Being a series of reflections from the patriotic perspective on England’s recent performances and the preceding friendlies; by the “Wing Commander”. See previous reports by scrolling down links.

Wednesday, 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.

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

England v Sweden (friendly, 2011)


As Seppings informs me, passing the finger around the inside of his collar in that queerly nervous manner of his as he does so, the Sports Department of the Daily Telegraph continue to be engaged in industrial action against their employers, a long-running saga that stretches back decades; this is why, as regular Telegraph readers will be aware, no coverage of international association football has appeared in the paper since 1966. Why they continue to print editions as if the back section has been hastily cut out with a pair of scissors I have no idea, but such is the condition of the journal when presented to me on my platter each morning by my faithful retainer.

I have therefore no recourse, no archive from which to draw in order to revel, in detail, in our many, glorious victories against the Swedes these past few decades. They can exist, therefore, only in the imagination. Our excellent record against these Scandinavians is no surprise, for we, as a nation, are significantly more battle-hardened than they, with two successful world wars under our belt. The Swedes, by contrast, opted for “neutrality” in the last campaign. This is a stain on their manhood, for which, under the terms of the 1945 armistice, their men of fighting age should have been obliged to go about in dresses, frilly petticoats and second-hand floppy hats cast off by the ladies of Ascot, until further notice. As ever, sadly, excessive leniency carried the day.

It is not that the Swedes would be much use in the war; one might as well carry into battle actual swedes and hurled them at oncoming Panzer tanks. It galls, however, as each Remembrance Day passes, to think what such a ceremony would be like in Stockholm. For it is known that they sustained a single casualty in World War II; an unemployed trawlerman who out of curiosity, put out to water in order to have a closer look at what the fighting, only to be upended by a passing German submarine. Other nations have their Tombs to the Unknown Soldier; Sweden would have its own to the All Too Well Known Civilian – Olaf, justifiably known to one and all in Stockholm as the town cretin.

It was against such a race of Nordic n’er-do-wells (especially not against England) that our bulldogs were pitted this evening. The National Anthems told their usual tale of gross disparity. Our own was belted out with customary gusto and precise diction by every man jack of our players as the camera passed down the line; lip-reading John Terry on the television set, it was perfectly obvious what words were coming out of his mouth. As for the Swedes, their own, self-defeating, ponderous dirge, a sort of musical retreat from Moscow, was about as uplifting as a four hour black and white film set on a small island outside Stockholm about a depressed man, a blonde girl and an imaginary spider in which car chases figure not at all.

The game began at a swift pelt, on England’s part at any rate. The Swedes, whose singular shirts in part made up for the failure of the 1945 armistice, seemed somewhat distracted, staring at their own goalmouth as if still astonished that they hadn’t been required to assemble their goalposts themselves with an allen key from a flatpack bearing the word PNARKK. Their “star” player was one Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a galumphing, overrated, ineffectual Northern European oaf, who as such looked quite of place on an English football field.

Quite unlike our own boys; Theo Walcott looked lively as ever, though given that he is not yet at an age where he can take a driving test, it was wise of his colleagues not to entrust him with the ball. Phil Jones made his customary surging runs forward, with all the restraint and composure of a young farmhand being pursued downhill by his own, runaway tractor and faced with the imminent prospect of having to hurl himself over a dry stone wall into a pigsty. Frank Lampard, it eventually became evident, was not playing, but glancing around the stadium, you sensed what he brings to the team. Those were not empty seats; they were occupied by the spirit of Frank Lampard. Certain aspects of our play could be described as “agricultural”, but given that we are the country that gave agriculture to the world, back in the early 20th century, as countless black and white photographs attest, this was quite in order.

Our effortless efforts were crowned, naturally with a goal. Gareth Barry met an incoming cross with a facial expression that in no way resembled that of an urchin bracing himself for a slap on the head from a schoolmaster and dispatched the ball into the net in precise accordance with his expectations.

Come the second half, and England were so in control they could afford to replace their keeper with the noted European historian Timothy Garton Ash. Despite frequent invitations from our defence to let them show what they were made of in front of goal, the spirit of neutrality ran through their veins like custard. Meanwhile, at the other end, a special word must be accorded to Bobby Zamora, whose performance in an England shirt drew many a gasp; “Bobby Zamora? England??” Pay no heed to his hue; he is veritably the “British Bobby”, with all the attendant competence that entails, patrolling the beat on the forward line, turning up for the ball often within minutes. With the Wembley nets under strain from having been called into action twice in four days, it was considerate of him, in these straitened times, not to put them under any further wear and tear, even though at times to do so would have been easier than shooting a fucking dead elephant in the fucking arse with a fucking blunderbuss from fucking point blank fucking range.

Yet another win against opponents whose warrior pre-eminence has long since joined their ancestors in Valhalla. However, the last word should go to Mr Roy Keane, who, when considering the natural impediment of his nationality, is emerging as one of the more intelligent commentators on the Commercial Broadcasting Channel. “There’s been a lot of nonsense written about John Terry”, he opined, this night. Quite so. A lot of nonsense indeed. That what has been written about him is a series of factual, verified and well-documented incidents involving his person does not make it any the less nonsense. It is a nonsense that such things are factually true about an English footballer, one which calls the very concept of the Fact itself into question.

Monday, October 10th, 2011

England v Montenegro (Euro 2012 qualifier, 2011)


And so, it has been confirmed even to the satisfaction of the pedantic, blazered gnomes of UEFA that England are natural qualifiers for Euro 2012. It has been a prolonged, calculated insult to our Queen and her English ancestors that we have been made to submit to the indignity of these qualifiers. Our word as gentlemen that we were more than fit to take our due part in these finals should have been more than adequate. Unconscionably, it was doubted. We have had applied to us, to the letter, the terms of what is a Bounder’s Charter devised by mountebanks of the lowest stripe. We are quietly fuming. Cities have fallen under our cannon’s blaze for lesser slights in past, better centuries.

