Mark Critchley watched the friendly match between England and Ghana last night.
Here they are. Our boys. No, not them I mean… Fine, alright then, not our boys – our ‘other’ boys, the ones playing against our ‘real’ boys. Yes of course it’s ok to support both. It’s the twenty-first century for fuck’s sake, everybody rutted each other at Woodstock and now we’re all friends. Stop talking about chains. Remember Ghana? Colours; choruses; that odd little dance of Asamoah Gyan’s he uses in order to talk to the animals or something? Why of course you do. They were cute. Theirs were the shoulders upon which ‘the hopes of a continent’ rested just last summer. In a mass as diverse as a scattered plethora of Pic’n’Mix, one billion people Africa-wide rallied behind one relatively unrepresentative national team, don’t you know? That’s a fact. It just is.
And why wouldn’t they? Ghana are great. What’s more, they’re English.
Except obviously, they’re not. It’s just that having been knocked out on penalties, dealt an extra cold fizzog clout of sporting injustice and then found worthy of a Daily Mail crypto-fascist polemic, they bloody should be. Yeah, let’s have a word with them about that. For now though, I guess we’ll make do with Marcel Desailly (I like the parts where he celebrates a goal). Oh, and an international friendly…
Defiantly acting with independent thought and maintaining relentless bowel continence throughout, gutsy Ghana remarkably earned a draw against the stripped-down, bric-a-brac but ‘bright’ future of English football at Wembley last night. The Black Stars even managed to finish their cereal the previous morning. All by themselves. A bowl for all Africa. Bravo.
Upon the full-time whistle, the overwhelming sentiment seeping at us via every orifice of Adrian Chiles’ riddled mug was that the score draw was ultimately the result everyone wanted – and seemingly, the English more than anyone else. Acquiescence even came from Andy Townsend who, following Gyan’s 90th minute equaliser, left his fine-toothed wrecking ball in its box and shied away from his typical breakdown of another broken English defence. No, a draw was fair; a draw was right. Otherwise, Marcel might have been sad.
And we can’t have Marcel being sad. Indeed for anyone English, white and to left of Walt Disney, the sight of eleven dejected young millionaires yanking hunched carcasses off a football pitch following their narrow defeat to former colonial masters would be enough to reach for the sulphuric acid and start scrubbing. Out damn spot.
That’s why, according to most, the Ghanaian fans last night were ‘wonderful’, that’s why a talented young squad in good form surprisingly played with ‘excitement’ and ‘vigour’, and it’s also why Desailly may as well fill his underpants with jollof rice and rain dance next time he’s on air, considering how his eccentric musings on a midfield three are already treated like some lost Oriental treasure. This isn’t positive discrimination however, it’s languid self-hatred. Us English are giant imperial scumbags, and by Joan of Arc, do we know it.
Our football team, however, aren’t. I’m an England supporter; one who’s not all that fond of singing the national anthem or working quips about generation-wiping World Wars to the tune of Camptown Races. In fact, the majority of this country’s history really fucking disgusts me. I don’t know, maybe I’ve gone my mad. Maybe, as a great man once said, ‘the game’s gone mad’. My views, either way, are about as left-wing as an I.R.A. bake sale above an alternative book shop. Yet still, I’m an England supporter.
Whilst never as explicitly nauseating as its absolute opposite, the total rejection of the England national team on account of them being English is almost as dunderheaded and offensive. Maybe we’d all like to be able to attribute the slave trade solely to John Terry, or pretend Ashley Young had a hand in the Boston Massacre. Sorry but I’ve checked the books, it’s really not their fault. Nor is it football’s. Fans disillusioned solely by the tubthumping tabloids, jingoistic Jerry-bashing or centuries worth of us acting like utter shitheads should not liberally pass off support to other national sides, just like they shouldn’t dress up as Al Jolson for a Wu-Tang gig. It’s awkward, puerile and one step further than the disdainful inclusion of Chiles and some professional hacks.
Instead, the disaffected supporter should realise two truths. Firstly, that football is not the fuck face, rat race, ‘my-desk-at-four-post-haste’, dog-eating, wife-beating, ladder-climbing workathon competition of the real world – it is its catharsis. Wish to totally abhor and vent guts at eleven chaps wearing different colours for ninety minutes? You can. Not entirely satisfied? Go ahead and hate some more sir, because secondly, in comparison to that atrocious world we all attempt to escape, football really doesn’t matter.
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