Archive for September, 2011

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

England v Wales (Euro 2012 qualifier, 2011)


In his recently republished autobiography Over The Bar, in which the phlegm and wind breeze miserably off the pages, former Welsh goalkeeper Jack Kelsey recalls as a budding teenager keeping goal for his local village club. The opposing team shot from distance with little force requiring no more than a routine save. However, Kelsey happened to be distracted by an aeroplane passing overhead. His little Welsh eyes were transfixed by the sight and as he result, he barely scrambled to save a ball that was, until he unWalesed his senses, bobbling undisturbed into the net.

And there, in a nutshell, you have the Welsh. They currently stand at 117th in the world footballing rankings, with formidable nations such as Haiti looking down on them. It was news to me that there were more than 117 nations in the world. One wonders at the calibre of some of them.

It may well be that there are nations whose military capability amounts to half a dozen blow darts who rank higher than the Welsh. It may well be that there are nations who worship Prince Philip (not in a sensible way, the way we English do, but much in the way a backward tribe of savages might worship an extra large boulder) who rank higher than the Welsh.  It may well be that there are tribes dwelling deep in the Amazon rainforest who, were they discovered, would rank higher than the Welsh, knocking them down into 118 place. There may well be nations who would not only be distracted by a passing plane, but would sink to their knees in abasement as if it were a sky-god who rank higher than the Welsh. Were the English not so sporting, we could have won tonight’s game by simple dint of having the Red Arrows fly back and forth over Wembley stadium, with the players in red swaying their heads in rapture at these sky machines, as our boys scored at will.

It is a marvel that the Welsh persist, not just as a nation, but as a geographical entity. That it rains constantly upon the place is no coincidence; the Lord God Almighty is dropping the strongest possible hint that they are effectively water, and ought to submerge into the sea forthwith, so that we in England could get an unimpeded view across the ocean and see what the Irish are up to. They are an irrelevance. We have enough slate, thank you. We have enough ultimately disappointing Labour politicians, thank you. We have enough – have enough – have enough gravel, thank you.

The National Anthems so emphatically indicated the difference between the two teams that the fixture should have been declared in England’s favour there and then, thereby wasting no more of the valuable time of those in the corporate seats who had taken the trouble to turn up at Wembley out of sheer, patriotic duty. Our own was so rousing, so loin-tingling, that had it gone on for a couple more verses I might have had no option but to have my manservant Seppings. As for the Welsh; “Land Of My Fathers”?  To what does this refer? That the average Welsh person can only be conceived by dint of five of his elder countrymen clubbing together their semen in the hope that  between them, they will produce a single strong swimmer? In any case, the title of the song should be “Land Of My Masters – My English Masters, From England”.

The game set off at an exhilaratingly brisk pace, with England’s forwards encouraging and settling down their own fans by making sure they got several early touches of the ball. Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant looks better and better with each passing game. How wise he was not simply to pay a fucking tenner to some fucking bloke down the fucking market who could lay his fucking hands on the fucking fur from a fucking dead dog’s fucking arse and a fucking strip of double-sided  fucking Velcro. There were other strong performances as well. Ashley Cole has made that shirt his own; however, it is as well that it still reads “A. Cole”, as there is every prospect of both Joe and Carlton Cole finding their way back into the England team, or, still more likely, Andy Cole. As for Lampard, his contribution was of immense allegorical, theological significance. The atheist dolts like Dawkins disbelieve in God because they find no evidence of His existence. What fools they will feel when, at the very end, as when Lampard was substituted, they will realise that He was there the whole time.

As for the Welsh, they were full of low, sneaky tricks. Calling one of your players “Gunter”, in the hope that he might be mistaken by the English for a German, was perhaps the lowest of them. More chilling was Bale. His disconcertingly Simean aspect made one imagine, with horror, some new cinematographic feature entitled Planet Of The Welsh. Could Bales be our masters in some future dystopia?

The game had been one in a single, fell swish by Ashley Young, who converted with the nonchalance of a fellwalker shaking off a piece of dirt from his shoe – in this case, the dirt of Welsh insolence and presumption of parity. Briefly, the Welsh did threaten – however, the ball fell to Earnshaw, a veritable jar exhibit as to the folly of blending disparate inferiors. Any decent phrenologist would have anticipated in a trice that he would bungle the one chance granted to him by an England team already beset with anxiety as just where the Euro 2012 trophy would fit in their already overcrowded cabinet.

The final whistle blew on a moral 26-0 victory for those sporting the Three Lions crest; jubilation abounded on the England bench, save for Signor Capello, the mascot, looking on like the comedic Greek fellow in the light entertainment programme Shooting Stars shown by the British Broadcasting Corporation. One could imagine him fantasising that all this time he had actually been  in charge of the team, and, having somehow grasped the English vernacular, raging as follows; ‘YEAH, SURE, WE BEAT THE FUCKING WELSH, AND YOU SHALL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF OUR FUCKING EXCREMENT AS WE DID SO! JITTERY ISN’T THE FUCKING WORD! JUST AS WELL AS IT WAS PISSING DOWN WITH RAIN TODAY, AS THEY’D HAVE BEEN SCARED SHITLESS OF THEIR OWN FUCKING SHADOWS IN THE BUILD-UP, LET ALONE THE PROSPECT OF THE FUCKING WELSH – AND LET ME AGAIN EMPHASISE THIS, THE FUCKING WELSH! EURO 2012? BOOK EARLY TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT – EARLY FUCKING FLIGHTS HOME, THAT IS! WHEN I WAS MADE MANAGER, I TOLD THE FUCKING FA, GIVE ME THE TOOLS AND I’LL DO THE JOB – I DIDN’T MEAN GIVE ME THIS BUNCH OF FUCKING TOOLS!”

