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.

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

England v Switzerland (Euro 2012 qualifier, 2011)


It has been frequently and justly complained that England have been placed in an exceptionally difficult qualification group for Euro 2012. That we are asked to play qualifiers at all is, of course, a calculated insult, not least coming from certain nations into the seats of whose trousers we sank our bulldog teeth and hauled them out of World War II just a few short decades ago. But we find ourselves pitted against the likes of Montenegro, fresh, young nations who, unlike England are not battle-weary from centuries of armed conflict to defend Civilisation against the Goths, Gauls and their swarthy variants. Small wonder there were signs of fatigue among our eleven Knights of the Turf as yesterday’s contest drew to a close. We’ve been at it from about 1066 onwards.

Switzerland, of course, are not a young nation. Were they not obliged by international law to enter Euro 2012 they would almost certainly opt to sit it out, and go back to their usual pastime of fashioning cowbells from Goebbels’s bullion. Slice a Swiss open and the word “NEUTRALITY” runs through him like the icing in a roll. However, enter the tourney they must, and so their FA (two old men in Alpine hats) scoured the cantons for suitable men, doubtless resorting to commandeering the Guard in the Vatican City, leaving His Holiness at the mercy of terror attacks from Mr Richard Dawkins. And so it was that they took to the Wembley field, quaking fretfully like callow young squires entering the tilt yard with Toblerones for lances to joust against far mightier foes.

The National Anthems were the measure of the disparity of the nations, one a nuclear power, the other whose defensive arsenal consists of implements only brought into requisition when the potato peeler has been misplaced. Our men boomed out our own with such Gregorian gusto that the Queen could not be safer in God’s hands than were he an English goal keeper defending a set piece. As for the opposition’s anthem, the “Swiss Psalm”, well, they should have had a goal awarded against them for that blasphemy alone but the referee was from Slovenia, whose notion of God is a man with a goat’s head allegedly spotted in the forest in 1373, so we could expect no theological rationale from him. The “Psalm” was rendered forlornly, parped out as if on a long horn to call the St Bernards back to their kennels at 6pm, that being bedtime in Switzerland as by that point, the nation has run out of things to do.

The game started at a blistering pelt, with the Men in White sweeping forward in wave after wave. In the opening 30 minutes, it could be said of England that they played with all the raw enthusiasm of a group of teachers unexpectedly asked to stay behind and work late on the last Friday afternoon before Summer holidays for the honour of the school. Scott Parker was particularly impressive; it was good indeed to see 1960s London gangland represented in the line-up, the era to which Parker so clearly belongs. They say of them that the only harm they did was to their own, and his backpassing certainly kept up that tradition. Theo “The First Ten Minutes” Walcott presented a constant threat, right up until the very point at which he did not. Meanwhile, rumours that Frank Lampard was playing spread like wildfire through the ranks, only serving to boost morale further. His presence was  confirmed when he stepped up to blast home a penalty, when England at last breached the Swiss defence, which, consisting as it did primarily of Arsenal and ex-Arsenal players, had remained hitherto churlishly and obdurately watertight. The sneaky Swiss strategy – score two quick goals from set-pieces having spent decades building up a deceptive reputation for incompetence outside the penalty box – was already coming undone.

Thereafter, it was all England. James Milner refuted amply that he might as well have been replaced by a fucking brick, because at least a fucking brick stays in a fucking wall, setting up Ashley Young for a fine goal, arrowed low and true into the wretched Swiss net. Then, cometh the moment, cometh Darren Bent. Names can be deceptive. Bent, although admittedly negro, is neither a victim, nor indeed a perpetrator of homosexualism. And, as the ball bounced back to him, feeling as safe as the child of William Tell as he shaped up and took his time to shoot, I took the opportunity to visit the latrine, in absolutely confidence that the ball was heading goalward. I asked Seppings to describe the net-busting event on my return. The fellow merely turned pale and gulped. His queer behaviour persisted this morning, when I caught him burning the sports section of my Sunday Telegraph in a brazier. As I set about him with my riding crop, it occurred to me that the fellow could do with taking a lengthy vacation, perhaps extended to a full hour. Out of the question, of course.

