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Thursday, June 19, 2014

We're not a great football country. We're a great football market.

During the match a voice in the pub piped up with "does anybody remember when England were any good?"

I remember watching England win the 1966 World Cup. I was perched on my suitcase in the lobby of a hotel in the Loire valley where we'd travelled on a school trip. But I don't really remember what it felt like. The very fact tha you could arrange to take a load of 16 year old boys on a tour of France as the competition reached its climax gives you an idea of the status of football in those days.

I remember England going out in Mexico in 1970. I remember Norman Hunter losing control of that ball on the halfway line at Wembley in 1973 and the previously unimaginable pain and indignity of England not qualifying. Nothing has hurt as much as that since, no matter how agonising the penalty shootout or abject the performance.

That's why it jarred when Clive Tyldesley, with his infallible knack for saying what nobody is thinking, climaxed his commentary by saying "there will be millions of Englishmen in tears tonight".

No there won't, Clive. This didn't hurt at all. They were beaten by a side who took advantage of the fact that the England football team, no matter how it's comprised, has a fatal lack of cunning, which is always exposed at major tournaments.

The media try to be disappointed on our behalf. We're not disappointed at all. Deep down it's what we expected.

We're not a great football country. We're a great football market.


  1. I know it doesn't work like this, but can we not even compete with a country with a population of 3.5m ?

  2. Well - I wasn't actually in tears, and I agree with your assessment of English football. But I was still hurt, somehow.

  3. I agree with your assessment of English football. But allowing for a bit of artistic licence, I think Clive was right. It still hurts.

  4. As a 10-year-old in 1970, I watched as the World Champions cruised towards a semi-final against Italy. We were 2-0 up against West Germany in a World Cup quarter final with 20 minutes to go, and I thought the footballing life would always be like this. An hour later I was in tears, but as I say, I was only 10, and the footballing life, of course, was never like it again.