As I walked along Western Road in Hove on Sunday afternoon the sun shone, flowers adorned the pubs and the pavements thronged with England supporters. Optimism was in the air.
At 3pm I switched on the box and saw that Carry On Up The Kyber was just about to start on Channel 4. For a joke, I texted a friend to suggest he watch it. He replied that if I only watch one game this year then England vs. Germany should be it. Needless to say, I watched the game.
From the start, all the action was in the England half yet the English defence seemed thin on the ground. After England went two nil down I felt I couldn’t watch any more and switched channels to find Kenneth Williams as the The Khasi of Kalabar encouraging a bunch of Indian “Burpers” to fight the British. The Burpers refuse, claiming that it was a well known fact that the British were invincible. A pity the Germans didn’t think so.
About this time a cheer went up from the pub outside my flat and I, hurriedly (and guiltily), switched back to the game. England had scored and the commentary was claiming that England had come alive. Within minutes came the disallowed England goal and the commentary quickly focused on this setback and forgot the game in hand. Suddenly Germany scored again and by Germany’s 4th goal the commentators were speculating over the future of English football. England staggered on to a shameful 4 -1 defeat.
The analysis started Immediately and today The Sun described the disallowed goal as “a red herring which merely papers over the cavernous cracks in England’s display” – Excellent! Much of the criticism seems to come down to the accusation that the system fails to nurture new talent, preferring to buy it in from abroad.
I agree that this is part of the problem and I suggest that another part of the problem is the egocentric, “me first” nature of English football. Everyone wants to be a star but without commitment to the team.
Consider my own actions when England went 2 – o down. Rather than sticking with them I had switched channels and the commentators had practically given up all hope when Germany got their third goal. Can you imagine the Koreans, the Japanese or the Americans giving up so quickly?
All this probably reflects Britain’s comparative decline in the world and the wider British culture. We expect that we should be amongst the top rank and when we’re not we lose heart. We need to take a good look in the mirror.
Other nations, with less baggage, will see each success as a step forward and each defeat as a warning against complacency. England seldom displays such purpose or determination and oscillates between euphoria and despair. We see success as proof of innate superiority and defeat as an inevitable nail in our coffin.
When England succeeds we proclaim our team as heroes but when England fail we crucify them. A so called football supporter supports nothing more than a dream. He does not even support his local club; instead he picks a Premier League side which employs a bunch of foreigners to entertain him while he drinks. The premier league has no allegiance to England or English football and it has no supporters. The Premier League has merely an international TV audience of customers bound together by their shared purchase of associated merchandising. The Premier league is to football what Hollywood is to film: superficial, over paid and lacking soul.
Both the obsession with instant stardom and the tendency to buy in talent from abroad are not limited to football. British business lobbies government to allow immigration of workers with required skills while education and training are neglected and the X-Factor encourages youngsters to believe they can become stars over night.
Football was part of our nation’s soul but we have sold our soul to pay for replica kit, Sky Sports and holidays in Tenerife.
Come on England? – More like Carry On England!