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2 July 2010

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The Julia Carney Column

England World Cup shocker

I'M WORRIED about England’s progress in the World Cup. As we go to print they’re third in their group and the clash with Slovenia is going to be decisive. Ladies and gentlemen, comrades, there is a distinct possibility England might be going home early, and that’s no cause for celebration.

I’m panicking. I’m checking the sports pages of the papers. I monitor the BBC for updates on injuries. Is Rooney’s ankle troubling him? Will Capello bring back Joe Cole? I haven’t been this tense about a sporting event since we beat Galway in 2005 to win the All-Ireland.

Now in case there’s any misunderstanding here, I don’t care who wins the World Cup. I wasn’t even that bothered we didn’t qualify, though I was outraged that we didn’t make it because of dodgy antics by some surrender monkey of a Frenchman. They left us holding the bag in 1798 and now they screwed us again. By Christ, I’m glad we left them to the Boche and if Pierre and Michelle don’t mind themselves we’ll give the Germans the nod again to go across the border.

And don’t think Merkel wouldn’t do it. It’s been 70 years since Germany invaded someone. That’s the longest period in their history that mob’s gone without wandering into another country shooting people and molesting their livestock, and they’re itchy as hell.

No, like all right-thinking people, I have no interest in soccer (football is GAA, sin é) and if I want to see mindless, pampered, spoilt prima donnas fall down and whinge about it, I’ll pop into a crèche in Killiney.

But I want to see England do well. I really do. I’m offering novenas for it. I want them to top their group and get into the second round. I want Rooney to be slamming them into the net from all angles. I want Gerard to split defences with passes so accurate that grown men tear out their eyes with their own hands because they know they will never see something so beautiful again.

Then I want them in the second round. I want them to beat a good team, maybe the Dutch or Uruguay. I want them dancing in the streets of London and Newcastle. I want the hype. I want pub landlords to be giving away free beer and I want 10,000 English children to be named after Wayne Rooney. I want to watch UTV presenters get misty eyed. I want the papers to remind people about 1966, three lions on a shirt, Jules Rimet still gleaming. I want them, as the Carlsberg ad says, to do it for Bobby.

And then I want them to lose in the quarter-finals. On penalties. To Germany. Oh, yes! Oh yes indeed. I can see the game in my mind’s eye. England go ahead in the first half. They’re dominant, in control, on top of their game. In the dying seconds of the second half, Germany get awarded a dubious free kick on the edge of the penalty box. Though the resulting goal is clearly offside, the linesman’s flag doesn’t go up and we’re into extra time, and then penalties.

And then they lose. My friends, I’ve had a good life. I’ve been lucky. I’ve drunk fine champagnes. I’ve dined in five-star restaurants. I’ve enjoyed the most succulent meals and the finest chocolates.

But nothing, absolutely nothing, tastes better than the salty goodness of the tears of an English football fan in the aftermath of a penalty shoot-out with Germany. Trust me. This is what Jesus drinks.

Of course, holding these beliefs does make me a racist, it seems. HMV in Scotland has had to withdraw their ‘Anyone But England’ World Cup posters and T-shirts because some pillock made a complaint to the police about the shirts inciting racial hatred. Frankly, I don’t think the Scots need much incitement to hate the English, but every little helps.

By the way, that’s the problem with the well-meaning liberal do-gooder stuff on hate crimes and so on. It undermines the right to free speech and we end up in some politically correct fantasy world where I can’t hate the English, or any of the other nine nations I have a grudge against (No, Mexico, I haven’t forgotten), without being hauled in front of some judge.

Not for me. Nor is this chin-stroking sentiment from some commentators about how we need to get over 800 years of oppression and start cheering on the English. Women shouldn’t stick with abusive partners and people who were colonised shouldn’t cheer for their colonisers. Simple as. You don’t see the Poles waving German flags.

But only a fool wants England to lose all their matches. That’s the kind of person who prefers a McDonald’s to a fine meal, or an alcopop to a good pint of stout. You need to build it up, you need the anticipation, you need their bitter disappointment to be all the greater because, this time, this time they really thought they could do it.

So please, come on, England. Do it for Bobby but, most of all, do it for me.

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