Saturday, 12 June 2010

Saturday 12 June 2010 – WORLD CUP DAY TWO

Last night I had a dream that England were playing against USA, spending much of the game being penned in their own penalty area. Then suddenly out of nowhere Frank Lampard goes “fuck it” and takes the ball, dribbling it the entire length of the pitch and knocking it over the American keeper at which point everybody begins celebrating the wonder goal from John Terry. It’s a travesty.

On this note David Cameron today will be speaking with Barack Obama about England v USA on two accounts. As to which takes priority is open to debate judging by the awkward message to camera from Cameron to the England team and nation.

Elsewhere regarding the apparent grudge the American take on proceedings over at the Gawker blog is offering a useful “How To Hate England” guide.

My weekly shopping trip to Asda today feels fraught with hostility. As per routine I buy The Guardian and The Sun. One newspaper comes with an unofficial match programme while the other comes with an England flag. You can probably guess which is which. My shopping experience however takes a dip as the woman taking care of the self service checkouts stares at me scanning my purchases as if I were a hooligan or a thief.

Back home the Saturday morning Danny Baker show is coming live from Johannesburg where they are one hour ahead of us (as Baker likes to keep reminding us). Within his show he manages to convey the excitement of the competition more than any other coverage so far. As he attended the opening ceremony he went with a microphone and his running comment/observations of events unfolding out of him is the greatest coverage of such a thing ever heard.

Today I bump into an old friend who I haven’t seen in a number of years. As we exchange details of our various plans for the England this evening he tells me of how in Dalston they are setting up a large scream nearby the Vortex Jazz Club and having two jazz bands play during the game representing England and the USA and playing whenever their designated team is in possession. For a moment I am genuinely tempted to turn up for the event.

As today’s first game builds up on television and the radio I instead find myself sat on a train platform awaiting a train to take me to Kilburn for a little girl’s eighth birthday party barbecue. There is no football in little girl’s barbecues. Nice food though. Eventually at the barbecue a skinhead with a goatee in an old England shirt tells me how Greece gift the game to South Korea with goals in each half including one from Park Ji-Sung to give them a surprise 2-0 win.

The second game I miss today is the much fancied Argentina opening up shop against the unpredictable Nigeria. There is a definite chaos theory potentially at work with this game. Again it is through the bearded skinhead that I learn Argentina win this game 1-0 through an early goal from Heinze. Word is it that both teams perform very well.

While the England v USA game is kicking I find myself sat on a train wheeling its way home to Essex. I missed my perfect train by a minute (a matter of seconds). When I eventually arrive at a TV set it is fifteen minutes into the game and England are already 1-0 up through Gerrard. As I settle into the game I hardly feel enthused by what I am seeing on screen. Firstly I am quite shocked to be seeing James Milner on the field for England. Tonight both teams are pretty equal when really the balance should be heavily weighted in England’s favour. Then just before halftime (in the 40th minute) it happens. From the edge of the box Clint Dempsey fires in a so so shot which Robert Green promptly fumbles and allows into the net for an American equaliser. Like a rat I have to concede I cheer the goal, not because it is against England but because it is against Green the goalkeeper of West Ham. Its too late to say now but I would have gone with James. By this point in proceedings a booked Milner has already made way for Wright-Phillips and when the game breaks at 1-1 for halftime and Ledley King fails to come out for the second half suddenly there is something quite papery about England all of a sudden. In his place comes Carragher a player that had supposedly long since given up on the international game. Is this really the best that England has to offer? The second half turns out to be a frustrating affair. At first I am in no doubt that England are about to retake the lead but when Heskey gets sent clear through and fires the ball straight at Howard suddenly things begin to look quite impotent. Even worse Green later gets called upon to make a save from Altidore which he only manages to turn onto the post rather than scoop it to safely. This gets hailed as a great save of redemption but it is hardly confident or constructed. In other words it is not a great save. Towards the end Heskey makes way for Crouch who gets in the way and causes some havoc but doesn’t really win England the day. Eventually a united groan emerges as the game ends at 1-1 and England appears to choke at the first hurdle. As the camera man follows Capello as far down the tunnel as he is allowed from behind the man does not look happy. This was not good enough.

After the England game and heading into the night the TV abortion that is James Corden’s World Cup Live arrives on screen for the first team which sees the man himself rape and murder what remains of the World Cup with a stage set straight out of the dark days of the mid nineties and TFI Friday. A studio of baying Yes Men (and women) gaggle as vaguely football related statements are made as his guests are Simon Cowell and Katy Perry. This show seems designed just to promote product with tonight being the Dizzee Rascal/James Corden/Simon Cowell shit fest which is their World Cup single. Cowell even reckons that the England team needs to listen to the song before their next game in order to inspire them. I suspect it would demoralise them. Katy Perry looks good though. With nothing between her ears she has plenty elsewhere as she rocks an American flag latex dress. It’s a good look. One time too many she mentions West Ham though.

From here I actually find myself returning to Big Brother, bored of the World Cup.

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