So panicked were the Swiss in the last 20 minutes of being further punished, they retained possession almost constantly in a cowardly fashion that was in marked contrast to England’s own attitude to the ball; it must be got rid of at the earliest opportunity, riddled as it is with foreign foot-germs. John Terry, England’s most pulsating and erect member, is the exemplar of this.

Another English triumph, and one which surely scotches the question, increasingly asked, as to whether England should appoint a manager. We need not. A licensed, jabbering fool gesticulating on the touchline like a baboon on a hot plate is all that we need. Certainly, any manager must be English, as indeed, the Swiss acknowledge, being themselves managed, it would appear, by Dr David Owen.

This was a triumph, too, against the the citadel of FIFA, whom the English FA so successfully faced down just last week. A return to the old order at FIFA is as surely desirable as it is imminent. The Third World, like an errant child needs to feel against its collective, tanned handquarters the bracing thwack of benevolent paternalism. We need to rid ourselves of the greasy corruption of the present, ill-advised administration and return to the old, Rousian order. This means;

AFRICAN nations only admitted to the World Cup upon forfeiture of their mineral deposits with the UK treasury. Compulsory exit of African nations before the knockout stages, so that their peoples can get back to work in their fields and mines undistracted.

BRAZIL to play in bare feet, as playing in boots gives them an unfair advantage.

THE WOMEN’S WORLD CUP not to be played by ladies in shorter shorts, as espoused by the pervert Blatter. Rather, they should play in petticoats, whalebone girdles, full-length ankle dresses, bonnets and carrying parasols at all times.

ASIAN teams to play blindfolded. As things stand, it is impossible for us to see the whites of their eyes as we advance on them, giving them another unfair advantage.

ENGLAND to play Germany in every World Cup Final. The match to be filmed in black and white. The match to be replayed if it does not accord with the wider truths of 20th century military history.

MYSELF to be elected President of FIFA, with Seppings as my Vice-President, Treasurer and head of the Ethics Committee.

Only through the immediate implementation of these measures can the sanity of yore be restored to world football.

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

England v Ghana (friendly, 2011)


Students of British and military colonial history will be enthralled to learn that I was one of the leading participants in the Ashanti-British war of 1900-01, in which the British, as ever, prevailed. It was there that I first took Seppings into my employ. I honoured him with the task of being personal bearer of my chamberpot, as the latrines of West Africa were legendarily rank and no place for the repose of the hindquarters of a distinguished officer and gentleman.

The pot, fired under my personal supervision in one of Stoke-On-Trent’s most prestigious kilns, was generous in its dimensions and it was Seppings’s task to run alongside myself and my mount throughout the campaign, bearing the mobile porcelain convenience on his head. Unhappily, on the first day of battle, the pot was holed by a stray bullet from the dusky foe. However, we English are made of stern stuff. I continued to avail of the pot, and Seppings continued to be its bearer, my waste products, liquid and solid, leaking and trickling constantly down his face as he ran at my side. For here, in a nutshell, is the relationship between English master and underling as it has stood for centuries. How we must have confounded the enemy.

The opposition that day, while exuberant in the frontline, dancing and chanting wantonly, showed great defence lapses, and, of course, tactical naivety. So it was in 1901, so it was this evening. It was tactically naïve of these Africans to have agreed to this footballing fixture at all, in which they were sure to suffer a heavy defeat, one which would have them hammering desperately on the doors of the Commonwealth in a manner reminiscent of the American cartoon character Frederick Flintstone,  begging for re-admittance.  For it was the folly of The Gold Coast to declare itself independent in 1957, an act of treachery – for the very language of that name, English, tells us to whom all that gold logically belonged. Instead, they recast themselves with not so much of a nomenclature as a noise: Ghana. Their first bungle, as I understand it, was to reject the Gold Standard in favour of the Cocoa Bean Standard; their history has been ruinous ever since.

There was a delay prior to the Ghanaians entering the tunnel, as they underwent their pre-match, chants, prayers and rituals, one of which no doubt included selecting a member of their team to be sacrificed in order to propitiate their straw and bamboo stick god. Judging by England’s sallies in the first half, this was presumably their left back.

