Let's Get Back to Proper Balls. I Didn't like That Silver Thing at Euro 2004
Davies, Hunter, New Statesman (1996)
We all agree: Sven is not magic, England are mediocre, Fergie did right to get shot of Beckham. So that's it then, over for another two years, until we go through it all again, same old heartbreaks. Many people probably did give up after England were humiliated, the fly-by-nights, the flag-wavers, thus missing a chance to watch sans stress and experience some new delights.
Such as all the Big Countries of Europe getting shafted. England, Germany, Spain and Italy have the main populations, big leagues, big television audiences, big wads, but each departed, early doors. Four smallish countries, with minor leagues and piddling monies, made it to the semis--the Czech Republic (10.2 million), Greece (10.6 million), Portugal (10.1 million) and Holland (16 million). Each has a population at most a quarter the size of any of the Big Four and, apart from Holland, each is usually seen as economically poor. So, well done to them all. What pleasure it must have given to their peoples.
Some appalling jokes. Gary Lineker's were the oldest: "Let's notmock, Tudor" and "Alan, that's unusual for you to go Dutch". I also heard "Heinz does give variety", "Czech mate" twice and "Clockwork Orange" three times, but Clive Tyldesley was quite neat pointing out before the Holland-Sweden quarter-final that we were watching oranges and lemons.
Some nice images which will stay with me 'til, oh, at least this evening. They include Luis Figo's fleshy pout, Wayne Rooney's joyful cartwheels, Greece's German manager going hysterical, Beckham's accusing stare at the piece of turf that had deliberately moved--so, of course, the missed penalty wasn't his fault. Will that be the end of Becks? Has the brand reached its sell-by date?
Things I won't miss include John Motson. He is all facts and no insight. Even worse than his empty laughter is his belief that he's become loveable. It's also time we de-pleated our reserves, of David Pleat, I mean. If he says "here we see" again, I will scream. What do you think we're doing in front of the telly, Dave?
Also the ball, that silver thing. …