England lose, shock

 

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So just when you thought your country was having a bad day, we went and topped it with a bloody display against Iceland in the Euro Championships which was abject. No that’s not strong enough. Over the years, watching England at major Championships since 1966 (with the exception of 1970 and 1996) has been utterly disappointing and depressing. But Monday’s performance was just the worst ever. It was shameful. And the Welsh football team were filmed laughing at us in celebration. Yes mocking from Wales, who last graced a major tournament when Perry Como had a hit with Magic Moments ie back in the Middle Ages.

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Och shocking Jocks

Oh blimey I’ve been watching the opening ceremony to the Commonwealth Games tonight. It’s well into its programme  (Rod the mod’s been on twice now) and it has certainly livened up. But am I alone in thinking it was a very clunky start? Jeez. I said in my review of the WC opening event that I thought  Danny Boyle had killed it for every artistic director of major events for the next 20 years. And Glasgow’s opening hour sure proved me right.  John Barrowman singing a medley of barmy Scottish ditties and kissing some bloke (as you do) and a few hundred dancers (not enough) portraying Scottish life  stereotypically, as if it was a London 2102 Lite pastiche.  I asked my wife how long before the first bagpipes were heard; she said 5 minutes, I said 1 minute, I think it took 15 seconds. Then there was the whisky song, tartan galore, a big haggis, the Loch Ness monster, Scottish terriers and a film clip of Andy Stewart singing something like ‘Donald where’s yer troosers?’ Look it could well have been ironic and tongue-in-cheek but you never knew where the ‘just joking’ line was. And then they introduced the acts… Rod (OK), Susan Boyle (grim) whilst they emptied the playing arena so it looked like nobody had turned up to listen. Bizarre. I was actually aching for the Proclaimers to walk on and do ‘500 miles’ just to get the action flowing when they did an acapella version to two people dancing ballet to it. It was quite lovely I thought but the event needed a burst of real energy and it never really came.

As I said above it got going a bit once the athletes piled in, but what were the Scottish team wearing? OMG it looked like something designed by that Scottish picnic basket of a designer on ’60 second make-over’. Shocking. I shalln’t mention the head honcho chappie having trouble taking the top off the Queen’s official message torch; it was one of those nights.

But hey all the athletes were having a great time and the crowd warmed up enormously once the Scottish team were unveiled. This is the ‘friendly games’ after all – even the English team got a decent cheer – so I’ll be gracious and say it started crappily but ended joyously and I’m looking forward to a great Games. But sack the Director.

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Come on Blatter, do the decent thing for once

I’ve a solution to the problem Sepp Blatter has been facing for some years – how to end his tenure as President of FIFA on a high note, respected around the world for his courageous convictions. It’s to look at what happened yesterday with the shocking shooting down of the Malaysian airline over Ukraine and to make some important decisions:

–  to accept all the evidence that the civilian airline was taken out of the skies by an SA11 Buk missile supplied by the Russian regime to a trigger-happy bunch of pro-Russian separatists, thinking they were targetting a Ukrainian airforce transport aircraft (similar to the one they shot down last week), and who were in open telephone contact with their Russian military advisors at the time.

–  further accept that Russia is fighting a proxy war against another sovereign state and annexing territory just as Hitler did in the Sudetenland in the prelude to WW2.

–  recognise that the families and loved ones of the 298 innocent people who were killed in the atrocity included some 80 children and a number of mad keen football fans, following their teams’ pre-season progress, deserve to know that their deaths weren’t simply tragic but also resulted in some significant change.

–  question for the first time whether awarding major footballing tournaments to developing countries and the financial burden it imposes on countries like Ukraine (co-holder of the 2102 Euro Championships), South Africa (2010 WC) and Brazil (2014 WC) actually benefits the country or weakens and de-stabilises it, as seems to be the case for sure in the Ukraine.

–  make the obvious conclusion, on behalf of the world-wide football family, that as Russia is acting aggressively and against international law, FIFA should withdraw its grant to host the 2018 WC. Instead FIFA should invite the other bidding countries; England, Belgium-Neths and Portugal-Spain 3 months to submit a new tender document to host the tournament at minimal additional expenditure and based on plans utilising, optimally, existing stadia and current and already planned infrastructure. Winner to be determined within a further 3 month period by a new panel of 6 FIFA delegates and 6 respected external candidates.

–  ignore any threats from Russia on boycotts of future tournaments and hope that FIFA’s actions help, in some small way, to bring an end to Putin’s vile regime.

–  make a just decision that the bidding process for the 2022 WC was almost certainly flawed and compromised by corrupt practices, and that the final bidders should be re-invited to make a fresh submission for the tournament within a 6 month period with a pledge to make a final decision on the best bid within a further 3 months by the same panel.

–  plan future events around a rotating series of well-established centres eg EU states, N America, and the Far East with S America, Africa, Middle East being the prefered venues for under 21/Masters tournaments.

Then Mr Blatter you will go down as a fine, just and decent administrator. Are you up for it Sepp?

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They’re going home…

England 2014 World Cup Home Kit (3)

Well here’s the official England football shirt showing the single star for our sole World Cup win way back when I was just a young lad. And the FA aren’t going to be adding any more stars following our exit from the excellent 2014 World Cup. Still we did last 8 days at the tournament before getting eliminated. Sigh. Only two things make me happy thinking about this; the thought of Colleen having to re-pack those 15 cases and knowing that the extended holiday for the 70 people – that’s right seventy! – who made up the FA’s official tour party will shortly be over. At least we didn’t lose on penalties I suppose.