The national anthems showed the humiliatingly vast differences in our nations and cultures. Our own, rendered by the straight-backed flower of our youth sang aloud of the joy it is to be alive, free and English, pulsing with the rhythms of a Sergeant Major bristling and striding slowly up and down the line during a close inspection of the ranks. The Ghanaians’ effort, by contrast, sounded like it had been improvised at the last minute on a handful of dustbin lids on the eve of Independence, which the hapless protectorate must surely have assumed would most likely be vetoed by the Duke of Edinburgh.

The game began with the opposition querulous and agitated but with the English following the example of their pith-helmeted ancestors and firing very high into the air by way of a warning. One does not wish to be “prejudiced” against the Ghanaians – one gives them every chance. But when they send out onto the field a team composed entirely of negroes it merely confirms what many of us had long suspected of them.

What most took their eye, upon my word, was their insolence. There were moments when the home team, quite understandably, stood on aghast as the Ghanaians enjoyed passages of dominance in possession. It was, quite absurdly, as if they, not the English, were wearing the monocles. They compounded their impertinence by making sallies deep into the English domain, approaching closer than any African would have dared in decades back unless carrying a tray bearing a brandy and soda siphon. Their audacity in presuming parity quite took the breath. England were required to fire further shots high into the air.

Fortunately, sanity was restored as Andy Carroll, a fellow who epitomises all the virtues of the modern day Englishman, arrowed home sure and true from the edge of the box. As Conrad might have remarked, had he had the nuanced wit to do so in Heart Of Darkness, this was boiled beef as opposed to boiled missionary. That Mr Carroll pushed over a Ghanaian defender as he positioned to score might be construed by the mewling, pansied do-gooder brigade as “technically a foul”. However, the African fellow was clearly loafing and loitering with no good reason, as his type are wont to. Carroll was as within his rights to push him over as he would have been had he come upon him standing alone on a street corner. In those circumstances, he would have been preventing a certain street robbery; in these, he was preventing England being robbed of a just goal.

Come the second half and England continued to shine. Joleon Lescott was a man who is clearly well used to playing with fire, and did so on many occasions this evening. The aforementioned Andy Carroll demonstrated a touch as sure and formidable as that of an oil tanker guiding a bobbing ping pong ball safely back to shore. It was once again made abundantly clear how necessary a part of the England line-up Frank Lampard is. Mascot Sgnr Capello gawped blankly at events, with no clue as to what was going on, no idea why his handlers had knocked on his caravan door and brought him  out to a football stadium for the second time in just four days.

As for the Ghanaians, they merely amused. First, there is John Pantsil who undoubtedly has no idea why all Englishmen and true laugh heartily every time his name is mentioned. It all reminds me of a fellow, another African, as it turns out, whom we employed in some menial wallah capacity during one of my colonial stints. Queer name, like a lot of his sort. Combinations Mzwele, he was called. We used to call him to the mess every night solely to guffaw in his face for fully 30 minutes. He had no inkling why. It turned out, by the by, that his name actually wasn’t Combinations at all. It was Moses. But of course, there’s nothing funny about the names Moses. Which is why I expect one of the officers called him Combinations instead. Rough, English, good-humoured logic at work in the field.

There was also a diversion extremely late on when their Number Three found himself, to his shock and panic, with the ball at his feet at the edge of the England penalty box. As jolly English defenders chuckled at his predicament, he tripped over his feet, swung and flailed and eventually hoofed at the ball, with hilarious consequences – the ball landed inadvertently in the England net. Of course, since the whole thing was a bizarre accident, and the English defence quite obviously would have seen off any seriously intended attempt at goal, it will undoubtedly be stricken from the record.

