I don’t normally watch football matches. Being a devotee of the oval ball, the earnest pontifications of soccer pundits with their verbal clichés, and the overpaid, tattooed brats who play the game pass me by. To say nothing of the foul people who trot along to matches for the pleasure of yelling abuse without getting arrested and goading rival teams with racial taunts. At White Hart Lane, for example, the players are met with cries of ‘Jew boy! Jew boy!’ as they come on to the pitch. It’s expected. It’s a kind of routine which everyone accepts as quite normal and, if anything, rather amusing.
So, no, footy isn’t my favourite game. But being also a patriotic Englishman, there is always the guilty pleasure of watching the national team crashing out of a competition they never had a snowball’s hope of winning. Watching the England v. Ukraine game last night, albeit over the top of the paper, was all about Rooney: Rooney was rusty, Rooney was not as sharp as he should be, Rooney wasn’t match fit, Rooney should have scored with that header, Rooney with an easy goal, Rooney with the broadest smile in Ukraine, Rooney back to top form, who else but Rooney? Etc., etc.. No mention of the strange arrangement attached to the top of his head – the famous trichoid implant, otherwise known as an Elton. Going against the run of play, as it were, when most of his peers going a bit thin on top simply get the missus to give them a Number One trim with the electric razor and have done with it, Wayne spends a day’s salary on a sophisticated syrup. Would his first half header have been quite as timid in days of yore before the artifical growth arrived? I think not. His second half goal was hardly more confident. He tapped it in as though it were a toy balloon. You could almkst hear his trichoilogist saying, ‘It’s fine Wayne, old son, but just go easy on it till it settles down.’ And did you notice the premature grey round the neck line?
Anyway, the great thing was that Ukraine’s goal was disallowed, the first time in living memory such a decision had gone England’s way. And we won – so we can now all gear up for the Tim Henman (aka Andy Murray) Effect next Sunday when Italy will knock us out.
And talking of tennis players, tell me one thing: why do you never (thank heavens) see a tennis player spitting on court? They surely exert as much energy and effort during a match as any footballer but manage to keep their spit bottled up, so to speak. Not so our lads in Ukraine – or wherever in the world football is played. Gobbing seems to be part of the game. No other sport, not even rubgy football, produces as much spittal as soccer. Swimmers don’t expectorate, so why do footballers?