Posts Tagged ‘england’

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

World Cup 2010 Report: England v Slovenia


“Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Your boys took a hell of a beating!”

It is often remarked by association football commentators that you can “only beat the team in front of you”. England made a nonsense of this at Rorke’s Drift, of course, when we beat the team that was not only in front of us, but also behind and to either side of us. Moreover, in beating Slovenia, we weren’t just beating this spurious, new-fangled principality who only recently became aware of their own existence. We were also beating Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Germany and all the other upstarts who dare to issue propaganda to their own gullible peoples asserting that they would stand a fighting chance against our own Upson, Milner, Johnson and co. Tonight, clad in the red of Empire which in better times has splotched the buttock of the globe like a raw welt from the thrashing our imperial superiority, we showed that as a footballing fighting force, not even a nation which contains more mountains than people, whose principal export is glowering men in antlers playing timpani-based beat music for sallow young men in black suits, can best us.

There is little to be said about the stray piece of Balkan jetsam that is Slovenia, except that nature, in Her wisdom, made their men unusually tall, so as to make them easier to spot in immigration queues, pull out of the line and put straight on the first boat back to Central Europe. Doubtless they have poets, but when every word ends in the syllable “ic”, it is a jolly sight too easy to shine in this department. The National Anthems were the mark of our disparity. Ours was yodelled lustily by every man jack of our players, except for Milner, who, being Northern and subject to the speech impediment common to the people of that region, wisely kept his mouth shut, realising that to do otherwise would be akin to smearing the flag with tripe, or delivering Princess Anne the brutal kick up her jodhpured backside she so patently doesn’t deserve. As for the Slovaks, so tediously derivative were its strains that it will doubtless be the subject of lawsuits from the estates of half a dozen eminent 19th century composers. This alone should have entitled to us to a direct free kick at the opening of play.

Instead, the game begin with England immediately on the attack, crushing the Slavs beneath our hooves as we thundered goalward. If Glenn Johnson’s initial first touch was as adept as a that of a seal trying to grasp a bar of wet soap, if Matthew Upson’s deceptive combination of slowness and gormlessness meant he might as well have worn a giant, deely bopper-style headpiece in flashing neon letters reading “LIABILITY! LIABILITY! LIABILITY!”, if Milner’s opening contributions were as risible as if he were stumbling along the touchline with his shorts fallen about his ankles, then I, for one, certainly did not notice. Once again, England were playing with the sort of blood, beef, thunder, passion, gravy, wind, guts, fire, horsepower, sprouts, commitment and Yorkshire pudding that precludes the need to pass the ball calmly, and slowly, in a fucking straight line every fucking now and again.

Inevitably our endeavour was swiftly rewarded as Defoe, who, for obvious reasons will be among those players travelling on the lower deck of the bus during the victory parade through London, showed his humble commitment to the cause by helping into the net a cannoned cross from Milner. One nation roared in unison, the rest quailed, not least our opposition the Slovankians, who were so bewildered at this stage they had no more idea of precisely which nation they were than the rest of us do.

By now, it was simply a question of whether England need bother scoring any more goals, or simply declare and not come out for the second half. In grudging obeisance to a technicality in the rules we did, however. Steven Gerrard commanded midfield, varying bits of it, his resolved expression suggestive of a man whose brain resounds to more than the incessant, Scouse drone of a hesitant “Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”. Wayne Rooney was calmness personified, displaying none of the sort of superheated, hairy impetuosity that makes you wonder if he shouldn’t be clad in an icepack bodysuit at half time in order to calm him the fuck down and not keep chasing the ball like a famished fucking cartoon coyote going after a fucking road runner. As for mascot Capello, who, amusing to relate has been somewhat grumpy and downcast in recent days, like an organ grinder whose monkey is refusing to hold out its tin cup, he entertained us all, bounding about on the touchline like some comic opera buffoon, as if about to hitch up his trousers, reveal his garters and bellow “GO COMPARRRE!” One could even go so far as to say he has made a token, modest, inadvertent contribution to England’s success, in at least preserving their good temper. Perhaps he could even be allowed onto the victory parade bus, in the capacity of driver.