A fine and instructive occasion, marred only by the attitude of the disquietingly numerous Ghanaian supporters – even when facing defeat they continued to wave, dance and cheer, quite oblivious to the humiliation the faced as a team, a nation, a people, a continent, a hemisphere. This was quite garishly improper. They should take a leaf from the English supporter who in turn draws upon nature. Consider the potato. Then enlarge that potato in your mind and pull an ill-fitting replica white shirt over it. Then sit the potato in the stands and look on as it chews gum fast and stares with passionless, disgruntled sultana eyes on the field of play, occasionally shouting. “Cut it back – CUT IT BACK – FACK! WORK – CHANNEL! LEFT CHANNEL! GET RID! FACK!” The Ghanaians are aeons away from such an evolved state of spectating. And sadly, as any competent phrenologist would confirm, they are impervious to the English example.

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

England v Wales (Euro 2012 qualifier, 2011)


At my old prep school in Chichester, as part of our arithmetic studies, all boys were set the following conundrum. “If an Englishman is worth 12 Frenchmen but only three Germans, how many Welshmen is he worth?” It was, as the more astute reader will have already divined, a trick question. For the Welsh, of course, are not men. Those who have railed against the Welsh have, in the past, been accused of “racialism”. However, to distinguish between ourselves and the Welsh is more a form of species-ism – like the difference between man and duck. Yet even that is to flatter the Welsh. For animals have a variety of uses which the Welsh do not. Animals can be kept as domestic pets. The Welsh cannot be thus housetrained. Ask them to “sit” and they merely stare at you balefully; throw a stick in the park and, far from racing off after it, they will simply gawp at you with a sort of dumbfounded indignation, bordering on insolence. This, I should say, is based on my own, first hand dealings with the Welsh.

Moreover, unlike animals, the Welsh are inedible. I have not tried them myself but my friend Aspinall has and he describes them as obnoxiously pungent on the palate, though his portion may have been overcooked. Their sole value, so far as I can see, is as a living example of the Pre-Dawn of Man. The features of Gareth Bale, for example, are a Pitt Rivers museum in themselves, a fascinating study of the crude prototypes of man that existed over half a million years ago, before he discovered fire, the wheel and how to use his own thumbs.

It was against these creatures that England’s doughty nobles were ranged on the field of play this day. It is yet another indictment of UEFA’s absurdly inclusive policy. The Welsh? Who shall we play next, the Picts? But there it was. England were not just representing their country, Her Majesty, or her son, whom she put in charge of the Welsh in order to give him something to do. England were representing homo sapiens as a whole.

The National Anthems showed the difference between the two nations, were the true measure of whose knuckles were closer to the ground. Our own soared like a mighty eagle across the Welsh skies, casting a gimlet, withering eye on the pockmarked landscape below, defecating from aloft in contempt. The Welsh anthem, by contrast, dragged interminably, like a visit to one of the country’s heritage sites on a rainy, August afternoon to be informed about The Many Uses Of Slate (in North Wales, it is considered a sandwich filling).

The game was only a few minutes old before it became abundantly clear that this would have been a good opportunity to give our schoolgirl XI a run-out. England ran through the foe at will, despite an early, unpunished attempt at anal sex on Ashley Cole in the first few minutes, which might have been canine over-enthusiasm on the opposition’s part. The Welsh struggled to acquire the ball, like a language in desperate search of a vowel before its speakers run out of phlegm, but to no avail. Our beefeater midfield held firm.

Despite almost certainly being extremely closely related, the Welsh defence were an ill-co-ordinated bunch. But then, a Welshman playing football is, as Dr Johnson said, like a woman walking on its hind legs – inherently absurd. There are traditionally but two stark choices facing the young Welshman as he stands on the threshold of adult life. Go down the mines – or join the “New Romantic” movement. Either way, your face will be plastered in black. The third choice of association football is simply and evidently not an option, certainly not in a country with such an unstable and uneven landscape. You can’t walk five yards without encountering an enormous hill; sneeze, meanwhile, and you are liable to precipitate a mining disaster.

