Capello and Friend
We football fans need heroes, we need supermen to represent us and to show the world what we’re made of. We believe that we are the chosen ones. So where are our English heroes? Where are the latter-day longbowmen of England? What happened to them? Have they become too lazy and spoiled? Have they had it too easy? They have to be found before it’s too late.
I have loved football all my life and many of my early memories are of playing not on well-drained and manicured lawns but on pitches with penalty areas so boggy that it was an effort to lift ones boots out of the ground. The stinging sensation on a frozen thigh as a water-logged ball smashed into it – and the less said about heading a wet ball, the better. Chilblains as you stepped into a hot shower after 2 hours running about in horizontal sleet.
There was a sliding tackle in the 60s which I remember so clearly to this day. I only remember it because I snapped my thumb in an iron-hard frozen rut as I tried to slide-tackle the opposing team’s too-fast centre-forward. Our trainer rushed onto the pitch, grabbed my thumb and decided that it was maybe just dislocated. He then proceeded to manoeuvre it as you would a gear lever on a non-synchromesh gearbox.
Once my screaming had died down, he told me not to be a pussy and to carry on. By the time the game was over, the pain had gone because luckily, I had lost all sensation right up to the elbow and my hand had turned greeny-grey through a combination of frost and pain. By the end of the game, my concentration was solely on my long-gone stomach muscles which were aching from the forty minutes-or-so of non-stop pain-induced retching.
Half-times used to be spent in the middle of the pitch. Even when the temperature was sub-zero. there would be orange segments, sometimes so sour that your scrotum would involuntarily contract in the genetically-programmed “flee” reflex.
The changing rooms always smelled of feet, piss and disinfectant and there were many occasions when we sat after a game, our hands so frozen that we could not even begin to untie our laces. I even recall occasions when we would stand in the shower fully clothed in our football strip, shivering as we waited for the thawing process to kick-in.
Another memory which still makes my teeth itch, took place on a sloping, frozen pitch somewhere in Leicester. I was running very fast towards a left-back who had the ball at his feet. I had already realised that there was little chance of me stopping because the stopping distance on a frozen field a 15 mph is more-or-less infinite. My purple legged adversary took two quick steps back and hoofed the 2-lb water-logged semi-frozen mud-spattered ball, presumably in a vain attempt to hoist it over my head. Whatever happened, I knew that a collision was inevitable.
That’s the last thing that I remember until I found myself supported by two team-mates who’d dragged me to my feet and were holding me under the arms. The trainer then proceeded to pump me up and down as he screamed into the gale: “He’s only winded. He’ll be OK in a minute!”
When the ball had hit me it clobbered me in the testicles so hard that I had temporarily blacked-out. However, the momentum had still carried me full-on into the full-back and I was indeed winded by the impact – but it was the excutiating pain between my legs which was making me puke.
I spent the next few days lying on my side with one of my mum’s very nice embroidered cushions between my legs with nuts the size of hand-grenades.
The faces of my old team mates are still there in my head and I can still remember goals that I scored decades ago. Sometimes there were tears when we lost but most of all I remember the wins. THAT is why football can be so addictive and such joy. The “ups” are so intense that you want to take them home to bed. The “downs” cause intense pain. They hurt so much because when you lose a match and lose it properly, you are spent. The energy has been burned off, you self-esteem is nowhere and you can hardly lift that pint as you drink to forget.
The young prancing English prima donnas with their silk suits, hotel-houses, large fish tanks, orange wives and Ferraris know nothing of the “coarse” football which we played and which even professionals played a version of, until quite recently.
They have become a freak show, an obscenity, a band of pampered illiterates. Many were plucked from their schools before they could write properly or construct a sentence (and it shows) because they could kick a ball – because they had “talent”.
Nevertheless, youngsters still look up to them because they are heroes. There was a time when I imagined myself pulling on a white shirt with three lions on the chest. Why? Because I too wanted to be a hero, a superman – a god. I wanted to feel unashamed pride in my country of birth.
Unfortunately, our present footballing heroes are men of straw with hollow insides. The whole country is trying to decide why. We don’t understand – even now, after the queue of media psychologists has given its last TV and radio interview.
Why do Englishmen “choke” at the slightest hint of success. The answer is surprisingly simple.
The overpaid ball-kicking thickos are mostly working-class scumbags who have retained the world-famous English class-inferiority complex – added to which, they are stupid. ( Don’t believe me? Listen to any post-match interview)
The mock-Elizabethan mansion, electric gates etc are there because these are essentially working-class dunces who need to show-off. It is exactly the same principle which turns a lottery winner from a normal well-balanced factory worker (remember those?) into a raving Ferrari-driving nutter.
They are all seeking esteem from others. They need that esteem because their own real self-esteem is so low. They cannot elicit esteem from others through the force of their intellect because they have none. Neither can the majority enjoy the admiration of others because of their sparkling personalities. The trappings of wealth are all that they have.
Their confidence flows from their self-esteem, which needs the esteem of others as a catalyst.
The present England team in South Africa looks lost and totally lacking in confidence. Add to that the fact that they have been celibate for a few weeks and all you have left (for all intents and purposes) is a bunch of depressed eunuchs wandering around a field in their underwear kicking a ball – when they can get hold of it.
If the incomprehensible Gerrard, thuggish Terry, drooling Lampard et al could arrive and be greeted like heroes as they are at Wembley, if they were confident that everyone knew them and possibly seen their photo-spread in Hello magazine or read about them crashing their Lambo into a tree somewhere in Cheshire – they would be happy and they would have their self-esteem intact and firing on all twelve designer cylinders.
Unfortunately the Vuvuzela-toting South African crowd doesn’t know most of them from a bar of soap. Here, they are just footballers. The small pink, beer-bellied contingent of English fans cannot make itself heard, it cannot cheer its heroes and so the life-blood of the English players egos has been temporarily interrupted.
Ah, you may ask – but what about all the others? What about the Brazilians, the Koreans and the rest? Why are they not “choking”. Well, strangely enough, many of the over-pampered ones have choked. Just look at France and Italy. It is the ones who had to fight for their football, the ones who came from the stench of the slums , shanties, favellas and townships who are playing with both their hearts and minds.
They do not need the mental crutch of adoration. To them the B-flat of the Vuvuzela is a clarion-cry and not a distraction.
The English manager and Postman Pat impersonator, Fabio Capello is floundering. He cannot massage his charges’ egos or deliver a Churchillian address because he cannot speak English.
Can you imagine Fabio doing a Henry V – mind you, rent-a-moron wouldn’t understand what he was talking about anyway:
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
The solution? Stop believing that England can ever win the World Cup. We don’t deserve it.
p.s. Just to demonstrate the “sprit” off the English team: Did you notice how many English players put their arms round Robert Green or consoled him in any way after he’d made that dreadful goalkeeping error against the USA? That’s right. None. They all walked away and left him to suffer on his own.