June 28, 2010

My New Elizabethan World Cup Sonnets 4. V Germany

My New Elizabethan World Cup Sonnets 4. V Germany

The 'golden generation' fill their boots,
Those sponsored hospital slippers, with lead
And take the field Franz seeds - with golden shoots
Of 'here to win it' sweat - with wee instead.
Each grail-knight, like Midas in some yob's G
Grade essay into Greek 'Methodology'
On a Trojan carthorse, wins less than Greece
And Turkey have on none of the salary.
A Glazered-over Premiership-serving
Slave to loveless lucre's Un-manning debt,
Petrified Rooney absent as Scholes, King
Of England's nothing, dream-theatres shed.
Stuffed as 'bankers from the Thatcher Error'
Just less fit, and Fritzed by youth and terror.

Significantly, the only group winner not to go through so far (or probably
at all) is USA, who actually beat Slovenia and were - in terms of objective
position as well as spirit etc - better than us. So we were in the worst
group and couldn't win it. We are about as good as Ireland, on a par with
Greece and Turkey but with less success in tournaments since the immediate
post second world war period: ie 1966. Fact. The next time we should
regard ourselves as plucky underdogs and rejoice if we qualify, go berserk
if we top our group and faint if we get any further. Oh and draft in the
English Defence League as our defenders - do them good to get a kicking and a
reality check and probably still slightly improve our results too.

Note: Greedy King Midas was granted a wish and asked that everything he touched turn to gold - not working out in advance that would include food, drink, lover etc . Carol Ann Duffy has written a poem about it from the wife's angle. It would do as her official poem about England's traditional doomed tilt at the World Cup.

June 26, 2010

Rhetorical Question?

Here's one. Because we allowed the USA to pinch our place in the World Cup (as it has in the world), we now have to beat Germany, Argentina and Portugal to get to the final in a competition where France and Italy go out shockingly early. When has that ever happened?

I'll tell you when, Mr Rhetoric. 1966.

The one team we didn't beat then and the world said we needed to to really prove our case (flash in the golden pan winners 1958, 1962 and 1970) was Brazil, whom we will doubtless keep waiting in the rain this year before beating them 1-0. Just to put 1970 straight.

That's the way I'd write it anyway.

June 24, 2010

My New Elizabethan World Cup Sonnets 3. V Slovenia

The lazy lion lumbers into life
To cuff aside the mouse of fate, then roars
It to the corner’s sanctuary and strikes!
And strives - and fails - to pin its tiny paws.
The beast its leader ‘knows’ is in the field
And taking chances – one – and missing five,
A cat among the pigeons, roaring ‘Yield!'
'Fierce England, Fabio-faced, is still alive!’
The might and mane – a little balding, true -
Of Rooney moves in for the ruthless kill,
Our winter king, asleep since March (and June?)
To chew the post, and limp off, looking ill.
And so our doppelganger, Germany,
The old invasion game, then home for tea.

June 19, 2010

New Elizabethan Sonnets 2 v Algeria

“Inglorious and goalless Ing-ger-land”
The mourning papers Nayed in ‘66
In hopeless headlines that, like Ferdinand,
Stood not the test of time – but stand for this.
A team without a heart, a head, a smile,
A hurst, a moore, a charlton or a ball,
A drab grey outfit, no nobby yet no style,
The walk-on-waters sinking in the pool.
A sponsor-burdened team who could not play
A season with this globe like Germany
Because ‘our’ ball is some fat cat’s, and so are they
And paid each draw more than my salary.
We grub all week for victory’s floodlight
To stare down a black hole of endless night.

Note. Apparently we're not playing very well because the 'boys' are bored. They need more freedom.

They don't need more freedom. They need to grow up and start earning their celebrity lifestyles by winning a trophy for a change instead of going on a jolly and getting knocked out in the quarters and expecting us all to carry on cheering !

June 13, 2010

The Tony Hancock School of Football Management

I am posting this response from John H Davies (to my World Cup sonnet no 1) in full. John is remarkable man in many ways. I will list only four. He is convinced the 1958 England team would have won the World Cup but for the Munich air disaster (plausible enough) and believes the 1970 team - Charlton plus Mullery, before Ramsey took Charlton off and we never qualified again for the rest of the Seventies - was atually better than the 1966 one and would have beaten Brazil in the much predicted Final. As a nineteen year old, he was present at Wembley when we actually won the World Cup. He saw George Best in his pomp (ie his shins kicked to blue murder by 60s centre halves but still getting through and scoring). And he is a Manchester United fan who actually comes from Manchester. Here are his thoughts on the present England World Cup hopefuls...

