Friday, June 27, 2014

Those England Predictions - Why I Was Right All Along

It has been suggested in some quarters that my detailed forecasts of the results, and certain incidents, in Group D (for Dire) at the World Cup, as exclusively revealed through this column, may have been less than entirely accurate in all respects. [I didn't write all the bits attributed to me, for a start: Ed]

Let us examine the cold facts without emotion or prejudice. We predicted England would fail to qualify from the group and this was indeed the case. We were not totally accurate in predicting the fate of the other members of the group but we did predict, entirely accurately, that the two qualifiers would not include England amongst their number, and who can possibly want more?  It was in any case much hotter / more humid / wetter / windier / balmier / colder / than anyone had a right to expect, the grass doesn't make the ball bounce in the way that we are used to in Europe (according to a Mr. R Podgeson, apparently the manager of one of the sides) and England with all of their physios, nutritionists and psychologists omitted to bring two obvious essentials in the form of a dentist and a lawyer, thus putting themselves at an enormous disadvantage when facing the Uruguyan Chomper.

Yes, I admit that Costa Rica, far from losing all three games, won two and drew the other but you can't expect Johnny Foreigner to play by the rules. England showed how this game should really be played with plenty of back-passes, nice big gaps in the defence and a desire, when going forward, to find the man surrounded by the opposing centre-backs rather than the man running into space. Oh, as as many shots wide or over the bar as possible. I mean, we're English after all. We don't do accurate shooting. We don't want to inconvenience their goalie. We always let the other chaps score first, as a rule, then go for a gentlemanly draw with no hard feelings. It's really jolly beastly of them when they score again and win the match.

So, in conclusion, this column stands proud and unashamed [er, this may need rewording for the oh-so-sensitive American market: Ed]  and to prove it, here is our exclusive you-saw-it-here-first predictions for  the European Championships 2016.
England to do jolly well, up to a point, and then not to.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Exclusive: All you need to know about England's World Cup campaign

Bored with football? Had enough of the World Cup even before the tedious opening ceremony gets under way? Then relax, pour yourself a refreshing cup of tea and settle down with the ground-breaking article that follows - all you need to know in one easy-to-digest Blogger feature.

  • All the scores from England's Group (Group D, for Death, naturally)
  • Match analysis from our guest expert (the Editor)
  • What The Sun headline will be the day after
Match 1 in Manaus: England v Italy.
Result: 0-0. Rooney sent off after twenty minutes for biting the assistant referee.
Our expert says: [In the blistering sun-scorched arena of death that was the Manaus Piranha Stadium, the teams played out a cautious draw, both afraid to commit to anything that might be in any way interesting in the way of scoring. I enjoyed the parrot pies and the local beer "the genuine taste of the rain forest with extra rain": Ed]

Other group match: Uruguay 3 Costa Rica 1

The Sun headline - No-brayne Rooney

Match 2 in Sao Paulo : England v Uruguay
Result: 2-2. Sterling sent off for making a "comment" to the referee
Our expert says: [In the scorching cauldron of emotion that was the Sao Paolo AwfulottaCoffeeinBrazil stadium, both teams committed to kicking the ball a bit and somehow a couple of shots at each end went in. I sampled a "macho honcho" beef sandwich, mainly a chunk of raw meat inside two other chunks of meat served in a meat wrap and missed most of the second half: Ed]

Other group match: Italy 4 Costa Rica 0

The Sun headline (with a picture of the England coach tucking into a sausage roll) - Roy Podgeson


Match 3 in Belo Horizonte: England v Costa Rica
Result: 2-0: Hart sent off for reckless challenge on a ball-boy
Our expert says [In the torrid volcanic maelstrom that was the seething cauldron of dreams in the stadium of destiny that was Belo Horizonte's Station Road Stadium, England won the game they had to win but oh, the bitter cup of victory was theirs to drain for on a night when they were all heroes, the result counted for nothing but the black void of ultimate despair. On the plus side I greatly enjoyed the steak and kidney pie, until they told me where the kidneys came from: Ed]

Other group match: Italy 1 Uruguay1

Final group table

Italy qualify on goal difference. Uruguay go through ahead of England, although with equal goal difference, through having scored more goals.

The Sun headline (with a picture of Ronnie Biggs) - Another bunch of criminals return home to face justice

Monday, June 02, 2014

Winter's hangover

The torrential rain and consequential flooding that blighted the start of 2014 may be fading into memory (at least for those of us who did not undergo the trauma of finding their properties under water) but there are still ample reminders in the countryside. Yesterday I walked a near-circular tour through the Ruislip woods and on to the canal at Harefield before terminating at Uxbridge, nearly 10 miles, and time and again was forced to detour from the main paths or face sinking into ankle deep mud. The day was beautifully sunny and warm but we've had a fair bit of rain in recent days; enough to make parts of this walk quite unpleasant. Part of it is the official "Hillingdon Trail" but woe betide any casual walker who blithely follows the waymarked route. On the parts that are also bridlepaths the horses have chewed up the ground leaving huge ruts and puddles. And one section, where the trail links Mad Bess Wood to Bayhurst Wood was so muddy and wet that I had to plunge through the woodland around it and stamp out my own path up to the road. I have never seen the paths in such a bad state. It's a shame that at this wonderful time of the year, with the woods now dense with greenery and alive with birdsong, one's eyes are always on the ground, finding the safest path between the squelchy and treacherous mudpools. And I had to feel sorry for some of the families that I strode past, with their flip-flops and buggies, struggling on in the hope that just round the next corner the paths would be smooth and dry. I knew that the last part of my walk, along the canal, would be just that (and flat into the bargain) but it was a lot of hard work to get there. Anyway, I reckon that's as least as much effort as going up and down the escalators and platforms of the Tube for a week so I can put my feet up now.