England were two to the good at half time, with the Welsh failing even to register a shot on goal. Were they fusiliers, they would be court-martialled and shot themselves for utter cowardice, though it would fall to representatives of another nation to take aim at them. As for England, they were the footballing equivalent of Scott Parker’s hair. Dawson was like a stick of rock at the back, Lampard was much praised by all who saw him on the pitch, Glenn Johnson had a braided air of nauseatingly smug self-satisfaction which he has fully earned with his career performances thus far, while Jack Wilshere represented the durably, flinty spirit of English yeomanry, falling over and writhing in tearful agony only twelve times. Rooney’s ability to take up space seems to increase with each passing game.

The sole entertainment of the second half was when a dog came onto the pitch and began running around, to the befuddlement of the English midfield and defence. Eventually, however, the referee soon put a stop to its antics (the creature’s name was Bellamy) and even brandished a yellow card at the hound for excessive yapping.

An effortless victory, then, and affirmation of evolutionary history as it stands. England stand erectus once more, the Welsh considerably less so. In fairness, their confusion in front of goal is explicable, as any goals scored by the Welsh would have counted for the English in any case, lacking as they do any autonomy, being ought but the place where we keep our cottages.

However, there was a burning talking point which preceded the game – the question of the England captaincy. This, of course, is a vital role, far too important to be put to a democratic vote, unlike the relatively trifling matter of who should be Prime Minister. The England Captain, in the erectness of his carriage, the blood in his brains, the contour of his bare thighs must be the bodily epitome of This England. Hence, God himself appoints the England captain, channelling His guidance through whatever rude vessel He should choose to do so.

In this case, it was mascot Fabio Capello, whose comedy Italian stylings are designed to put the team at ease (“Where is a-da- my hat? Oh here it ees. Oh, no, it is a-da-bucket! Mama mia, now I am a-da-all weet!”) Some have blamed Capello for the handling of his most excellent choice but they do not realise that he was being guided in his movements by the Almighty, moving in mysterious ways. As he announced to the press “I reappoint John Terry”, he would have no control over the utterance – it was as if his mouth were operating independently of the rest of his face. As someone who suffers a similar affliction himself, one would have thought that Rio Ferdinand would have understood this.

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

England v France (friendly, 2010)


Today, I fired Seppings 21 times out of the ancestral cannon on my grounds in celebration. This was not in anticipation of the kicking we were due to deliver to the French this evening, which would propel their spines through their berets if only the French were in possession of spines. It was because of the formal announcement of the engagement of Prince William and his fiancee, Miss Kate Middleton, which has prompted the incessant ringing of church bells in every village and hamlet across the Kingdom since the news became public. This is an affirmation of all that this sceptr’d isle represents; heterosexuality, monarchy, golden carriages, souvenir mugs and a welcome distraction from other news which, were the grimy herd to comprehend it might provoke restiveness (Coalition plans to declare South Yorkshire a slave colony from 2012 onwards, for instance, which has raised barely a murmur in the general cheer at a prospective Royal Wedding).

Contrast this celebration of Holy Matrimony with the odious, oily cur across the too-narrow band of water to our right. This is a country where infidelity is not only regarded with insouciance but nowadays considered institutional. When filling in French tax forms, for example, not only is  “Name Of Wife” required to be filled in but also “Name Of Mistress.” There has been consternation, naturally, about plans for England and France to share defence strategy and facilities, including nuclear tests. What this will mean in practice, as the French will discover to their chagrin, is that England has simply acquired new territories on which to give Trident a run-out, the occasional spot check to see that it is still in Bristol fashion. When France wakes up one morning and realises that Marseilles has been reduced to a wide, charred radius, they will wish they had taken the time to read the fine print of the agreement a little more carefully.

The National Anthems tonight showed the gap between John Bull and his motley opposition of Gitanes sucking, table waiting street urinators. Our own was rendered with customary gusto, so much so that you expected the very Heavens to open at any point and a man with a white beard to appear in the sky saying, “All right, all right! I’ll save her. Whatever Rio mumbles, I’ll do it.” As for the French anthem, it had all the forlornness of a white handkerchief being raised on the end of a stale French loaf from a makeshift trench, as members of the Hitler Youth German bicycle battalion (Soprano Division) looked down with bayonets fixed.

