May 29th, 2013

England v Republic of Ireland (friendly, 2013)


There is a great deal of balderdash spoken about the Irish, a nation of stinted, skirling mud-dwellers, whose closest biological relation, studies have shown, is not other human beings, but turf. It is said that they are exceedingly stupid. To divert briefly into the humorous, one recalls the joke about the Englishman, Irishman and Scotchman who shared a railway carriage. As the locomotive drew away from the platform, they were joined by a clergyman who asked them if this was the train to Devon. The Englishman, who was a little hard of hearing, said “the way to Heaven? I should have thought, sir, that that is a question we should be putting to you!” The Scotchman said, “I’d share ma’ whisky with you but I’m too bloody mean,” and headbutted the man of the cloth. Finally, the Irishman writhed around on the carriage floor, drooling, incapable of sentience and basic motor skills.

Although aspects of the above are clearly absurd – what on earth would an Englishman be doing in a carriage with an Irishman and a Scotchman? – we laugh at such jokes because they contain a large element of truth. However, the whole truth about the Irish is that they are both exceedingly stupid and deviously cunning. That one completely contradicts the other is of no matter to these unscrupulous people who in any case, being Kerrymen and so forth, have no idea what a “contradiction” is.

Some facts about our opponents on the field of  play, upon which England, of course, had their work cut out, as the Irish, green of face as well as shirt, blend invisibly into the background, making it appear as if England are playing no kind of opposition at all.

OWING to their ingrained obtusenesss and indifference to literacy, Irish words as written bear no relationship to how they are pronounced. “Sinn Fein” is pronounced as “Seinfeld”, while “Taoiseach” is, in reality, pronounced as “Spotted dick”.

ASSOCIATION football is not the most popular sport in Eire. More preferred pastimes include hurling, heaving, headstick, shintlock, Gaelic rules field draining, hogtrotting, stonebreeding and pony rendering.

VISITING an Irish village, and stopping at an inn for a beverage, you will be surprised at how deserted the place is. “What?”, you might chortle to yourself. “Have the damned fools run out of potatoes yet again?” However, an Irishman will soon appear – he will be wearing a felt Guinness hat and running at great speed, chased by a wild horse down the main street and shouting “Oi’m not bitter!”

ALTHOUGH very active in the lower limbs, the Irish are reluctant to have their arms leave their sides at any time. This has not only made for some exceptionally poor goalkeeping performances in past World Cup tournaments but also has had a deleterious educational effect, with Irish pupils utterly unwilling to raise their hands to answer questions in class. “Now, children, who can give me the names of twelve 19th century British Prime Ministers. Anyone? Fergus? Seamus? No one?”

CORPORATION tax in Eire is absurdly high. Set up shop in the country with some enterprising little concern – ARMS “R” US, perhaps, or OMNIMEGACORP (We Sell Everything – There Is No Alternative) and some impertinent little fellow in a green bowler hat is liable to send you an annual tax bill for anything up to five British shillings, or three sacks of potatoes, the local currency equivalent.

IF you stand on the rooftop of your house in Ireland, you can see across three counties. This is certainly true of myself and my own, Irish property, loath as I naturally am to visit it. For “three counties”, read “my back garden”.

There are redeeming features in the Irish, of course. Their church instils in their children the sort of fear of authority, benevolent or otherwise, which I have always striven to instil in my manservant Seppings. Moreover, while some criticised the Irish embassy in Bonn for sending a message of condolence to Germany following the death of Adolf Hitler, I, for one, considered it a sportsmanlike gesture to a worthy, fallen adversary which our own Mr Churchill would have done well to emulate.

Such were our benighted foes this evening, their child-frightening faces to a man fashioned by some pagan God more accustomed to making pewter jugs. The national anthems were at once the measure of the disparity between the nations far wider than any channel. Our own was yodelled with such lusty sincerity it is no wonder some of our players showed early signs of total exhaustion having rendered it. The Irish shambles, meanwhile, insufficiently booed, with its risible pretensions of nationhood commenced like some ramshackle brass band unaccustomed to playing instruments while standing on two legs, setting out to emulate the German national anthem but losing their way and wandering into the sea. There were a few chants of “No surrender to the IRA”, thankfully, for surrender to them we shall not. Nor Socialists like Michael Foot and Barbara Castle, or the Boers or the Prussians, for that matter.

The game began at a terrific pelt, the referee keeping a close eye on the Irish players lest they steal any of the Wembley turf, the English cocks thrusting forward in numbers. Every man jack in a white shirt gave 110% – 100% for club, 10% for country but this was no night to quibble about statistics. The Irish players looked on Wayne Rooney with envy. He physically embodied all that they were missing, particularly back in the 19th century during the Famine. Michael Carrick was barely noticeable and did nothing of any use whatsoever but that is often the sign of a great player, certainly an English one. Glenn Johnson was a brick in defence, and took to his duties like a brick to water. Rumours that Jermain Defoe was playing doubtless caused panic among the Irish defence. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain showed, time and again that there is no player more almost useful than he.

The Irish, meanwhile, capered randomly about the pitch like leprechauns in frantic search of an enchanted fiddle they had lost, in fear of a spanking from the Chief Gnome and being sent to bed without any peat potage. Amusingly, the ball bounced off the head of their forward, one Shane Long and into the net but this was quite clearly so contrary to his expectations it could not be counted as a goal. The insolent troglodyte, however, failed to apologise for his error to the England goalkeeper. Happily, Frank Lampard restored parity and sanity from close range, sending a clear message to Dublin that their brief time as a rogue nation was up; time to return to the commonwealth kennels, or face certain consequences of which more later.

Come the second half and England were bolstered by the presence of Leyton Buzzard at left back, who resembled little so much as a member of the English “mod” group the Leighton Baines – and  Phil Jones, showing every sign of becoming the greatest player earth has ever known. Sure enough, he rampaged up and down the pitch like a farmhand chasing a pig through a turnip field that has made off with his sandwich, oinking triumphantly. And so, with England pranging the Irish defence like fellows of one of the more prestigious Oxford clubs pinging coins at a little fellow in green braces dancing a jig and blowing on a tin whistle for pennies, the too-merciful referee called a halt to the Gaelic torment. This was the cue for Irish players and fans alike to assemble at the nearest clearing depot for immediate deportation, ferried back by a fleet of barges.

There remains just one further order of business. Since the Irish have dared, once again to pit themselves against the realm and yet loiter parasitically on the doorstep of the British Isles, the time has come for them to truly be cut loose. I propose special forces, trained in the latest “fracking’ techniques, sent out to drill away at the foundations of Southern Ireland, in order to detach it from the earth’s core and free-float to Europe, where it apparently feels so much more at home. I envisage them drifting up and around the Iberian peninsula as if on a giant raft, shouting forlornly, “Pegs! Tarmac! Old Eurovision Song Contest songs!” to no avail. Such was the folly of 1922…

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