As the final whistle approached, the Slaves of the former central Europe showed their desperation by making a brace of efforts on the England goal, whose ineptitude only heightened the jollity of millions of English viewers. As the final whistle blew, celebrations were untinged with the sentiment that, Jesus H fucking Crapstick, in a group we should have conga’d routinely through given our players and fucking resources, we only just made it out of by the width of a flake off a fucking scab on a gnat’s fucking kneecap. We are dead meat waiting to be fucking roasted.

The crowning and memorial moment came from John Terry. “On the field, you can rely on him to be entirely focussed on the game,” remarked the commentator on the British Broadcasting Broadcasting Corporation. Yes, indeed, Mr Terry can, and deserves to be congratulated for not actually shagging players’s wives out on the pitch during the match. But he deserves even more kudos than that. Who among us can forget the image of him, during a last ditch Slovenian effort on goal, projecting himself sideways on, swimming through the air head first? He was a spermatozoa, the ball his ovum. It was, for this old campaigner, in a very real sense the most stimulating moment of this tournament so far, the most engorging, most reverberating, most pulsating . . . Seppings! The bucket!

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Pre-World Cup 2010 Friendly Report: England v Japan


Much as the word “gay” has acquired in modern times a disgusting connotation foreign to its original, charming meaning, so it is with the word “nip”. This was once the loveliest of English words with a variety of uses; “Nip and tuck”, “Nip in the bud”, “Nip in the air” and so forth. Now, however, it has been effectively and brutally colonised by our oriental foes the Japanese. The same goes for the word “Johnny”. Once, one merrily trilled the word in such ditties as “When Johnny comes marching home”. Now, once again, in conjunction with the word “Nip”, it has an altogether less innocent interpretation. “Johnny Nip” now brings to mind a wholly unpleasant mental image, the image of those who have pillaged our very language in order to signify themselves.

It was for this gross act of yellow appropriation, to say nothing of countless other crimes, that we would exact our revenge upon the opponents ranged against us on the field today. Having been soundly and properly thrashed in World War II, during the 1950s their numbers dwindled to the point in the 1960s there was but one oriental left in the world, a certain Mr Bert Kwouk. Since then, however, it would appear that they have been breeding again – there were moments today when they appeared to be all over the pitch. (Nowadays, I believe, their principal export is pencil sharpeners which double up as transistor radios – they blare out the chimes of some benighted Japanese crooner singing “Rock Around The Crock” upon use). This is not to the good. One refrains from stigmatising a nation according to their perceived characteristics but in all reasonableness, they cannot possibly expect to be taken seriously with names and eyes like that. Exhibit A: A Prime Minister called Takeshita. Prime Ministers with names that do not readily present the opportunity for anagrams alluding to obscene bodily functions versus Prime Ministers with names that do. This was one of the many things at stake in this vital fixture.

The brutal privations endured by British POWs in Japanese internment camps during the recent great campaign are fresh in the minds of an older generation, less so the younger. It is to this end that each year, I invite local children to my estate and stage for them a re-enactment of the horrors visited upon so many of our boys. My manservant Seppings plays the role of the unfortunate POW, while I, in a far more onerous role, play his Japanese tormenter. It is my grim duty to descend into the oriental mindset and devise punishments which Seppings must undergo for the edification of the children. There they sit, cross-legged and watch as, barking mock-Japanese imprecations, I force Seppings to sit on a bamboo spike, rub his genitals with unguents and preserves which attract a nearby nest of wasps, eat his own dog and, in a particularly callous twist on a chastisement mentioned in reports passim, bury him upside down in sand for several hours with his feet, rather than his head, exposed to the baking sun.

The match took place in Austria, a country which has produced and exported many fine citizens and born leaders of men. The lip duly curled all the more as the Japanese lined up alongside the English, as if daring to presume parity. Our own National Anthem was delivered with customary aplomb, with Stuart Pearce nudging mascot Signor Capello to remind him to stand to attention in the dugout and, for Heavens sake, try not to look too Italian. The Japanese infliction, by contrast, an inconclusive, drawn out dirge doubtless sketched out on the side of a teapot in the 16th century, sounded like a tone poem to the pleasures of hari-kari.

