Sunday, 27 June 2010

Why Huff and Puff Just Isn't Enough!

Perhaps reality has finally bitten? Perhaps there are no more epic stories? Perhaps we're just not very good? Supporting England is always frustrating, but as we fell disastrously short with an unheroic 4- 1 thrashing at the hands of Germany, I couldn't help but feel that it was the end of the line not just for the golden generation but of a whole cultural narrative that's sustained the myth of the plucky underdog since the end of the Second World War.

England were inferior; technically, physically and imaginatively and the idea that determination, belief and commitment can win out against players as sophisticated as the Germans, is as outdated as Spam Fritters and Anderson Shelters.

I watched the game with Holger and Kay, two sons of Germany and old friends from my school days. They were kind enough to contain their obvious joy at the spanking and even feigned embarrassment and apology in a bid to allow me a retinue of dignity.

The problem is without the myths English football has very little. At half time there was still a chance of a return to the breech as, fuelled by the adversity of an outrageous disallowed goal, we seemed set for a courageous fightback, but this is the age of enlightenment and our crude superstitious faith had no answer to the unremitting logic of the German counter.

We are not in the same league as Germany... or Argentina... or Brazil... or The Netherlands ... or Spain ... or Portugal and no amount of Dunkirk spirit can make up for the lack of self-esteem that seems to be inbred amongst England's sporting elite. We simply don't like winning and find more reward in bravely avoiding defeat. We like sports that contain and scupper.... snooker rather than pool... rain affected cricket matches rather than fast flowing basketball. Today in front of a global audience the mean and mannered nature of such a philosophy was nakedly exposed. Before the game we were prematurely dreading penalties. The Germans didn't give it a thought and that's why they didn't need them!

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