Oof, the England Game–a Perspective from Beyond the Pale

I’m afraid that in the past few seasons when it comes to the English national team the scales have finally fallen away from my eyes–well, admittedly my eyes are failing–with a great crash.

Apart from the scoreline, which Maggie Thatcher might have liked, nothing about that game can have been calculated to please any Englishman (not to mention objective observer) who actually views football as even approximately an art form; I mean, as something other than an extension of the Falklands War, or some other imperialist war of yesteryear (I realize England has wisely crossed off truly formidable opponents from its war list, as when, a year or two ago, they allowed Russians to come in and drop plutonium tabs in everybody’s drinks with impunity).

They looked slow, ponderous, stymied and uncertain much of the time. Having to stay out of the way of Fat Frank effectively neutralizes Gerrard. The only functioning offensive threats are Theo when he’s getting to the byline to cross and Rooney when he’s healthy. I’ve always seen Defoe as a second rate Javier Saviola, but at least El Conejito has great touch and positioning sense, can pass the ball sublimely, prefers seeing somebody else score goals, and even has a sense of humor and gives good interviews.

In fact the only hope I can see for England players ever appearing interesting is for the English fans to develop the wit to give them colorful nicknames, like say:

Terry–Captain Overrated
Heskey–the Truck; the Bus
Lampard–Tubby the Overpaid One
Defoe–the Midget Garbageman
James–the Buffed Up Disaster Waiting to Happen
Upson–Mr. Nervous
Ashley Cole–The Brainlocked Peacock with Grey Feathers

And so on. Last month’s Croatia game wasn’t bad because at least the opposition was worth playing against. But in this one the softball opponent was a country where, as a guy I know who works for the EPA and goes there often, puts it, you have to take your shoes off when you enter a house because the (dirt, of course) streets are aflow with human shit.

I doubt that’s the case around Blenheim Palace, the domicile, I believe, of Capt. Rags to Riches Terry–who in interviews sounds like a character out of Eastenders, even when wearing his dove grey formal evening wear for royal receptions. What he needs is for the Queen to shit on his expensive Italian shoes, if she’s ever feeling loose enough to manage it. And if she managed to score a direct hit, no doubt he’d have a backward injury-alibi ready to hand, eloquently demurring in the locker room, “No, mate that hangnail was no bovver.”

It all makes me understand how hundreds of millions of nonwhite “England fans” around the planet, unable to erase the ancient psychological traces of imperial/colonialist domination, have to make themselves sick drinking warm beer in pseudo-pubs in order to even pretend to endure England games.

Really, in short, I’d much rather watch Jamaica play; at least they sport a colorful bit of kit and don’t have to continually buy slack from their apologists in order to deceive and disappoint. If a Jamaica or a Honduras or a Chile or a Uruguay doesn’t make it to South Africa because the decks are still stacked in favor of boring and underperforming once-dominant Euro sides like England, ‘twould be an actual shame. Let’s have our football in technicolor, kill those three lions, and hire the England kit design out to Benetton, for pity’s sake.

When you’ve dropped out of the top of a high building, are halfway down and finally realize it’s time to change your life, you ought at least give it a try.

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