June 2nd, 2012

England v Belgium (friendly, 2012)


Regarding Belgium, which sits across the water beneath the hindquarters of the United Kingdom as if having recently been excreted by the British Isles, it is extraordinary to think that such a thunderously ignominious nation is allowed to sit in such impertinent proximity to our own. Belgium is what happens when The Netherlands takes France to a seedy hotel in Luxembourg for the weekend and they fornicate; Belgium is the bastard, mongrel offspring of the encounter. It is only thanks to footballing fixtures such as this that we are reminded that Belgium exists at all (see also: Uruguay). Indeed, the Belgians recently held a referendum in which they were asked to decide whether the still wanted to carry on as a country. A narrow vote in favour resulted in the present Prime Minister one Elio Di Rupo, an ardent socialist, committed homosexualist and suspected Italian. It is, therefore, the present, stated policy of Brussels to sodomise young Englishmen in the European Zone, pay them an obscenely fair wage for their services and possibly attempt to sell them ice cream. Small wonder that for this fixture we laid a strong emphasis on a tight back four.

Belgium was not always quite so pernicious; one looks back fondly on the days of the kindly King Leopold, whose policies of benevolent annihilation did so much to drag a backward and recalcitrant Africa into the 20th century, though its natives were not always aware of the medicinal benefit of his methods. One also remembers, from more innocent times, the animated cartoon adventures of that young boy and his small dog, chasing hook-nosed, Hebrew arch villains across the Congo with the aid of Oogawooga, a larged-lipped, amusingly dusky local they befriended during an elephant slaughter. Belgium has also functioned as a convenient, midway location for our periodic, cousinly skirmishes with the Germans, in which the ground is somewhat liable to cut up when the going is good to soft. Better it do so over there, I believe we are all agreed, than over here.

The National Anthems determined the difference, however, between our nations as presently constituted, evoking our disparities. When we erect our statues, they do not pass water – Pissing Baden Powell would be no way to remember the author of Scouting For Boys. We paint, rather than eat our horses. Our own anthem was bellowed with particularly gusto and engorgement, this being the weekend in which we celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. Each of us “did our bit” to pay tribute to the Monarchy. I, for example, had Seppings dress up as Oliver Cromwell, whereupon I beat him to near death with a shovel. The Belgian dirge, by contrast, sounded as if it was composed for some quaint, tinpot city square Flemish military ceremony in which, on the orders of a Lieutenant-Commander, a costumed goat is fired from a cannon.

The game began at a brisk pelt, with Frank Lampard as conspicuous as ever in midfield. The defence was ably marshalled; how Ashley Cole and Glenn Johnson must have enjoyed being bellowed at across the field of play by John Terry, whose instructions were especially clear as he went to the trouble of telling them what he was not saying to them as well as what he was saying to them. Once or twice, the Belgians, like tourists who have accidentally strayed into Cornwall, not realising it is the property of His Royal Highness Prince Charles, found themselves trespassing cluelessly in the English half. They were quickly seen off, however, and it is a measure of the understanding between Joe Hart and the men in front of him that he and Gary Cahill only collided once, and at the mere expense of a broken jaw. Like Seppings, however, who suffered similarly after I set about him with that shovel, but who an hour later was serving me High Tea, Mr Cahill will, no doubt, be back in harness for the next game. We are not crying Belgian homosexuals, for whom oral pleasure is paramount.

England were swiftly a goal to the good, thanks to one Danny Wellbeck, who showed the sort of discipline and composure that made one realise that all of King Leopold’s work had not been in vain as he slipped it past Maigret, or Camus, or whomsoever was keeping goal for the Belgians.
Come the second half and England continued to dominate possession. Granted, it was Belgium who were in possession of the ball, but it was England who were in possession of Wembley Stadium. The opposing team knew that were they to encroach in the vicinity of the goal, England groundsman Mr Roy Hodgson would come striding onto the pitch brandishing a trowel and shouting, “Hoy! Keep orf. I’ve only just reseeded that perishin’ six yard box!” Steven Gerrard rolled back the years with his indefatigable play, passing and hoofing the ball like a twelve year old. James Milner once again showed that when a shirt has the name “MILNER” on it, he is the man to step up and fill that shirt. I can think of no higher tribute to pay to the man. An actual Ox might have been of more practical use on the pitch than Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but not much more, such was his contribution. Theo Walcott, watching the game from afar, and doubtless “tweeting” as he did so, must have wished he had been out there and actually involved in the game.

Another famous victory, then, a Jubilee reminder that Hereditary Privilege is the just and sensible way to run a country, the sole alternative being Chairman Skinner. As I asked Seppings repeatedly several times as I thrashed him, “Is that what you want? Is that you want? This is just a bit of ruddy fun and is that what you want?” There was no querying that the ball for England’s decisive goal was over the line, but had there been any doubt, the expedient of video-tronic evidence was at hand, an experiment introduced for this fixture. Really, there was no need for this – the ultimate goal-line technology, as we know, is the word of an Englishman. The referee and linesman understood this well enough in 1966, it should be understood today.

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