Blog 27 – F**k Bloody All.
England are out of another World Cup then, we should be used to this by now but I’ve detected a strange feeling across the nation this time that’s somehow different, for some reason this particular pit of despair smells even more revolting than our usual pits of despair. I apologise for immediately presuming you give a toss about football, maybe you don’t, you might hate football, in which case ironically you’d love our national team because they hate football too. For a couple of days last week I also hated football. That’s what those bastards have done to me, to us, to those of us stupid enough to care.
I suppose now the default setting for our regular disappointments is locked at watching England spectacularly crash and burn in the knockout bit, that’s traditional, right?, usually after a ‘backs to the wall’ and/or ‘down to 10 men’ type performance, complete with goalkeeping howler and/or penalty shoot-out heartbreak as its familiar crushing footnote. Maybe that’s why it feels different this time, we usually exit these tournaments in a blaze glory, just sadly never our glory. No such fireworks this time though, this time it feels like we barely took part at all, our boys weren’t even on the pitch when their elimination was sealed. No David Seaman cradling his teardrops in a ludicrous ponytail here.
But this latest failure appears to have pricked a nerve hitherto un-pricked, and in a way it’s unfathomable because we didn’t expect much from our team and that’s precisely what they’ve delivered. It should also be said that England really weren’t that awful, they just managed to lose both their opening matches, they were far worse in the last World Cup, they absolutely stank the place out in South Africa, some spectators were actually physically overcome by the fumes, others present claim they are still picking the remnants of shit out of their eyeballs to this day. We were truly terrible but yet we somehow managed to stick around long enough to unpack our bags. Not this time. We were gone inside a week this time. Last Friday I had to sit through Ecuador playing Honduras in a meaningful group game at a World Cup that England had already been eliminated from. Hello perspective.
I really sense now that English football fans are watching this tournament with very heavy hearts, far heavier than is the norm for us. After we were bitch-slapped out of Africa by the Germans four years ago it felt like a blessed relief, thank Christ for that we thought, now we can watch some proper football we thought, we don’t even have that this time, there’s been no journey or narrative of any interest to merit even the feeling of relief in the midst of despair, there’s been nothing. Fuck bloody all. On my street I saw one St. Georges flag go up and come down on the same day. No-one does a tragic comedy like the English.
I’ve tried to avoid talking too much about the actual football because I’m aware that some of you lucky bastards don’t like football, that’s why I’ve concentrated on core themes that we Brits can all relate to, such as: loss, misery, despair, denial, regret, anger, recrimination and that sort of thing, anyway what’s the bloody point?, what can I say that Chris Waddle didn’t in his recently witnessed nervous breakdown live on BBC radio? poor fucker.
In layman’s terms, you need sufficient good fortune to compensate for your flaws in order to win a World Cup, ergo: the teams with the fewest flaws tend to do better. England are hampered by many flaws, the pivotal one being that most of the other teams possess vastly superior footballers, forgive me if I’m getting too technical. Our specific flaw in this World Cup is one known as the ‘Kim Kardashian flaw’ – it looks half decent up top, but it’s carrying way too much baggage at the back.
And so it would come to pass that England’s suspect defence would ultimately cost them when the lethal Gerrard / Suarez partnership would combine once more for Uraguay’s late winner with trademark telepathy. Wallop. God bless.
Still at least now we get the biennial ‘Root & Branch Review Of English Football’ which is always fun. Not just the branch you understand, they can see the branch is shit, they’re going to look at the root too to identify WHY the branch is shit. Whatever it is, you can rest assured that Danny Mills and Gareth Southgate will be crunching the numbers and collating the intel so that Greg Dyke can workshop that data with some FA focus groups and then bounce some ideas off Sir Trevor Brooking. Then in two years from now when England celebrates its 50th year of hurt©, we can all hold our breath while Phil Neville attempts to reach the end of a sentence explaining why the whole thing has once more amounted to nothing and how maybe we should be looking at the Dutch model for conducting root and branch enquiries, and of course, how sad he is to hear that poor Chrissy Waddle was found hanged in his home cinema following England’ early exit from Euro ’16 at the hands of the fucking Latvians.