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Tranmere Rovers & Cheltenham Town Stare Into The Abyss
Regular – or indeed occasional – readers of the When Saturday Comes magazine forum will probably already be aware of the writings of the Wing Commander, the last living remnant of the British Empire and a man who holds a very particular type of Englishman very close to his bosom. Having already had one book of his reports published (and details of how to purchase this are below), we are delighted to welcome him back to Twohundredpercent for his views on Englands match on Friday night against Sweden.
It was a Eurovision Song Contest that provided the cue for the Portuguese, unwisely, to overthrow their paternalistic leader, a Mr Salazar. It could be remarked of Portugal that they were born, that night, as a modern nation. The same also can be said of the Swedes – same year, same competition. They won, with a piece of phonetic nonsense entitled “Wadalu”, thereby making their very first mark on history. Prior to that, little or nothing is known of Sweden (mistakenly spelled as “Sverige” by the locals), though some settlements and stone dwellings there can be traced back as far as the 1950s. Even today, there is uncertainty as to where, precisely Sweden is located on the map.
Today, the Swedes are noted for a handful of things. The first is their national dish. Fond of their meat but fonder, it seems, of their cattle, they cannot bring themselves to commit their livestock to the abbatoir, and so instead, snip from them what they regard as the tastiest part of their anatomy, the testicles. It makes for quite the tableau to envisage them, of an evening at their smallholdings, chewing away on their meatballs as their eunuch bulls look on.
The murder rates of Sweden are low, never an impressive measure of a country’s virility. Indeed, there has only been one murder in the country’s history, that of their Prime Minister, Olaf Palme. Unfortunately, lacking as they do the detective skills that are the sole redeeming feature of their near-neighbours the Danes, the case has never been solved.
A nation of gonad-chomping, bungling Watsons, then, we can thus far deduce. At least, however, their numbers are relatively low. They are kept so by the government, who, in a state-sponsored scheme have fostered a cinematic style, practised by the likes of Mr Ingmar Bergman, so bleak and abysmally despondent as to encourage a healthy rate of suicide among the adult populace on an annual basis. This “self-culling” scheme has worked well; what a shame that the French, who instead, keep their people excessively alive and numerous with the jolly capers of M. Jacques Tati, do not adopt something similar.
Which brings us to our next point. We have established scientifically in previous dispatches that the French smell far too much. The Swedes, by contrast, smell far too little. They smell of beechwood and neutrality. They are practically odourless. One ought to smell a little, of something; as ever, the English have found the happy medium. There is about us a tangible but pleasing mustiness, typically a redolence of oak, tweed, decanted sherry, boiled carrots, baking soda, spotted dick, faithful hound, teak, silverware polishing agent and a subtle hint of dried discharge.
With the fixture delayed, the Lord God Almighty having chosen earlier to rain down bolts of lightning and thunder on the Ukrainians and the French for daring to pit themselves against England in the same group, The National Anthems were struck up, a further measure of the disparity between our two nations – we who have built up an Empire through thrift, global commerce and an uncanny ability to kick a day’s work out of the backside of distant, lazy natives, they, the Swedes, who have somehow found a way whereby we pay them for us to construct our own furniture. Our own anthem was brayed with customary insistence; every man jack of the England team bellowing as if to convey to God that when we bid him to save the Queen, this is not so much a suggestion as an order, directly from the FA. The Swedish national anthem… well, in a disgusting oversight, there is, technically, no such thing as a Swedish National Anthem according to their constitution. Something along the lines of “Can you hear the drums, Fernando?” would, therefore, have easily fitted the bill. Instead, they opted for this bilge, doubtless composed by a chinless little man with a droopy moustache after a trip to the cinema.
Despite the fixture being essentially over and decided at this point, many spectators chose to stay and witness the concluding formality of the game, which began at a cracking pelt – an especially cracking pelt, in fact. None of this “settling on the ball and thinking about what you’re going to do with it” balderdash favoured by some of our more morbidly cerebral opponents. Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young looked on as the action unfolded. Even in the midst of the fray, captain Steven Gerrard still thought to fire a few balls into the crowd as a gesture of goodwill to the locals, for them to take home and keep, sell or eat. Gary Neville, former England right back, has travelled with the team in an immobile but advisory capacity to the younger players; John Terry is also performing the same function. With typical tactical English sophistication, Joe Hart was given a free role in the England six yard box. He in no way exuded the air of a cocky “everyone-look-at-this-bit-of-gum-I’m-chewing” twat who is karmically building towards the most colossal goalkeeping gaffe of all time, possibly involving dropped shorts as well as a dropped ball. England’s efforts were inevitably rewarded with a goal, Andy Carroll leaping with the aplomb that has served him so well in the past at Liverpool, at Becher’s Brook, to nod home. He had every right to look pleased with himself, sliding genitals first camera-ward – there would be an extra sugarlump in his nosebag at half time.
Come the second half and Glen Johnson added to England’s tally with a second goal, though, owing to some blunder with the electronic scoreboard, this was mistakenly awarded to the Swedes. They themselves added to the confusion, appearing to think that this was the net they themselves should be scoring into, as Mellberg, a fellow who apparently uses his own chin as a doormat, headed in what was counted as a second for the Swedes. A farcical misunderstanding but England were unruffled. One only had to witness Scott Parker, the way he would gather up the ball in the centre circle in a promising position, dribble around two or three imaginary plastic cones, then pass back to his full-back. He vindicated the decision to travel to this tournament and play without any sort of functioning fucking midfield (the “Lampard Manoeuvre”).
Kitman and groundskeeper Roy Hodgson looked on from the touchline with concern, as if to say, “’Ooever did these markings wants shooting, proper botch job.” It is an amusing fact, like one of those head waiters who can do all kinds of whistling tricks, that the fellow Hodgson is fluent in several languages. This must be of assistance as he scoots about town looking for pots of dubbin and detergent for the dressing room! Naturally, England prevailed; full list of scorers, Carroll, Walcott, Wellbeck. For obvious reasons that is only partially ideal but no matter – this was every inch an English victory and just as well. For if UEFA had seen fit to award Sweden the tie on the basis of those two mis-awarded goals, the youth of England, on fire, would have risen up and ransacked every IKEA store in the Kingdom, breaking in and dismantling the items on sale, reducing them to piles of plywood and screws, to be reassembled from scratch by some luckless blighter or blighters. One can only imagine the misery.
(Readers are reminded that the Wing Commander is intended as a satire of a certain set of English values and not of the nations that the team plays against – but you already knew that, didn’t you?)
You can purchase the Wing Commander’s book, Send Them Victorious, through When Saturday Comes, here. Note that for regular readers of this site, the cover art may have a somewhat familiar styling to it.
You can follow David Stubbs on Twitter by clicking here. David’s dulcet tones can also be heard on the award-nominated Cafe Calcio, for which you can find old episodes here.
You can follow Twohundredpercent on Twitter by clicking here. And now that Euro 2012 has begun, what better way of keeping in touch with our Euro 2012 spreadsheet? You can download it here (for Excel 2007), whilst a version that will be compatible with older versions of Excel is available here.
Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.
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