Watching England.

Sherlock Holmes used to talk of a 4 Pipe Problem? when pontificating on a complex mystery involving an overgrown dog, a villainous character superbly defined by the simple culinary definition of a bad egg? and the odd dead body. From this our hero pulled together the wispy threads of evidence before delivering the guilty verdict with hardly a tip of his ever present deerstalker hat.

My life isn’t as complex as that but roll forward a hundred years and watching the England football team becomes a four beer problem.

I’ve rediscovered football after twenty odd years in the wilderness once the mighty Sheffield United crept into the Premiership aping the national team style of not much substance allied to a misplaced self belief in their own ability.

Glory Hunting Armchair Supporter? I hear you cry.


Watching the England team of dumb millionaires and celebrity haircuts through the group stages “ honestly I think I’ve suffered enough. But no through winning ugly? “ a pretty accurate summary of my post pubescent conquests “ I’m forced to aggressively self meditate on an alcohol drip as we match the nation’s perspiration with those 11 on the pitch. Obviously we’ve got more beer, but then we’re proper athletes.

Watching the match is a bit like going to the dentist. You really don’t want too, but you feel you must. Except the analogy breaks down as you leave the chair, beer in hand, to polish light switches, sweep the floor, hoover the cat, anything but anything than force yourself to watch the screen in the forlorn hope of a miracle where we play the beautiful game rather than just talking about it. Significant empirical evidence fails to support a logical hypothesis that the team will ever walk the walk, pass the pass or even set a goal to score a goal. But we hope anyway. We’re beauty contestants decrying child poverty and hoping for world peace through the power of a swimsuit. It’s clearly wrong and yet we refuse to accept it, hope conquers all; faith promises glory; the power of a nation state screaming ING-ER-LAND kicks reality into row Z and for a few euphoric moments we truly believe. And then Owen Hargreaves comes on.

Cheap shot because it’s easy to mock. Which is why I’m doing it.

The Fourth Estate hardly helps. Build the buggers up to be world beaters before they’ve kicked a ball and castigate them for every triple analysed failing once they have. For the sake of balance consider this; Big? Phil Scolari “ a man the FA considered the emotional Ying to Sven’s Ice Cool Yang “ consults a preacher back in South America before selecting his team and employs some kind of hokum Vodooist to motivate his team. No wonder the daft old sod turned down the job “ he’d make Glen Hoddle look almost sane. But while he’s working for the other side he’s a genius whereas our dapper Swede is castigated for not bouncing around the technical area like a three-lined-speed Tigger.

A little consistency fellas. That’s all we’re asking.

Anyway My anguished state is hardly helped by the commentary dichotomy of Mark Famous Liverpool Player but not as good as Hanson? Lawrenson dissecting the abysmal formational strategy of the team and my rather more direct wife asking Why doesn’t that famous bloke just kick it??. I think she just nicks it in the understandable stakes and is less likely to steal my hubcaps.

I’ll admit something here; I want us to go out and go home before we’re humiliated by a team who flaunt technical skills we just don’t have; passing, shooting, scoring “ that kind of thing. It’d be a mercy killing “ we need to remember that just because we invented the game doesn’t give us the right to actually win anything.

Normality will resume; flags will quietly be binned, Tim’ll lose at tennis, Andrew will lose at Cricket and the Rugby team will forget that once they were quite good. I’m comfy with that. Dignified losing I can do but maintaining the pretence that This is our World Cup? is wreaking unsustainable havoc on my liver.

Oscar Wilde once famously (remember famous Englishman) said Every man rises to his own level of incompetence and stays there?. Someone tell that to the football team and put us out of our misery.

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