The England line-up contained some unfamiliar names but this was to be expected. As anyone will agree who saw France perform in the recent World Cup, with the sullen reluctance and passive resistance of grown men being made to conform to an EU-imposed bathing regimen, they are a beaten, emasculated nation, who envy the manhood of  the women of their neighbouring countries. It would be an insult to players such as Ashley Cole, John Terry, Wayne Rooney, to ask them to engage in direct foot to foot combat with the French. It would be like asking them to clean the team boots, or load Signor Capello’s luggage onto the coach, or behave like decent fucking human beings with some basic moral responsibility rather than a pack of spoiled, rampant brayhards who regard the world as something to stick their penises into and rut till the sweat trickles down the hairs of their arse crevices.

Small wonder then, that debuts were found for Jordan Henderson, some sort of grocer’s lad by the looks of him, who made himself useful stamping around in midfield making sure that the blades of grass in the centre circle didn’t ride up untidily, and for Andy Carroll, who took full advantage of his first England appearance, and of his height, to check for humiliating bald patches on the heads of the opposing centre backs. No doubt, his aerial reconnaissance reports will make for amusing reading back at the mess.

As for Cardiff’s Jay Bothroyd, his call-up from the championship confirmed that to play for England nowadays is a hard-won honour and not more akin to jury service, something that’s become mandatory for anyone for whom a check with the Birth Register can prove you were born in this country, unless you can find an excuse to oil out of it.

The French were pitifully depleted, so much so that we had to lend them players from our own, English teams such as Chelsea and Arsenal in order to help them make up their numbers. It was a telling indictment of their cowardice that for lengthy periods of the game, they refused to allow England to have the ball, so fearful were they of what they might do should they ever acquire possession of it. England, by contrast, held no such anxieties, which is why they frequently passed the ball straight back to the French – they knew the women-men in blue posed no danger whatsoever.

As for our own men-men, we were thunderously impressive. Adam Johnson certainly doesn’t have all the makings of a prancing, greedy popinjay of the right flank.  Were Jamie Milner to be substituted by a side of beef dangled by steel wires from a low flying helicopter and dragged  around the field randomly, you would surely notice the difference. The operations of England’s defence looked not at all scripted by Messrs Jimmy Perry and David Croft. As for Steven Gerrard, it is no exaggeration, and a tribute to the man, to say that every single thing he did came damned close to working. Our performance was crowned by a quite magnificently taken goal by Peter Crouch, the sunflower of our forward line, who as ever took advantage of the awe of foreign defences at his loftiness – their own countries are incapable of breeding such specimens, stinted as they are by their aversion to such nutritious delicacies as tomato ketchup.

At the end, The French were in curiously celebratory mode, as if they had won some sort of victory. In a sense, they had, for it counted as a victory that they had managed to leave the field with their shorts still on – we had spared them that humiliation at least. As for manager/mascot Capello, he looked grim-faced, as if in defeat, clearly having had no more comprehension of what had just taken place than a cocker spaniel watching a game at the local park. No doubt an FA representative will explain to him precisely what had happened, if there is time. For, having crushed the French like garlic, our next challenge, and here we must do our utmost to muster a straight face, is the Welsh. We shall turn up for the formality, of course, and take to the field but one strongly suspects if we did not, the men of Harlech would find some way of contriving to lose 1-0 courtesy of a late own goal in injury time.

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

England v Montenegro (Euro 2012 qualifier, 2010)


Thrashing Seppings recently for emitting a barely discernible groan when I ordered him to remove orally a secretion of pus from the gout on my big toe (saliva, particularly that of the underbred, has significant disinfectant properties, I believe), the old retainer’s blood spattered across my study, with one fleck landing on the globe that sits atop my desk, alighting, by happy coincidence, upon the insignificant principality of Montenegro, obliterating it from view. English blood would obliterate Montenegro on the field of play this evening, of that there was no doubt. This is a sub-country if ever there was one, an extraneous splinter of Balkan unrest, its people in some instances descended from ruminants, led by a Count, whose most notable item of cuisine is a soup produced by its old men, who stand in the sun for an hour to build up a sweat, then twist their moustaches over a rusty cauldron, before straining and serving.

