European Football Championship on my mind and excuses on why England lost - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

European Football Championship on my mind and excuses on why England lost

At the time of writing this I am sitting, sipping a cold beer counting down the hours until the European Football Championships quarterfinal match between England and Italy. (For the record, Italy won 4-2 on penalty kicks, but let’s continue, and pretend it didn’t happen yet.)

It is going to be a close match, too close to have a clear favourite in terms of ability, so pundits are relying on past history and national stereotypes to inform their commentary. England have only won one of the previous encounters between the two nations. But there have only been four.

Both teams have given under par performances thus far in the tournament, although Italy managed a creditable draw with current World and European Champions Spain and an injury hit England squad – without a manager until the introduction of surprise candidate Roy Hodgeson until only a month ago – have so far exceeded expectations, not only by topping their qualifying group, but by actually playing like a team.

Roy Hodgeson

I know this may be difficult for Americans to understand. I do not intend to make it easy by referring to football as “soccer”, and whereas the Superbowl may be referred to as Gridirons World Championships, it is hardly that, as no teams from anywhere else in the world other than the US take part. This is true international sporting warfare.

The European Championships and World Cup are four yearly tournaments where teams which have successfully navigated a two year qualification campaign gather together, this time in Poland and The Ukraine, to battle it out to a finish over a month long period.

Now the caveat. I, like most English people do not enjoy football, rather, I suffer from it. As each tournament comes around, our media machine grinds into its ever predictable and despicable routine of building up expectation whilst seeking to destroy national morale by undermining the actions and opinions of “our team.”

Hardly a tournament has passed in my lifetime without some elements of the press sensationalising some usually harmless indiscretions committed by one or other of the players whom they moronically claim to be “a role model for the nation’s youth” while attempting to load the blame for the loss of national pride and prestige, our role in world affairs and lets face it, the empire on the shoulders of the poor misfortunate.

This time around it is different. Not only because we currently have half a side unavailable through injury, or because we have a manager new to the job, but, in my opinion, because there is the small matter of the Leveson inquiry into media ethics going on just now.

Yes, at long last our media are being held up to long overdue scrutiny and seen to be the amoral, hypocritical cess pit the readers and victims of it have long known it to be.

There are reams of testimony and miles of newspaper reportage to be read – if you can be bothered – all of which points towards a conclusion a seeing eye dog could find. Something needs to be done about it. Highly unlikely though that anything will be done, British politicians are too used to courting the media, more than likely there will be some watered down, half assed attempt at putting things in order, which will suit no-one but those whom this inquiry was set up to investigate.

But back to football.

England won the World Cup once, back in 1966. Since then, we have singularly failed to match that tournament performance in the intervening 23 European and world tournaments. Why it should be so is a mystery than the combined brains of Steven Hawking and Albert Einstein would fail to explain, even if either of them were football fans, which I doubt.

English club sides, though liberally sprinkled with foreign players it is true, have managed to compete with the best teams in Europe and win their fair share of trophies, so it cannot be that the lack of winning mentalities of the players could be the missing X factor.

English fans are amongst the most medicated, sorry, dedicated in the world, so lack of the support of what is often referred to as “the 12th man” cannot be to blame. Indeed, if awful football songs sung by the fans were a factor, we would have hardly lost a game over the last half century.

It isn’t down to the old chestnut of “bad refereeing decisions”, as anyone who follows football knows the mechanisms of the laws of Karma and accepts that these things even themselves out over time. We well know, that what goes around comes around, regardless of how long we have to wait in (the usually vain hope) of seeing the cycle turn in our favour.

No, there is no reason, logical or otherwise that can fully explain the lack of success enjoyed by the England team and its fans over the last half century. So we shall have to search for the illogical ones instead.

England have traditionally had to deal with two burdens when competing in major footballing tournaments. One is the weight of expectation put upon their shoulders by their eternally patriotic fans, and the other is the weight of sheer bigoted hatred radiating from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland towards the team each time they compete. I have lived in Wales and now reside in Scotland and know this to be true. In fact, as a referendum on Scotland’s continued membership of the United Kingdom (although it will not be phrased as such)  draws even closer, this feeling has intensified in many Scottish (plastic, brave) hearts.

Step forward the scientists at CERN and a certain My Royston Hodgeson. The scientists at CERN – that multi billion doughnut in the ground underneath the Swiss French border that seeks the Higgs Boson – and My Royston “Roy” Hodgeson, who have between them re-written the laws od physics, something that, ironically enough, “Scotty” from Star Trek could never do.

The scientists at CERN have discovered a new, Scottish sub-atomic particle they have named the “Ah-get2-f*ck” which has hitherto only existed in small quantities, peaking in 2 yearly cycles synchronous with England qualification for footballing tournaments, but which in recent years (mainly since the release of the film Braveheart) has grown to dangerous levels.

Interestingly, in Wales a similar particle exists although in markedly smaller quantities and it is speculated that these particles do not grow in numbers as a direct result of the Welsh rugby team managing to be better than that of England and may therefore be tied into an intangible quality known as “National Pride”.

This quality exists worldwide, but it is only in Scotland that the anti-particle to national pride seems to be found in any appreciable quantity. I refer or course to the “Ah-get2-f*ck”. Once again, this particle appears in vastly greater quantities in direct response to English sporting success.

Scientists say it has no measurable mass but a surprisingly bitter taste.

It is here that Roy Hodgeson comes into his own, for, although previously unknown in the world of particle physics, he has managed to harness the effects of the “Ah-get2-f*ck” and in so doing, out-do the late James Doonan AKA Scotty, and single handedly change the laws of physics by finding a way to utilise these particles to fuel the England football team.

His experiments have yet to provide a tangible conclusion, but early experiments have proved to be extremely promising, with the “Ah-get2-f*ck” powered England team managing, if not an impressive, then at least a competent qualification from their group.

Roy’s theories have yet to be further tested in the knock out stages, but the early results have been most promising, and it is hoped that the levels of particles emanating from Scotland tonight – if properly harnessed – will be sufficient to enable the team to progress further.

Should that be the case, I would like to be the first to thank our Pictish brethren for their assistance in this hour of national need. Should England fail to beat Italy and progress further in the tournament, it will doubtless be due to a sudden and unexpected increase in love toward England from north of Hadrian’s wall and be nothing to do with a football team that has already far outstripped all expectations of it.

(Feature photo: Still from documentary on England’s 1966 World Cop Victory.)



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