Yeah, I know, it’s about football. But please bear with it. I’m going to try and articulate why it is of so much importance to men. Before I start with any psycho-babble, I should explain that I am the kind of guy who will go down the pub, have a pint and say “See Rooooney? What was ‘e fackin’ playin’ aht?” (getting more Uncle Albert as the conversation progresses). I just seem to adopt unwarranted airs and graces when writing.
Firstly, sport in general. Women can’t seem to understand why men like watching any kind of sport going. Of course there are women who like sport and men who don’t, but by-and-large I think this applies. Whether it’s a ball being kicked, thrown, smacked with a big stick; cars being driven around and around; men lumping seven shades of shite out of each other or even curling (ok maybe not the last one), we are drawn to it. I think part of this is because sport offers an arena where various alpha male prizes can be won in a short space of time. Football is the sport that seems to bring out these feelings more than anything, certainly in England anyway.
I’ve never seen anything unite men like football, unless there was an international Naked Female Jelly Wrestling tournament, especially when England are playing and especially when it’s a World Cup. Knowing that you’re all after the same thing, feeling the same emotions and happily crying into each other’s arms (more often than not with England), brings us together like family. It is our team, always there rain or shine. No matter how shit other things are going you always have your team, barring any Enron-like financial retardedness. Chester City fans, I feel you brothers! We invest so much time and emotion into it without being asked, most of us don’t do that with our partners for fuck’s sake. It’s very personal.
So today is England v Germany, a fixture guaranteed to get the red tops drooling and some idiots mentioning the World Wars. I feel dirty even mentioning it here, because it is ridiculous they are ever dusted off from the ‘British Shelf of Historical Greatness’ and paraded around in front of people like some kind of geriatric old pageant queen. We’re happy to throw ’66 out there as well. Why? I wasn’t alive when it happened, and while it’s nice to have the star on the shirt, to me it never happened. Leave it.
I hate Germany more than most (in football terms) because Franz Beckenbauer can’t keep his bloody mouth shut. Along with the likes of Platini and Blatter, he seems to offer an opinion on England where it’s not wanted. Why is this? Why do we seem to be an open target? You wouldn’t see Bobby Charlton talking about the shambles which was the French World Cup effort, and why would he? Maybe it’s because the behaviour in the previous paragraph makes people hate us, and we come across as arrogant. But honestly, I think they would bear ill will regardless. We’re called the home of football, and maybe this grates with them. Everyone is determined to get one over on us. You’d think after so many bloody years of abject failure, they’d be satisfied by now.
So to our chances. I try to remain optimistic, but I am fully expecting a defeat today. I hope it isn’t so. On paper, we have the beating of Germany and if we play well we could actually thrash them. That’s a big if. Clearly I’m too cynical, but there’s always something that crops up in an international tournament with us. A disallowed goal (it was right to disallow it in ’98 by the way), a sending off, a complete mental breakdown in players when they have to remember how to place the ball in the back of the net from 12 yards. I didn’t go into this World Cup thinking we could win it, which is a first for me. In previous years I’ve thought we had a good chance. However, if we can beat Germany today, and beat them with a confidence we rarely see, it could be the turning point. If not, well there’ll be no shortage of people on whose shoulders I can wipe my tears on.
Come on England!!!