy-palmed referee. In Italy, in Genoa, the match between the hosts and Serbia had to be abandoned after Serbian fans bombarded the pitch with flares, with the match awarded to Italy by a score of 3-0. By rights, the England-Montenegro match should have been abandoned also, as word reached Wembley of the outrage and the same result awarded in England’s favour – guilt by Slavic association.

As we go forward, we do so in great uncertainty. The return fixture is due to take place in a year’s time but if recent history is any judge, who is to know whether Montenegro will still exist as a country next year? It might well have been subsumed, be known merely as Upper Serbia, or Bosnia East. Or they might well have been obliged, as a condition of EU entry, to change their country’s name to MonteAfrican-Caribbean Gentleman. Or Sven-Goran Eriksson might be managing them. In any of these very likely circumstances, victory must automatically be granted to England, for decency’s sake…

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