Now who’s your favourite for the World Cup? It would be nice to see a new name on the trophy I reckon – Chile perhaps? Then they too can enjoy decades of hurt waiting for the second one to arrive.  It’s nice to share.

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Nuts about the Brazil World Cup

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Well I don’t know about you but I’m loving this World Cup. The football’s sensational and exciting (when England don’t play that is), the Rio scenery is stunning, the girls look, well, beautifully Brazillian and the broadcast coverage is just great fun. My fave moments so far:

10. The opening ceremony which was joyously rubbish. Danny Boyle’s smashed it for every Artistic Director for the next 20 years hasn’t he?  Why was J-Lo there? Who was the Brazillian lass? What was wrong with the sound system? – I couldn’t hear a word of what was being sung. And who is this Pitbull character? He might have a street name that sounds all fierce and gangsta but he looked and danced like a gay Russian waiter. I loved it.

9. Colleen arriving in town yesterday evening with kids Kai and Klay and around 15 kases of Louis Vuitton luggage and immediately ran into a twitter storm for dragging her kids half way round the world for yet another holiday. She responded to the ‘thick’ trolls with a statement that it’s not a holiday; she’s out there to support her beleaguered husband Wayne for as long as England remain in the tournament. Well she should be back skirting around the favelas of Alderley Edge within a week or so then.

8. Phil Neville’s ‘expert’ analysis. His commentary is so flat and uninteresting he could make Southport sands seem positively Alpine. Listening to his droney voice is almost as amusing as his hair style – Bury chav chanelling Tintin. I’ve seen more sophisticated grooming on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

6. The BBC idents featuring the little subbuteo figures and those amazing street caricature graphics of the world’s leading payers. Brilliant.

7. Watching fat Phil Scolari having apoplexy on the touchline. Priceless. Loved it when Mexico drew with Brazil tonight – I’ve never rated their full backs Alves and Marcello and tonight they did me proud. Two glasses of caipirinha could defend better then these two munchkins.

5. Netherlands v Spain. Alright that knobhead Robben scored a cracker but RVP’s header was just a belter. Can we now say good bye to all that spunking over tedious tika taka Spanish football please?

4. Thierry Henry’s a sulky fuck but he looks effortlessly cool. Such chic dress sense, he makes Robbie Savage and Alan Shearer look like Steptoe and son in comparison.

3. Pirlo; any chance you could retire and stop torturing us, and Fellaini; any chance you could stop torturing us and play like that for Man U?

2. The Mexican goalie Ochoa, who gave the best stopper performance tonight since the inimitable Gordon Banks in 1970. Even Wenger might be tempted to splash out on him.

1. Talksport Radio’s official WC song; wrong on so many levels but I can’t get the damn chorus out of my head. Watch this and it’ll be in yours too….

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Suits you

I was interested to see the images this week of the England team heading off to Miami, en route to the World Cup sporting their new official suits. I’m sure the lads were expecting to don something snazzy from Armani or Hugo Boss or Paul Smith at the very least. They’ve actually been issued with matching jacket and strides from the official supplier M&S’s Autograph collection. Ah well lads. Continue reading

Why do we bother, Fawlty?

It’s one of the classic lines from Fawlty Towers uttered by the hotel’s oldest client and Basil’s dead-pan response, ‘I didn’t know you did Major’ was one of the all-time great put downs. It’s an exchange that puts me in mind of the situation involving the England team’s training regime in preparation for the World Cup. You see Roy and the boys are busy doing their squat thrusts at a training camp down in exclusive Vale do Lobo on the Algarve. I’m sure it’s great fun but why are they there rather than at the National Football Centre in Burton, a purpose-designed facility costing some £120m, which was built to be the base for England team get togethers? Ah you’ll reply, it’s to give the team some warm weather preparation before the lads hit the steamy heat of Manaus in Brazil. But it’s no big secret that the Algarve in late spring, delightful as it is, tends to be cool and blustery as yesterday’s high temperature of 15° indicates. So Roy’s had the lads playing in jumpers and extra layers to get them sweating up a bit. Of course he has. And I wonder how much the 50-man jaunt to Portugal has cost, whilst the FA’s own facilities (bathed in a mini heatwave a few days ago) stand empty and unloved?

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Is it just me or has top level football completely lost all sense of value and proportion? As the Major may have put it ‘Just what is the point of St George’s Park, Fawlty?’ Answers on a post card to the FA Chairman Greg Dyke.

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Touchy Toure

Regular readers will know how much I love my wonderful three grandsons. Yesterday we spent the day with my youngest E, who was a little under the weather with a cold but who still managed to light up a grey day with his smiles. Last week we caught up with smashing grandson G on his birthday. I picked him up from school with his dad and was able to surprise him with a small gift I’ve been promising him for ages that he can only have once he’d turned 7 – a packet of chewing gum. He tried a piece enthusiastically but I wasn’t sure he enjoyed the Airwaves menthol and eucalyptus flavour. He liked his real pressies more I think. Bless him. Finally My eldest grandson S telephoned just the other evening to confirm he’d been offered a trial by Northampton football club which he was so excited about. Me too! He’s such an accomplished sportsman and this crowned a big week for him having won a gold medal for winning an mixed age 200 metres event at an inter-school athletics meeting as well as not one, but two cup finals. He’s the nearest of course to achieving his dream of becoming a professional footballer. We don’t know of course what the future holds for them but they can be assured that we will support them in whatever endeavour they choose. My only hope for S is that should he fulfill his ambition, he doesn’t turn out to be a footballer with a skin as thin as Yaya Toure.

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