A tale of two Englands with a lot in common this weekend.
Friday night saw the footballers coast into the finals following a comfortable 2-2 draw with Montenegro. Except that the match was foreshadowed by the arrest of Wayne Rooney Senior, a man who looks like a rough-shaven bollock placed on top of a badly-dressed jelly. Or, if you like, Phil Mitchell off EastEnders.
(Wayne Jr can have all the hair-dos he wants, the future’s not looking bright, Colleen.)
Still the younger Wayne was over all that sort of shady shenanigans and besides, once he crosses that white line he’s a still point of control and finesse. Til he kicks someone.
Maybe that hair transplant has confirmed he’s just one more nut-job in an England shirt. Rooney will miss England’s opening two fixtures at Euro 2012 and so all the creativity will be coming from Gareth Barry and Scott Parker. Not so much your Van Gogh and Picasso, more your two coats of honest gloss on your skirting-boards.
Or, God forbid, Lamps and Gerrard will be clumsily fitted together again and England’s Warsaw adventure will begin with two identical poles in the middle of the park.
Whatever happens this is Capello’s last hurrah and no one’s banking on us doing owt. I’ve lost count of the number of folk who say they’re not bothered about England right now. At a time when they are at least getting a job done, that’s pretty sad news. It’s probably because only the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust has seen more lame ducks over the past couple of years.
We presume Fabio’s still there cos the FA can’t afford to sack him. You might think that’d make him a bit more cavalier about team selections but when push comes to shove he goes for a lot tried – or should be tired – and tested. I mean why’s the Charm Vacuum JT still skipper?
Rooney’s absence will only fan the flames of pessimism, but frankly the majority of English club football fans live in a world where hope is as fleeting as a tear in the eye of Simon Cowell, so we’ll all feel well at home with an expectation of nowt.
Of course all the rugby union boys are on their way back home as I write – that’s if Manu Tuilagi hasn’t decided to try his hand at wing-walking. (Personally I don’t think Manu was pissed – I think he was stone cold sober and jumped off the ferry in order to swim back to Samoa as fast as he could.)
I’m not that bothered, me. I know the press go sniffing for the scent of any old shit during a big sports tournament but Martin Johnson’s men seemed to have delighted in serving big dollops of scandalous turd on a silver salver to anyone who cares to inhale.
You wouldn’t mind if, like Gazza’s dentist’s chair celebration in ’96, the players were able to stuff it back down your throats. But the concrete-filled pillow-cases that took to the field for England were steroid-enhanced Nice-But-Dims.
Johnson hasn’t done his reputation any good by sticking with Wilkinson when he was clearly out of form. Moody didn’t seem a great choice for skipper given he was coming back from injury. I know he’s fearless but having a face tattooed with stitches doesn’t make you a leader any more than getting shot nine times makes 50 Cent a great musician.
Johnson also brought on some weird old substitutions when England needed what the pundits call ‘some go-forward’ – which is another of them obvious turns of phrase that means eff-all. I mean, what else could they need? Some go-backward?
The main reason for my indifference, apart from the fact that England’s squad seems to have a disproportionate number of knobheads in it, is that I’ve tried to give rugby union a fair crack of the whip this year. I’ve tried to put aside me tribal prejudices and see the game in the round. And I’m still left with the same conclusion: it’s dull.
A lot of rugby union seems to involve huge men running into huge men and falling over. Some more huge men then join the other huge men and a lot of them fall on top of each other. Then the referee blows a whistle and tells someone they fell over in the wrong place or didn’t let go of something when they fell over.
There’s also the poorly-organised shoving contest, or scrum, during which time itself stands still. There’s about three hours of my life I’ll never get back, watching props pitch face down in the stuff that Anchor cows love so much. I don’t give a toss if it’s supposed to be an integral part of the game – it’s a frigging mess and the penalties that are conceded bewilder the pug-faced bruisers that give ‘em just as much as they do me.
The only delight in rugby union is when, all too occasionally, the ball goes through the hands. Contempomi’s little pat-ball pass during the Argies’ try against NZ is a prime example. And here’s the thing rugger-lovers – that happens ALL THE TIME in rugby league! That’s right! League is like Union minus all the shit bits.
Maybe we Northerners are too dense to understand the intricacies of the public school game of choice. And maybe we just like to play a game where men don’t feel the need to climb all over each other in a way that invites the sort of ‘insinuations’ that surround a cabinet minister when he goes abroad with a ‘close personal friend’.
Ah, the beautiful game!
Of course, Johnson has to go. But then so does Capello. It’s just nobody at either Twickers or the FA has a bastard clue who is supposed to make such a decision. How we got the Olympics is beyond me.
Any road, I’ll be doing the patronising English thing of cheering on little old Wales. At least they chuck the ball around nicely. And if NZ choke, you never know my Cymru friends.