England v Italy Preview
Passion, passion, pride, passion, pride and uvver fings. And pride. With passion. An unbeatable combination, if ever there was a merging of different parts or qualities in which the component elements are individually distinct, that cannot be defeated or bettered in a contest or commercial market.
An unbeatable combination in a test of passion, passion, pride, passion, pride and uvver fings and pride with passion, perhaps; but in a test of skill, not so much. More usually, the England football team finds itself getting garrotted. Or it used to find itself getting garrotted, in the Old Days and in the Old Country, when men were men and killed each other properly, after giving them a chance to make their peace; killed each other with dignity, the right way. But now, they use guns, and not even Berettas either. Mamma Mia, and other exclamations in foreign.
Just as it’s impossible to have a European Championship that doesn’t feature at least one Group of Death (to the Jews), so too is it impossible not to have four quarter-finals each of them a cliché derby. One land mass containing residents either born on it or arrived to it against a second land mass containing residents born on it or arrived to it, chasing a sponsored orb around? Fuggedaboutit.
Yes, England versus Italy, Kray versus Corleone, Bullingdon versus Berlusconi, recession versus recessione, lionheart versus centurion, mass murderers versus mass murderers: a fixture to set racing the pulses of all whose pulses race whilst spouting such sentiment in public. But of course, it’s not really about the football at all, it’s about supporting the boys. Our boys. The three lions. Brave St George. And in this regard, the Italians face certain defeat, humiliated by the magnificence of England’s very own very courageous intrepid warriors. Look at the fancy dress! That’s what we’re about, and what are they about? Not a single manjack dressed as Garibaldi, no one even eating garibaldis. Imagine! The shame! And that’s not all! Not a single mandolin, castanet and organetto band, not one! How could the players, the Azzurri, possibly be expected to perform in such oppressive circumstances? How?
So it was that the game stpetered out into a dull affair, to be known in folklore hereafter as the Currie-Major Cup Match. “Neither Constable nor Titian” intoned a commentator clearly unfamiliar with their shortened forms, of which there was much and many – too much and too many for a family pre-match match report, thus let us speak of them no further.
Anyway, the English were honourable, only violently assaulting their opponents in full view of the officials (except for when they didn’t), and the Italians were underhand, only violently assaulting their opponents not in full view of the officials (except for when they didn’t). Thus, after ninety minutes, the score stood level at Nowt-Nulla, as too it did after a further half-hour of battle, war, conflict and confrontation. Sweat was shed, blood was spilled, gob was gobbed, hair was flicked, fingers were waggled and tedium was inflicted, until behold! Penalty kicks!
Shared misfortune shared and memory of pains past relived, eventually one set of eleven had placed a ball into a space eighteen yards away once more than the other, and jubilation was rife. Oh such jubiliation! Who could fail to be jubilant at such a moment of such jubilation (immortalised in a special edition of your Super Soaraway Burning Thing Round Which the World Orbits)? No one, is the answer to that rhetorical question which I’ve just unrhetoricised. Pasta la vista, bambinos!