However, his inner monologue doubtless went; “ice cream, ice cream, a-da-ice cream . . .”

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

England v Bulgaria (Euro 2012 qualifier, 2011)


In the 9th century, Krum, the Khan of Bulgaria, defeated the Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros I at the Varbica pass. As token of his victory, he had the skull of his slain foe lined with silver and used as a wine cup. In our own times, I should not recommend that John Terry, England’s own veritable captain and Khan, insist that his Bulgarian counterpart’s skull be similarly hollowed out and made into such a vessel; I have tasted Bulgarian wine. In a rash act of cruelty towards my manservant Seppings, I made him finish the bottle. This ill-treatment troubles my conscience to this day.

The thrashing of Bulgaria is not so much a victory, in truth, as a formality, part of the warp and weft of European history, stretching back to the 12th century. Since then, it has been a part of the rite of passage for any growing European entity or empire, be they the Turks, the Russians or the Germans, to thrash the Bulgarians en route to regional dominance. Tonight, it was the turn of Gary Cahill to administer his own swipe, by way of a “blooding”. Thrashing is the very rhythm of Bulgarian life and culture, and has been so for centuries. By their tanned hides shall you know these people. And so it duly was tonight. It might well have been said, by way of diversion by our variety hall comedians, that “If England don’t win tonight I’ll eat me perishin’ hat!” The Bulgarians,  in mournful contrast, doomed to perpetual defeat, did eat their own hats, as they do every night; their national dish is Baklava, a form of sensible headjoy, rather than reckless sustenance, in the rest of Europe.

The National Anthems marked the vast difference between a supreme and a sub-people. Our own was as loin-tingling as ever, the playing of which is well known to have had a bracingly Viagrian effect on our own Prince Philip over the decades, producing four fine children. One imagined a trouserly ascension in the Grand old Duke as our boys bellowed it out tonight, even in these, the Autumn of his years. As for the Bulgarian anthem, it was an ominous, flaccid dirge, full of foreboding, as if rumour had spread of a national beetroot shortage, or a failure to meet quarterly targets in the production of latrine mops.

The game began at a terrific clip; men against dogs. The Bulgarians regarded the ball as if it were some fascinating, otherworldly object of which they were doomed never to have possession, like a pair of denim jeans or a transistor radio. Our boys pranced among them like cavalrymen gaily torching the villages of bewildered, enserfed Eastern European peasantry. Stewart Downing was a luxury, one, unlike the average Bulgarian, we could well afford. Joe Hart, keeping goal, would be quite entitled, this coming Monday, to barge aside the hopeful queue of Bulgarian asylum seekers and apply for Unemployment Benefit for the 90 minutes he spent idle this evening. Theo Walcott once again comported himself with the sporadic excellence of a lad who may blossom into a great player once he reaches puberty. As for Frank Lampard, he was not selected for the first eleven – it would be an insult to him to be selected for such a petty chore as tonight’s game – but it is a tribute to him that he contributed no less than usual on the field of play.

Of course, the hero of the evening was Wayne Rooney. It has been widely reported, with much mirth in the yellow press and beyond, that he has availed of hair replacement surgery. Headlines will doubtless ensue such as “HAIR WE GO”, THATCH MY BOY”, “WEAVE DONE IT”, ROONEY TAKES HAIRPIECE AGAINST RUBBISH OPPOSITION”, ROONEY SHOWS NO SIGN OF WIG-NESS”, “HELL TOUPEE FOR BULGARIANS” and ROONEY SCORES TWO GOALS DESPITE LOOKING LIKE CUNT” but of one thing there is no doubt; in ten years time, he will be enormously fat. Fat on success.

The game was effectively over at half time; it is an insult that England were pedantically obliged by UEFA jobsworths to turn out for the second half, rather than be whisked home by military plane so as not to have to endure 45 more minutes of the stench of Sofia, the stench of defeat and of attempting to manufacture soap from cabbage extract. However, play on we did, in a markedly sarcastic manner. The latter stages were marred by racialist, Simean chanting by sections of the Bulgarian support. This was bemusing, especially coming a people who are so consistently bottom of Europe’s racial league table that it is a wonder that they have not been relegated to the Zoological Division. Who, of all people, are they to jeer? It was as if one of their number had taken to the pitch carting a wheelbarrow full of Bulgarian currency and taunted Rooney; “Look! See, I buy one cup your Leicester Square coffee easy, bigtime!”

Lothar Matthaus later apologised. This was appropriate, of course. It later transpired, however, that he apologised because he is actually affiliated to the Bulgarian team, in the capacity of manager. This came as a surprise – but of course, this only shows that when it comes to England, foreigners band together in jealous, baleful hostility regardless of their own nationality. As for England, we have only English managers. Mascots such as Capello do not count, nor do gardeners widely mistaken for managers on account of their deceptively profound utterances count either. (Red faces and media blackouts all round when Mr Eriksson finally declared, “Look, I am Sven from Sweden, my job is to water the indoor plants at Soho Square, why do you keep asking me about Ecuador?”)

Further good news emerged when it turned out that the Welsh had beaten group rivals Montenegro, for which large sections of the media congratulated them, out of natural fealty to Prince Charles, their goals the property of the Crown. However, I should not discount this being a botched attempt on the part of those resentful, Harlech blackguards to deliberately lose the match, so as to thwart their English masters. When it comes to the Welsh scoring two goals in the same game, it can best be marked down to accident, or “cock-up” rather than conspiracy.