Sunday, 13 June 2010

And then this giant dung beetle came out.

You prepare for this mentally for two years, you worry if your country will collect the very best players and you hope they will not embarrass you. In the case of England, we come to expect the worst from keepers, fragility in our young players and idiosyncrasies in our managers. We start out knowing deep inside that we won't get much further than the quarter finals. So when the World cup starts we turn our tellies on, open our newspapers and tune in our radios to see hear and read a steady stream of Rule Britannia, we are the best, and we will be immaculate killer krikkit robots half efficient German   half passionate Italian and half Brazilian dancer. I know that's 1.5 but if you can give 200% why not be 50% of three things too? . Any road, we totaly buy into the shite stream of propaganda the week before, only to have it stripped away within 20 minutes of the first kick of the ball by England.

This year has been no different. What a delight to see that goal so forcefully executed  by Scouse pretty boy Steven Gerrad. and yet Who could have imagined that not much later the good ship England would sputter and die in a moment that will forever be etched in our collective memories. I expected that at some point there would be a clanger, but this was the mother and father of all clangers.  A ball travelling so slowly , a school boy could have stopped it, dribbled into the net exposing the massive gaping hole euphemistically  known as the "Goal Keeper problem". Not since David Seaman, England's porn star stopper and Arsenal super star, have we had a keeper worthy of the jersey . We can field the finest strikers and mid fielders, but our roll call of keepers is more a catalogue of clowns, unknowns and relegation destined number ones. David "Calamity" James is waiting in the wings to remind us just how awful he was the first time around as the England stopper. Poor Green, I should feel sorry for him, I should have some compassion for him, but you know what? I don't, Why do we have to endure these inept, half inflated built in accidents waiting to happen. At least when Mad Jens  gave us kittens with Arsenal , we also knew he was capable of some stunning saves. Maybe it 's the water or maybe Margaret Thatcher's fault, but England cannot produce a goal keeper worthy of a Sunday side for love or money. Lord help us if we get as far as the semi final. Perhaps it was a blessing that some nameless , now sacked probably, tech pulled the plug on the broadcast right as Steven Gerrard was scoring a goal. Pity he couldn't do that later on to spare us the spectacle of Green flailing about like a trout out of water.

Ah but it wasn't all doom and gloom. Two of the dullest teams on Earth showed up to see who could put us to sleep faster. Without doubt while France with it's hapless uninspired play was a close second, it was Greece in a display of laid back stoicism was the total opposite of what a Greek is supposed to be. I've worked with Greeks .Passionate people , I mean barmy as a bag of wet cats passionate. and this lot were sleeping in the noon day sun.The only thing more annoying than a dull lifeless football match. Is the sound of the swarm of killer bees that seem to have been allowed to attend. Described by one commentator as "The longest and angriest traffic jam ever", these things are noisier than a jet engine and more dangerous. A mate from Gallfrey Base told us to reduce the treble on our tellies to nil. While the noise wasn't any quieter it was at least less brain piercing. During the England match there was a struggle between the signing supporters the band and the drummers to drown out the killer bees, but except for a few brief moments, it was a losing struggle. At least Nigeria Argentina sounded like a proper football match, It had hum, roaring, signing, drumming ...  all the stuff you associate with a day out at the park.

One of the other great things you associate with football coverage  and opening ceremonies is the very strange and beautiful. The opening ceremony , however brief, under 90 minutes, was truly Africa on show to the world. The  costumes, dancers, singers and musicians , despite being in probably the least expensive opening ceremony in decades, were entertaining, memorable and without doubt a reasonable representation of what is best about African culture. The sci fi moment was the appearance of one of the cast of Starship Troopers. The giant beetle has since become  popular and says it wants to be on Coronation Street. I would like to point out to whoever is running the cameras, you're supposed to show gorgeous women in ity bity shirts and tiny skirts. Instead we got Tim Healy in his Benidorm kit. Two trannies complete with bad wigs and even worse make up were the England representatives in the sexiest supporters on the screen  contest. Was there not one fit woman sporting a St-Georges cross on her cheeks, either cheeks would have been nice?

I did find out one thing about myself and apparently most of my friends, we would rather watch Doctor Who than sit through Adrian Chiles and his cronies  do condescending pieces about how South Africans watch telly on bed sheets, or delivering  drivel in studio, worthy of the One Show and saying soccer all the time. It's called football mate. Oh and the man can put insomniacs to sleep with his droning on and on and on and on . Much prefer the BBC any day, At least the pundits who regularly annoy us during the year are genuine sport journalists and former players, unlike the collection of light entertainment  sofa jockeys over at ITV.

As for my long held prejudices and football appetites for revenge, I found myself mellowing just a bit. I'm looking forward most to Germany v Oz and much to my surprise, I wish Australia well, all the while  hoping Germany put on a master class in football. So what if Diego Maradona is a drug addled cheat,  do I have to take it out on the entire Argie team? Not really, And until Australia get as good at football as they are at cricket, I doubt we'll be doing anything worse than a few humorous jibes. I like most of the well known world class players, I watch them week in week out most years. This year was the exception as my beloved Newcastle United spent a year in fizzy pop for tax purposes. As a result, I paid scarce attention to the Prem and all it's pretty football and sky high personalities. These acrobats of football take what lesser players do and turn it into art, skill and entertainment rolled into one. Notwithstanding our Mr Green, we watch the World Cup as much for the spectacle of theses players as we do to see who's going to be on our wish lists. Either way, we don't have room to hate entire sides, except maybe Portugal and it's collection of divers, shirt tuggers and assorted bully boys, I sincerely hope the best team wins and the best players shine.. The World Cup is a showcase for current and future top flight players, Much as it pains me, not all the best players in the world are English. How else will I know who will shortly be the subject of wildly inaccurate stories in the red tabs or in the official mouthpiece of Real Madrid. It strikes as odd that this year Real Madrid aren't undermining a Man U, Arsenal or Chelsea player this summer. Maybe no one wants to take up any of the players currently bloating Real's payroll or the asking price has finally gotten too high even for the high rollers. Fingers crossed this means that salaries and transfer fees have hit as high as can go without bankrupting teams.

Best player of the tournament so far?  Number 11 from the King's Arms  pub .... The Doctor in last night's episode The Lodger, explodes in a frenzy of moves worthy of the love child of Christiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. " Matt Smith is a former Nottingham Forest footballer. The actor, who is the eleventh actor and youngest ever to take on the role of the Time Lord, played for the reds at Under 12, 13 and 14 level. He also played for Northampton Town Under 11s and 12s and Leicester City Under 15s and 16s and had ambitions to turn fully professional before a back injury forced him out of the game." James Corden wasn't bad for a podgy lad either.Who knows, when Matt hangs up his bow tie, he might join the commentary crew at the BBC.

Well the fun resumes in a few hours, but if I'm honest, I suspect the match of the day and consequently scheduled last up to accommodate North American fans, is Germany v Australia.  Perhaps this will be the thus far elusive Holy Grail of early matches, complete with fewer horns, exciting play and a full stadium of pretty frauliens and Oz birds for the cameras to pan over.

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