World Cup Watch....
By Steve Wade
History students might be reminded of the Crusades this week, as Pope Innocent (played by Bobby Charlton) sent us all off to retrieve the holy relics. Unavoidably, a certain amount of hysteria has definitely broken out and even if I have not gone all the way by actually hanging my own flag out, I have been reduced to smiling at those who have (in a snooty sort of way) with the expression 'Chavtastic'. Even so, there seems to be rules of decorum in place (as usual for the English) and having more than two flags on your car is seen as a bit vulgar - I've only seen one car with four, although the second two were windsock affairs, which might come under a
different heading and therefore different rules. But when it comes to flags, I am definitely a size-queen and the only one's that bring on a cheer, are the those the size of a house. Saw one yesterday - and it had a sense of grandeur about it - that's the way to do it. The tiddlers should be banned.
There are twenty-six different types of beer in my local offy and it all tastes the same......
I really love the World Cup but I really dislike the media-hype - there is something about the mass-conformity, which scares the shit out of me - like bonfire night, WW1 enlistment and queues for cabbage-patch dolls - it does not bode well for the species. And you can't help noticing that they're all the same, World Cups that is - a bit like those Ellis master-plans, which the Villa fans fall for every time, me included. I am guilty as charged - taken for a sucker every single time. The triumph of dope over experience.
Luckily it is so naff and the manipulation so unsubtle that hope is actually possible. And, as crap as it sometimes gets, you have to remember that for some people, this will be their last World Cup, and although it tends towards the crappy, it is still one of the better things in life. And you can't help but measure people's absence by the number of World Cups they have missed. Yeah, okay, I admit it - If England won it, I would cry like a baby.
But until that happens.........
Naffness abounds on ITV (is that what they still call it?) presentation and I especially like Steve Rider's Dicky Davis wig - that's just brilliant. And that Budweiser ad with the two Americans, which seems to pop up at random, should have the punters swelling the BBC viewing figures. Thank goodness for Gabby Logan - she's just great. I am just waiting for some player to get it full in the knackers and for her to remind her squirming male co-presenters that she was in labour for 24 hours with her twins (*) and therefore a bit of knacker splatter is nothing. Ex-Villan Townsend is still as handsome as ever (in a blue-collar sort of way) and still looks like he could model cardigans on knitting patterns (with added pipe for gravitas), with aplomb. If Hansen is the thinking woman's analyst then Andy must be the opposite. Andy's great and as he said, the only thing between him and being the Nearly Man is the medal he won at Villa. I suspect there will be no Big Ron though, which is a tragic loss to the art of punditry. And he was right about Totti, which he often was.
* And she said she enjoyed it - how weird is that?
The Beeb have not stinted in their expenditure of our money and there's seems like the Rolls Royce version but where are the women? And where's your Jimmy Hill figure? That glossy-lipped creature who does the women's game, is an excellent presenter and both nicer to look at and less irritating than Mr Linekar. So why not her? Shearer sounds right though and looks like a good signing. Its just a pity that Martin O'Neal still seems to carry the torpor brought on by his enforced gardening leave and he has yet to get reacquainted with the required levels of hysteria. I still await his full indignant falsetto. But being that I am not going to be watching the football down the pub (The Rioter's Arms - perhaps), I really will miss the sort of irrelevant drivel, which comes free with the pub experience and was Jimmy the Chin's forte. I think Adie Chiles is supposed to fill that role but ridiculous accent or not, the guy's as bright as a button and what with his English Lit degree, is always in danger of quoting Beowulf or the nail-maker's tale from Chaucer. Half Croation too, which might account for his brains.
The worst thing is finding out that the Germans are not nearly as bad as we had been promised and with them getting the easiest group again (by chance, naturally) they will only have to play well twice to get into the final, which presumably is Blatter's plan, or whoever arranges these things. England have slightly more world-class players than usual (4 instead of 1 or 2) but still have plenty of reasons for not winning it, and the new ball seems like an extra one. Adidas seem to have got it right this time and although the weight and the rest are the same, they seem to have done something clever with the sweet-spot, which means England's short-arse goal-keeper will be able to keep up the tradition. But not James, please not James. It might be harder to control for free-kicks though - oh bugger - for Beckham - oh wow - for Gerrard.
As for England's over-sized dancing marionette, there was absolutely no sign that when Crouch was at Villa, he could be the player he has looked in his recent outings for England. When I was giving him a bollocking, as you do, for missing that penalty, I had to admit that I never dreamt, that I would ever accuse him of over-confidence. Compared to Anfield, Villa Park, alas, often looks like the graveyard for promise and talent. It seems obvious that if you can earn the respect and appreciation of world-class players like Steven Gerrard, which brings with it a welcoming entree into the England set-up, confidence is going to come much easier, than trying to make the same transition from an unfashionable struggling club, where you get jeered every week. He won't be getting the Golden Boot but he might emerge from the tournament, as a player Villa could not afford. If he does prove a success, and I for one sincerely hope he does, I just hope that his doubters amongst the Villa contingent, remember him the next time someone a bit different turns up and maybe give them a chance. He was right to leave Villa, it's just a pity that our financial genius was too stupid to insert a sell-on clause. Compared with these mistakes - selling a bit of land for a few bob is chicken feed. Strange deal that - being that the land was another Villa asset named after the chairman. :-+
Of course the only reason Crouch won't be getting the Golden Boot, is because Savo's going to win it.......
Now for the miserable bit..........England are about to kick-off.
By Steve Wade