World Cup Links vol.2
Want to express your disgust at the Azzuri’s dismal showing in the World Cup in Italian? Look no further than Sabotage Times, where Terry Daley gives you an indispensable guide to football swearing in Italian. If you’ve read Tim Parks’ A Season with Verona you might have the basic “Vaffanculo! Dio Cane!”, but this is much more advanced. Che cazzo, arbitro. Fuorigioco Quagliarella? Mannaggia a tutti i santi del calendario!
Disgusted at England’s dismal showing against Algeria, but can’t quite put your finger on why they were so bad? Check out twohundredpercent and Rob Freeman’s clinical dissection of how it was mainly Steven Gerrard’s fault for his positional indiscipline. One thing Rob didn’t mention was that Gerrard made no tackles or interceptions in the game either, his sulk at having to play on the left manifesting itself in being a defensive liability too. He was much better against Slovenia, but it was a shameful abdication of personal responsibility by an England captain.
Disgusted at France’s dismal showing in the World Cup? Twohundredpercent again is the place to go, for dotmund’s genuinely brilliant re-imagining of the Bayeux Tapestry.
More seriously, From A Left Wing addresses the way in which Africa and African culture is being appropriated and commercialised by FIFA and the advertisers trying to make a buck out of the World Cup. I won’t hear a bad word against Shakira though, I’m sure she must be an innocent party.
Less seriously, the latest installment of the World Cup reports from the wingco, to persuade anyone who hasn’t yet done so to buy Send Them Victorious. Below the cut is the wingco’s report on England’s glorious triumph over Slovenia.
EMINENT AND EXCEPTIONAL ENGLAND ADMINISTER FIRM BUT FAIR KICKING TO THE DESPERATE, DANGLING TESTICLES OF SLOVENLY SLOVENIA 1-0
“Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Laibach! Your boys took a hell of a beating!”
It is often remarked by association football commentators that you can “only beat the team in front of you”. England made a nonsense of this at Rorke’s Drift, of course, when we beat the team that was not only in front of us, but also behind and to either side of us. Moreover, in beating Slovenia, we weren’t just beating this spurious, new-fangled principality who only recently became aware of their own existence. We were also beating Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Germany and all the other upstarts who dare to issue propaganda to their own gullible peoples asserting that they would stand a fighting chance against our own Upson, Milner, Johnson and co. Tonight, clad in the red of Empire which in better times has splotched the buttock of the globe like a raw welt from the thrashing our imperial superiority, we showed that as a footballing fighting force, not even a nation which contains more mountains than people, whose principal export is glowering men in antlers playing timpani-based beat music for sallow young men in black suits, can best us.
There is little to be said about the stray piece of Balkan jetsam that is Slovenia, except that nature, in Her wisdom, made their men unusually tall, so as to make them easier to spot in immigration queues, pull out of the line and put straight on the first boat back to Central Europe. Doubtless they have poets, but when every word ends in the syllable “ic”, it is a jolly sight too easy to shine in this department. The National Anthems were the mark of our disparity. Ours was yodelled lustily by every man jack of our players, except for Milner, who, being Northern and subject to the speech impediment common to the people of that region, wisely kept his mouth shut, realising that to do otherwise would be akin to smearing the flag with tripe, or delivering Princess Anne the brutal kick up her jodhpured backside she so patently doesn’t deserve. As for the Slovaks, so tediously derivative were its strains that it will doubtless be the subject of lawsuits from the estates of half a dozen eminent 19th century composers. This alone should have entitled to us to a direct free kick at the opening of play.
Instead, the game begin with England immediately on the attack, crushing the Slavs beneath our hooves as we thundered goalward. If Glenn Johnson’s initial first touch was as adept as a that of a seal trying to grasp a bar of wet soap, if Matthew Upson’s deceptive combination of slowness and gormlessness meant he might as well have worn a giant, deely bopper-style headpiece in flashing neon letters reading “LIABILITY! LIABILITY! LIABILITY!”, if Milner’s opening contributions were as risible as if he were stumbling along the touchline with his shorts fallen about his ankles, then I, for one, certainly did not notice. Once again, England were playing with the sort of blood, beef, thunder, passion, gravy, wind, guts, fire, horsepower, sprouts, commitment and Yorkshire pudding that precludes the need to pass the ball calmly, and slowly, in a fucking straight line every fucking now and again.
Inevitably our endeavour was swiftly rewarded as Defoe, who, for obvious reasons will be among those players travelling on the lower deck of the bus during the victory parade through London, showed his humble commitment to the cause by helping into the net a cannoned cross from Milner. One nation roared in unison, the rest quailed, not least our opposition the Slovankians, who were so bewildered at this stage they had no more idea of precisely which nation they were than the rest of us do.
By now, it was simply a question of whether England need bother scoring any more goals, or simply declare and not come out for the second half. In grudging obeisance to a technicality in the rules we did, however. Steven Gerrard commanded midfield, varying bits of it, his resolved expression suggestive of a man whose brain resounds to more than the incessant, Scouse drone of a hesitant “Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”. Wayne Rooney was calmness personified, displaying none of the sort of superheated, hairy impetuosity that makes you wonder if he shouldn’t be clad in an icepack bodysuit at half time in order to calm him the fuck down and not keep chasing the ball like a famished fucking cartoon coyote going after a fucking road runner. As for mascot Capello, who, amusing to relate has been somewhat grumpy and downcast in recent days, like an organ grinder whose monkey is refusing to hold out its tin cup, he entertained us all, bounding about on the touchline like some comic opera buffoon, as if about to hitch up his trousers, reveal his garters and bellow “GO COMPARRRE!” One could even go so far as to say he has made a token, modest, inadvertent contribution to England’s success, in at least preserving their good temper. Perhaps he could even be allowed onto the victory parade bus, in the capacity of driver.
As the final whistle approached, the Slaves of the former central Europe showed their desperation by making a brace of efforts on the England goal, whose ineptitude only heightened the jollity of millions of English viewers. As the final whistle blew, celebrations were untinged with the sentiment that, Jesus H fucking Crapstick, in a group we should have conga’d routinely through given our players and fucking resources, we only just made it out of by the width of a flake off a fucking scab on a gnat’s fucking kneecap. We are dead meat waiting to be fucking roasted.
The crowning and memorial moment came from John Terry. “On the field, you can rely on him to be entirely focussed on the game,” remarked the commentator on the British Broadcasting Broadcasting Corporation. Yes, indeed, Mr Terry can, and deserves to be congratulated for not actually shagging players’s wives out on the pitch during the match. But he deserves even more kudos than that. Who among us can forget the image of him, during a last ditch Slovenian effort on goal, projecting himself sideways on, swimming through the air head first? He was a spermatozoa, the ball his ovum. It was, for this old campaigner, in a very real sense the most stimulating moment of this tournament so far, the most engorging, most reverberating, most pulsating . . . Seppings! The bucket!