To Montenegro, then, a nation whose population amounts to 3.6 million, if you include the goats, which we see no reason not to. Their very existence as an independent state is, of course, a quaint absurdity, not unlike Rutland declaring sovereignty, the local bank manager appointing a cabinet and the snooty middle aged lady who runs the High Street hairdressers declaring herself Queen. Tonight’s victory should clear the way for the United Nations to act swiftly and decisively in reimposing unification on the Balkan region, so as to banish the current confusion as to which of them is which an why the devil we should care.

(Incidentally, had I been listened to in 1945, this whole absurd situation need never have arisen. There was talk of the displaced Hebrews of Europe being allowed their own, traditional homeland.  As senior consultant to the Civil Service Department of World Affairs, I recommended that this wandering people be placed somewhere we could keep an eye on them, en masse to the Balkans, with the present inhabitants dispersed and shooed away to its peripheries, encouraged by sweeping machine gunfire. I proposed that the new region be called Jewgoslavia. I was narrowly outvoted, 17-19. Hence our present, disastrous predicament)

The National Anthems, as they rang it on this oversized turf-sty of a stadium, marked the disparity between the teams, the peoples, the species pitted against one another. Our own, as ever, obliged the cameraman to pan above waist length along the England line, lest younger viewers be disconcerted by their 11 man shorts salute. The Montenegroids, by contrast, sounded like the mass, ritual suicide march of an entire population into the sea, upon news of a poor national crop yield following the breakdown of the tractor.

The game commenced at a brisk clip, the opposition scattered like scarved old women knocking over boiling pots of the soup in which minutes earlier they were washing their menfolks’ clothes as the English cavalry advanced, brandishing flaming torches and cutlasses. In a trice, England were 2-0 up, the second goal from Darren Bent in particular dispatched with the formal ease of an old retainer handing on a tray to the plantation owner a note from the British Governor presenting his compliments. Towards the end of the half, the ball did somehow bobble off one of the Montenegroids into the England net. Joe Hart could have stopped it, but as England goalkeeper he has more important things on his mind, and whatever it was, we can be sure, was of greater urgency than scampering after stray balls like some dog in the park.

Come the second half, and England decided to have some sport of their own. It has been noticed that our mascot, Sig Capello, has rather “gone native” and over-involved himself in England’s games. He has a habit of panicking and jumping up and down helplessly on the touchline whenever he mistakenly worries that England do not have matters on the field under 100% control. For their amusement, therefore, England’s players decided to ping the ball about as if having been plugged collectively into some sort of computerised Random Shit Pass Fucking Generator, which could be patented and marketed as Footbollocks by some enterprising entrepreneur. Ashley Cole in particular provided a master study in mystifyingly offhand uselessness; he should consider the stage. Sig Capello duly looked as comical as an Italian who has accidentally boiled himself in his own spaghetti and is thrashing about helplessly in the pot.

Late on, as Frank Lampard entered the field of play. There are times when a player must make the fine judgement as to whether make a difference or make no difference. When things are going well, as they always are England, it is judicious not to risk “spoiling the broth”. Hence, Lampard wisely decided, master chef of English footballing cuisine that he is, to make no difference. Whatsoever.

The sending off of Wayne Rooney marred the remaining few minutes of the game, though it remains unfathomable as to why he was dismissed, having viewed the clip of the incident that evidently led to the red card several times over. Was it a case of mistaken identity, brought on my his follicular surgery? I can only surmise that the referee, Wolfgang Stark, who judging by his name is doubtless genetically predisposed to raising his arm upward in a rigid and diagonal position at any given moment, did so, and accidentally whisked up his red card from is pocket with his fingers. Unless it is suddenly a red card offence to kick a peasant’s legs violently from underneath him when he proves mildly vexatious, then I can see no reason for the adjudication.

Small matter; England carried the day as naturally as if it were a burden, and they a white man. So, let us examine in detail, then dismiss with  light laugh, our probable opponents.

A nation whose football scientists are on the point of discovering a scoreline lower than 0-0. A nation slowly sinking into the sea under the burden of national debt, its ancient ruins and the generations of bodies of menfolk in caps, collarless shirts and braces buried in the topsoil and beneath the foundations of motorway bridges. All that will be left of visible of Italy by the year 2012 will be the top 35 feet of Mount Etna.

No one knows better than the French that it is a long way back from Moscow; it is barely any less so from the Ukraine. Expect their handbagged women to be throwing stilettoes at one another in the dressing room after a catastrophic humiliation in the opening game, the like of which  has become their staple addition to the gaiety of nations. They can kiss their chances goodbye; and their chances will duly be covered in rouge lipstick traces.

Expect England’s seafaring Jack Tars to ram the Spanish Armada amidships where it hurts, with a mighty oak thrust. Patient passing game, forsooth! There’s only one way to win a game of football; by roaring, galloping, hoofing and barging; and that is merely yourself, at home, watching on the television set, with your manservant dressed in the opposing team’s colours and justly enduring the robust physical treatment you mete out to him.

The Third Reich. Germany will, as ever be ruthless, well-drilled, more machine than man, blonde and joyless. The Luftwaffe. Expect them to be formidable opponents, laid low only by their gimlet myopia and inability to cope with the cheerful obduracy of Tommy Atkins. Josef Goebbels.

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.