The match began with England in imperious mode, and, one trusts, the referee having had a word with the Japanese reminding them that were any of their team to commit suicide by any means during the course of the game, they would be met with a straight red card. England certainly didn’t play with the sullen lethargy of those under contractual obligation to be torn away from their Wiis and Gameboys for about two hours in their pampered fucking lives. Hefty Tom Huddlestone played with customary winged heels, which he would need as the Japanese regarded him with a half a mind to harpoon him. Rio Ferdinand is still living the England dream, with the emphasis on “dream”. Darren Bent definitely might not as well have got straight onto his travel agent at half time to enquire about cut price holidays from mid June to mid July. Rooney’s glances of affection at Theo Walcott when, very occasionally indeed, his end product was slightly less than perfect were veritable love letters, none of them including the letters “T”, “W”, “A” and “T”, followed by the punctuation points “!”. “!”, “!”, “!”, “!”, “!” and “!”.

Astonishingly, however, it was the Japanese who, in an act of inscrutable folly found the back of the net first. The scorer was a fellow by the name of Tulio, which sounds suspiciously non-oriental. I trust that a FIFA biologist, superintended by a member of the English FA, was dispatched to carry out a Race Test at half time, involving blood samples and phrenological examinations of the cranium to check that he was indeed Japanese. Whatever, this was undoubtedly Japan’s Pearl Harbour moment, which served only to enrage and galvanise England’s Allied Forces, who redoubled their efforts and vowed revenge.

Half time reinforcements saw Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard introduced onto the pitch. It is a tribute to the latter that I could have sworn, going by recent performances, that he had already been on the pitch in the first half. And, before long, our efforts were rewarded with a penalty, which was duly dispatched, or near as damnit, by Frank Lampard in an absolutely bloody useful effort. The goal, however, was disallowed on some tedious technicality doubtless introduced by the bureaucratic gnomes of Brussels in order to hamper British enterprise.

This hitch notwithstanding, Japan were finally sunk with two late strikes, much as they were in 1945. Our own fortitude, then as know, had proven superior. Much as we had ridden out the Blitz through cheerful stoicism and the whistling of the tunes of Bud Flanagan, the Japanese, when on the receiving end, displayed a peculiar genetic intolerance to nuclear annihilation. All that remained now was for the USS Missouri to be unmoored and recommissioned, and for a delegation led by John Terry to step aboard and accept the Japanese surrender, on terms favourable to the English, dictating the following terms.

-It’s a restaurant. We want chairs. And cutlery. And to keep our shoes on. And something filling to eat, in which seaweed isn’t the main ingredient. Or cat.

-Do something amusing involving your naked bodies and a cheese grater for our televisual delectation.

The game was won, the match over. However, for weeks, months, perhaps years to come there will be at least one member of the Japanese back four scurrying gamely, around in the long grass of that Austrian pitch, unaware that the whistle has long blown.

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Pre World Cup 2010 Friendly Report: England v Mexico


He is a rum fellow, Diego Mexican – conquered, with ease, of course, by Spain in the 16th century, who were looking to establish a worldwide monkey empire of their own to run in parallel to those established by the Northern peoples. The hapless Mexicans offered little resistance to the Spaniards, merely using their panpipes as makeshift sawn-off blowpipes in order to fire dried beans at the invaders (a strategy that would have been taken up as UK Defence Policy had the Socialist Party retained power for a fourth successive term in the British Isles). Finally admitted to the human race by a narrow vote of world nations in 1919, theirs has been a negligible contribution to global affairs. In an amusing constitutional quirk, they have their own, token “President”, whose job is to be helped into a suit by a UN delegate and to look solemn and attentive as he takes his orders from an IMF representative to sack nine tenths of his Civil Service. Thereafter, all that is left to him is to wait patiently to be assassinated, a fate that has befallen 19 of the country’s previous 22 leaders, at my estimate.

It was against such a people, whose principal exports have been the wave and the bean, that England’s chiselled Knights were ranged this unseasonably warm evening. It had been said, by sideshow turn Signor Capello’s keepers, that England would experiment with a selection of 30 players in this fixture. However, in truth, any 11 of any 30 Englishmen would have been more than adequate to take on these dazed little fellows, doubtless airlifted by crate from across the Atlantic. Yonder stout, bald fellow in the stands and your equally rotund compadres with the letters “E-N-G-E-R-L-A-N-D” painted across your bellies, little pencil moustached fellow from the East Midlands shaking his fists in a high, febrile manner to camera, step forward. You would have done.