"Thanks for the sonnet. Now Capello knows what it is like to have an interest in England's football team. Dragon-faced? Yes, I like that image. It is accurate and well-observed. However, he remains a Tommy Cooper look-alike, and the buffoonery that surrounds him may eventually be revealed to be of his own creation. Rio Ferdinand has been injured for two seasons. Why take him? Ledley King must have been a sop to political correctness for the inclusion of the chronically disabled. Why take him? John Terry seems to be as tactically and spacially confused as he is morally confused. No doubt he is quick at getting his kit off but he is slow on the turn and on the sprint, an ageing thug, a shadow of his former self, worn down by years of self-indulgence and belief in the hype and flattery of the John Motsons of this world, starry-eyed fat boys who were never able to do it themselves, but who revelled in fame-by-association and were, therefore, obliged to continue the cant well beyond Terry's sell-by date. Carragher, slower than a journey through the traffic lights in King's Lynn. Reliant on the scything tackle, the outstretched arm, the push in the back, but unable to deploy any of these normal Premiership devices in the absence of Premiership referees. Johnson, a man who runs forward very fast but who cannot run back to defend, who always stands in the wrong place and who is always totally unaware of the presence of the winger when a ball is crossed over his head from the other wing. Green, a goalie who can't catch. Heskey, a striker who can't strike. A damp match of a man, tried time and again but who refuses to ignite, but who is chosen time and again and again and....Lennon and Wrong-Phillips, both flatterers to deceive. Milner, a one-paced work-horse who has been unable to train for three days because of a bout of ague, chosen to mark the American's key player, Donovan. Lampard, scorer of thousands of goals in the Premiership where everyone and anyone can score (apart from Heskey), but who can't shoot for toffee in international matches, linked again with Gerrard, whose face has the tortured look of a man who has sold his soul and skills to the devil of Liverpool and who last season suddenly realised it, when every human being in the world - in the igloos of the Arctic, in the mud huts of Pygmyland , in the yurts of Mongolia and Thornham - knows that they cannot play together. Every mother in the world must have said at some time "You mustn't play with him. He'll end up getting you in trouble!". So why doesn't Capello say it? Capello's is the "Tony Hancock school of football management" - he who cannot head is picked as centre-half, he who is weediest is picked as mid-field enforcer, he who cannot catch becomes goalie, he who cannot shoot becomes Heskey. And Rooney is tired and frustrated and lonely and, sorry to say it, ineffectual. So Copello is Tommy Cooper after all, a Steve Mclaren without and umbrella, a Graham Taylor without a turnip. The USA, a team comprising of rejects from Watford and West Brom, journeymen from Fulham and American Soccer! leagues, and a star player who was dropped from the Everton team after a brief loan spell, were too good for us for long periods of the game. Oh dear oh dear oh dear! Roll on the next game. You have my full permission to turn this into a poem. Name it In Memoriam, or Lament For Alf And The Boys Of Sixty-six. Bobby Charlton was at yesterday's match. Why didn't Capello bring him on?"

More responses like this please. Let's live while we can.

My New Elizabethan World Cup Sonnets 1. v USA

By a spooky mis-chance, though I watched all four on TV I managed to be out of the room for all four goals previous to the first England game. Not having HD, I didn't miss -

And so the first two goals I do not miss
In this World Cup both come from Eng-ger-land,
The first from Gerard, like a lover's kiss
Sudden, sweet - the second, Green's self-fumbling hand.
The night was African but winter chill,
The kind we like to get our kit on for,
And get our balls across, and shoot to kill
As Stevie did, and then that Green barn door.
The date was set as Lady Luck's perfume
Filled all our heads, our white knight stormed the keep
Capello's dragon-face burst open in a plume
Of wizard glee, our Green knight...made her weep.
At least we scored, that grey suit seems to say
Slumped, solo, on Green's dirty sheet next day.

June 11, 2010

My World Cup Dream

I mean - literally - the dream I woke up with this morning. I was on the touchline for the US game and Beckham was there in an enormous othopaedic boot. It was about a foot high. When I queried his presence in that condition, he grinned cheerfully and said in that boyish twang,'I've been selected for senior field duties. Anything to help out.'
'What - you're actually playing - but you're injured?'
'Yes.' said Emeritus Golden Balls,' with a likeable shrug.
'But that's incredible!'
What didn't seem incredible - in the dream - was that I was also about to go on as sub. No, I'm not injured - well, that football-related injury down a railway embankment en route to a Bristol City game which left put me out for the rest of the 2008 season still troubles me - but I'm 53 and have no experience of football above a village green standard.
And it seemed perfectly natural when Beckham long-balled me soon after from midfield with an inch-perfect assist which I scuffed-tripped over past the keeper with all the grace and assurance (don't knock it - it works) of an accidental Crouch deflection. In most dreams, especially mine, the ball just won't go in. This did. It was wonderful.
Back to reality. I woke to a newspaper picture of a third choice English captain who can't speak and a singularly ugly and unprepossessing team in grey Marks and Spencers drill looking very ordinary there (with the exception of Rooney, already booked in a friendly for swearing at the ref, who looks like a potato but who in form, a genuine great and the heart and lungs of the side ) among the galaticos of Brazil, Spain and (maybe) Argentina.

Ah yes,but it's chilly in South Africa this time. For once, we have the weather on our side. And a fierce Italian manager who can out-think tricksy Latin tacticians because he is one. And a dead ball specialist who can come on for 'senior field duties'. (No, that was just the dream.) If only we had a few foreign players as well, we might still do it...

I worked out that we probably need to get past Serbia in the Last 16, France in the quarters and Italy in the semis (the newspaper says Brazil) to lose to Spain in the final. We can't meet Portugal until the final this time and I don't think they'll get there anyway, or possibly even out of a group containing Brazil and Ivory Coast. Simple as that.

And then I really woke up?

June 10, 2010

June 2006 v Portugal

Er Indoors had gone to Barcelona so not only did I have nothing to distract myself from forty years of hurt, I also had to cook my own meals!
I went for a 36 mile cycle ride– a 5 hour pub crawl either side of a pub lunch - to ‘take my mind off it’. Apart from a team weakness on the left side (the feminine side?) that cried out like a lost childhood for Ryan Giggs, this surely was the best England side - since 1998… 1996… nay, that Mullery-graced 1970 team that was even better than 1966...
I cooked dinner. In stages. I ate my veg in the doorway so I could keep an eye on the meat between eyefuls of Ronaldino, Rooney and red wine. ‘We can win this. Beckham don’t get sent off. Rooney don’t get crocked…’
Something exploded in the kitchen. I swear left the boys for no more than a second. By the time I came back, Rooney was injured, Beckham sent off...
No. The other way round.
Another ‘last chance’ of seeing 1966 come to the finest generation of English footballers for a generation - in the bin with my dinner.
And we all know -deep down - it's all going to happen again.