Such were the mangy forces ranged before England’s bulldogs tonight. However, for all their contemptible Montenegritude, these leathery wretches could not be overestimated. They had a choice of over 620,000 people from whom to pick their players – England, as ever, have about 15, one of whom is Shaun Wright-Phillips. It was Agincourt all over again.

The National Anthems were once again the proof of our mettle. As the camera panned across the England line-up it was as well that it was angled above waist level, in the manner of the gyrating Mr Elvis Presley on the Mr Edward Sullivan show, for not even English shorts could conceal the tumescence of the players as they lustily yodelled their paean of praise to Her Majesty. As for the Montenegrin anthem, it briefly rose to the symphonic crescent of an Old Spice advertisement, before drooping into a defeated torpor.

The match kicked off and such was England’s spunky aplomb, pinging the ball about like Gods toying with orbs in the solar system that it was surely a matter of time before the Montenegrin management emerged from their dugouts, hands above heads or brandishing off-white handkerchieves. England were on fire, quite literally in the case of one Joleon Lescott, who had evidently set his hair alight in the dressing room in order to muster the passion on which England’s game feeds. Ashley Cole worked the channel with that customary scowl of his, quite rightly indignant at the fact that Mr Bill Gates earns more money than him, and all the disrespect to his person that that implies. A statue should be erected to Gareth Barry and it was appropriate that his midfield performance gave a strong indication as to how such a spectacle would appear. There were moments in the game when captain Rio Ferdinand was positively awake. As for Steven Gerrard, he provided a sterling example to the Montenegrins of just how effective you can be if you secede from a larger entity, in this case the England team, and simply go it alone, doing your own thing independently.  Peter Crouch was, as ever, tall.

It was fiscally prudent of England not to score in the first half, mindful, in these straitened times, of the strain this might put on the nets and looking to preserve these public assets for as long as possible. With Glen Johnson certainly not playing like some sort of absent minded clown whose place in the team can surely only have been assured by virtue of the stack of home porn movies he retains featuring members of the English management, there was no chance of the Montenegrins would trouble young Mr Hart. An absorbing half. Waiting for Chilean miners to be winched to the surface in several hours’ time could scarcely have been more entertaining.

Come the second half and Wayne Rooney, thousands of whose faithful lookalikes were among the crowd, was increasingly influential in the game, at one point 20 minutes in almost touching the ball. There was nothing in his game, nothing wistful, detached, inept, disconnected, wishing it was 2004 again but it never fucking will be, you vacant, doughy, cheapshagging, spunked out, hairless, hairy fuck, nothing of that sort at all that made you wonder if his testicles had been confiscated for the duration by wife Coleen.

With minutes to go and England’s dominance over the swarthy foe as assured as it had been since early on (around the 12th century), the men in white brought on Kevin Davies, much as, in days of old, cows were fired from catapults by stout defenders of English ramparts. The move spread panic among the Montenegrin defence, one or two of whom should have been note merely booked but indicted by an international court for Fouls against Humanity. This is the shabby way they conducted themselves in the Balkan wars – cynically scything down their opponents as they attempted to cross their borders, as the blue bereted UN looked on helplessly, like linesmen.

The final whistle came and while there was no questioning which of the teams had been England, a question mark certainly hung over the performance of the Brylcreemed, greasy-palmed referee. In Italy, in Genoa, the match between the hosts and Serbia had to be abandoned after Serbian fans bombarded the pitch with flares, with the match awarded to Italy by a score of 3-0. By rights, the England-Montenegro match should have been abandoned also, as word reached Wembley of the outrage and the same result awarded in England’s favour – guilt by Slavic association.

As we go forward, we do so in great uncertainty. The return fixture is due to take place in a year’s time but if recent history is any judge, who is to know whether Montenegro will still exist as a country next year? It might well have been subsumed, be known merely as Upper Serbia, or Bosnia East. Or they might well have been obliged, as a condition of EU entry, to change their country’s name to MonteAfrican-Caribbean Gentleman. Or Sven-Goran Eriksson might be managing them. In any of these very likely circumstances, victory must automatically be granted to England, for decency’s sake…