Tuesday, 4 July 2006

Passion is the fashion

Down came the flags of St. George, who was a Palestinian, wasn't he ... and brimming with passion?

Faster than Venables could grope for the old excuses ("penalties are nothing but a lottery"). Faster even than vultures Lineker, Hush Puppy and Wrighty could muster their claw-tongued lynch mob to take down the foreign coach they'd been circling for the last fortnight. And OK, tactically he was pissier than a bottle of Bud, but he was also no less than the equal of his predecessors.

England were true to their glorious heritage, contriving to miss more penalties in five minutes than Germany have missed in their entire World Cup history. And Portugal beat our millionaire egos brave boys again, clearly because they, like most other countries, are simply better at kicking and catching footballs than we are. "We deserve it," Beckham had claimed a few days earlier, clearly believing his own hype.

Sven was a calm and collected, if lewd sort of a fellow who - so sniggered Wrighty and Hush Puppy - lacked the 'passion' to manage the England team. The same passion, indeed, that had led Taylor, Venables, Hoddle, Keegan, and indeed the great David Hodgson to such invigorating successes.

Holed up waiting for the birth as I have been, this World Cup has been marked out by the wild variations in the BBC's quality assurance of punditry, which has been either very poor (lynch mobs - I might as well have watched it at the Jolly Carter) or very good. Indeed, the Leonardo / O'Neill combination has been the best, least cliche-ridden half-time discussion in years - more of this, please, Beeb.

Who gives a toss once the underdogs are out anyway? It's time to look forward to the return of proper footeh, i.e. footeh that's actually aware of its own absurdist futility (which - FYI, unbelievers - is precisely what makes football compelling).

As luck would have it, the mighty, mighty Quakers are away to lowly Stoke City in the Littlewoods Cup (or whatever vessel it is now). This will be only my second trip to the Britannia Satdium. The tickets are cheap, the seats largely empty, and the away crowd scattering stoical and humorous in inevitably heavy defeat. This, dear readers, easily beats the hysterical part-time England mob.

A typical lynch mob at our games inevitably peters as follows:

Fan A (singing): "This is shite, Hodgy, get ooouuuutttt!"
Fan B (disbelieving): "We've been shite since 1883!"
Fan A: "What pies have they got?"

Better than the dawn chorus on a summer's day, that. Well, childbirth imminent (I hope), so I'm off directly to ply the bump bearer with bolognese ("Go directly to the kitchen, do not pass go - or any inviting-looking books of poems.").

Then I shall be delighting (equally directly) in this assortment of lullabies, including an infant bedtime cert by a band called Fuck Buddies & Tutu Clash.

Real tenterhooks affair, this.

Dai, Azzurri d'Italia!

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