For little they are, the Mexicans. They do not run to height. It is said that the tallest ever Mexican reached the height of 5’10” and was considered such a quirk of nature that he was toured from village to village in a mobile wooden cage and pelted by small children with orange peel as the womenfolk gathered up their skirts in horror. One feared that as the camera panned across the two teams lining up prior to the match, it would only catch the tops of their heads, as they were dwarfed by the English mascots. Thanks to the British technology of adjustable tripods, this humiliation was at least averted. However, the national anthems would reveal a far greater disparity. Ours was delivered by every man jack in white with customary gusto – it must be a comfort to Her Majesty to be assured that, much as if she were a football punted speculatively from 30 yards out moving about in the air at David James, that God, like James, would surely save her. As for the Mexican Anthem, its ominous, martial air suggested that the crashing timpani on the second chorus was a cue for a renegade lieutenant to fire a cannon directly at El Presidente, plume hatted, upright and saluting in the stands. But this was a clash on many fronts.  Bulldogs versus Chihuahuas. Baked versus refried. The Coldstream Guards versus fat men in ponchos making yelping noises. Catastrophic earthquakes every few years versus barely a rumble in our green and pleasant land at all. For all this, we were fighting.

One questioned the selection of referees, all of whom came from Japan. Our own Prince Phillip has in the past questioned whether this people have the appropriate range and depth of optical capability to officiate at a match of this import. My own sentiment was that, since the pitch had been covered copiously in sand beforehand, it was perhaps lax not to have buried these officials up to their necks in it all afternoon prior to the game on such a hot day, as lenient retribution for what the Japanese did to our own Mr David Bowie, as shown in the documentary Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence. An oversight by the groundsman, I feel.

The game commenced at a cracking pelt, with England setting a measured, controlled and above all manly pace – Walcott blasted the ball at Gerrard, Gerrard blasted it at Rooney. As England charged about, almost keeping possession at times, they were indubitably imbued with the red, white and blue spirit, with no sense of the words “red” and “white” having been replaced with “arsed” and “flies”. Theo Walcott ran down the wing, time and again, to the extent that it seems unfair that a finishing tape was not hung between the left goalpost and the corner flag, so as to reward his efforts appropriately. Steven Gerrard incurred a head injury and could count himself among the walking wounded. It would certainly have made a great deal of fucking difference if he’d merely been carried round on a fucking stretcher in circles in the midfield by the equally useful and utterly descript  Carrick and Milner. The uncertainty as to whether Frank Lampard was playing lasted right up prior to the game, and indeed right through till the final whistle. And, as the Mexicans advanced time and again in attack they were easily repelled, with England fans at no point forced to wonder what the fuck a team with any kind of fucking attacking edge might do against a fucking defence like ours with more holes in it than a fucking second hard dartboard.

By the second half, with England three to the good, the game was essentially a waltz, a reminder of gayer times. The pitch was like some ballroom of old, with England’s players cavorting with glee and abandon, while the opposition shambled about them, abject and dusky, like so many waiters and underlings performing the clearing up chores appropriate to men of their subordinate caste. They had shown themselves a poor lot – Sven Goran-Eriksson had led a Swedish expeditionary force to Mexico, stepped ashore and declared himself manager of the team a few years ago but his altruistic efforts to bring European superiority to this rabble had proven in vain. By the end, England’s fans were chanting “ole, ole”! As England strung pass after pass together. First one, then another. Then, a few minutes later, another one. Followed by another.

It was abundantly clear, as the final whistle blew, that England this night displayed all they will need to in order to bring the World Cup back home to Great Britain where it belongs, where it can at last be set in the British museum, perhaps adjacent to the Egypt room or the Elgin Marbles. With Ledley King so deadly from one foot out, particularly when given the space his due, and Peter Crouch equally lethal from one inch out, and with Glen Johnson sure to repeat several times the run and shot that led to his altogether typical goal, that all that remains is to check that the MOT on the open top bus has been properly carried out.

Treasonably, however, there were voices which suggested that Peter Crouch’s second goal might have been in some way illegitimate, on the grounds of his having practically performed a volleyball manoeuvre in order to steer the ball into the net. Absolute banana oil, of course. It was clearly a case of “ball to hand”, and for it have been penalised would have been as unjust as the censure suffered by England’s comely Champion John Terry for the “vagina to penis” incident for which he was recently so cruelly ostracised . . .