February 29th, 2012

England v Holland (friendly, 2012)


The natural genetic advantages we enjoy over the Dutch, that nation of orange-painted, mountainless, self-arguing-among boat dwellers and underage animal pornography addicts, are too numerous to list in full so let us restrict ourselves to but a few. When we see a cow, our first instinct is not to set up an easel and paint it, but to chop it up into beef cutlets to strengthen our national stock. When we see a tulip, we say to ourselves “Hmm, a tulip”, rather than buy them up in absurd quantities at inflated prices, thereby bringing both our economy and our empire crashing to their knees. When we see a bike, we get upon it to look for work, not simply ride around canal sides upon it in search of pancakes or prostitutes. Our attitude to grass is to play up, play up and play the game upon it, not legalise it. And when we appoint our managers, we do not simply employ some random, unheard of grey haired, button eyed nobody whose only ability is to stand in a dugout with his arms crossed, but a man who embodies the red and white spirit of our stoutest yeomen, the sort that has seen is through many a crusade and campaign, unconquered, unbowed.

I refer, of course, to Mr Stuart Pearce, new England manager and true. A shrewd appointment. He has the experience but more importantly the tremendous thighs which are essential to his task, besides which all other qualities are footling. Secondly, like any decent leader, he would not ask if his men to run through a solid brick wall until he himself had done so first. Yes, one imagines him, staggering from the collision with cement and masonry, concussed, teeth broken, blood pouring from his split lip, lurching unsteadily to the first man in line on the training field and bellowing at him, “Now, YOU!!” Such are the character building exercises that have ensured England’s international dominance. Grit walls of passion, trenches of grit.

The National Anthems marked the schism wider than any North Sea between our two nations. The Dutch effort, a random series of puffs and parps, sounded like a chorus of players attempting to blow out the accumulated phlegm from their wind instruments.  As for our own, I had Seppings wheel the bathtub into the Television room so that I could both ablute and watch the fixture. As I stood up and saluted for its surging duration, I can proudly report that my manservant received full in the face the upshot of my erect appreciation.

Our Captain for the day was Scott Parker. An excellent choice, for of him it can be said the following; he is English, and that is basically it, he’s English. What further commendation is required? His haircut, of course, which recalls the finest traditions of This England, of Chariots of Fire and jellied eels, black and white films and amiable gangsters, of inner city London areas that used to be lovely, until . . . Captain Scott. How wrong could anything possibly go? Not for him the impulsive, continental game of one touch football – rather, the more exquisite, English ritual of falling over when caught in possession, then getting a rush of blood to the head and lunging in with a potentially ankle breaking challenge to make up. Ah, Scott. If there is but a tiny flaw in his make-up it is in that name, Scott. An English Scot? Not to be disrespectful to the former leader of the German Reich but it is not unlike calling yourself Jew Hitler. The weasel Scot is our sworn foe and nemesis. Better that he change his name by deed poll, to say, Inger. Inger Parker, middle name “Land”.

(Speaking of the Scots, it is treacherous that prior to such an important fixture as this, Mr Kenny Dalglish insisted in playing Steven Gerrard for Liverpool in a trifling domestic match for some bauble or other just days before this match. Such insolence. Of Dalglish it has been said that he needs classes in race relations awareness. Quite so. After this calculated slight, it is clear that he needs to be made aware of precisely where, and how far below, the Scottish race stands in relation to the English variety.)

The game began at a cracking pelt, with England swiftly on the attack and Steven Gerrard, playing with typical imagination from midfield, passing to a series of imaginary forwards. Scott Parker could take sole credit as Ashley Young linked up with Danny Wellbeck to shoot on goal. Gerrard was replaced by Daniel Sturridge and there was Scott Parker again as Sturridge accelerated past two Dutchmen and passed into an empty six yard box. The Dutch insolently attempted to shoot from distance but thanks to Scott Parker, the keeper saved. Thanks again to excellent work from Scott Parker, the referee whistled for half time.

Come the second half and Chris Smalling was carried from the field on his shield following a collision in what would have been a certain goal for Holland had Scott Parker not cleared off the line, which indeed was the case. Smalling was replaced by Phil Jones who huffed and chased like a farmhand anxiously pursuing the local squire’s huffy daughter whom he had ill-advisedly offered a ride home from the barn dance in his wheelbarrow. He worked hard, and, thanks to Scott Parker, delivered the vital pass that led to England’s second goal following Tim Cahill’s effort, which was well onside if you take into account that the linesman did not interfere in any way. The Dutch grabbed a late consolation goal thanks to the fellow in their line-up clearly selected because of his resemblance to John Profumo which they hoped would sap English morale. This, however, was clearly a “pity goal”, granted by the English defence on account of feeling sorry for the Dutch over the whole tulips business.

A famous result, then, which should ensure that Stuart Pearce becomes the Ramsey of his generation. Small matter that on selecting a team for Nottingham Forest he once failed to pick a goalkeeper; such a “failing” sets him in excellent stead to manage England, for whom the very act of opting for a goalkeeper is a calculated insult to their back four. One can imagine the Shakespearian, sinew-stiffening speech he gave to the players in the dressing room as, summoning the blood to his thighs he squeaked, “Look, I know I’m the bloke who used to hand you your boots as you came in to get changed, then collected after to take ’em home to polish but, I’m really like your boss. You call me Mr Cornwell – I mean, Mr Pearce. And you’ve gotter do what I say otherwise I’ll – I’ll tell Trevor Brooking!” Such a man will lead us beyond this trifling Harfleur to the Agincourt of Euro 2012.

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