The England I want to live in

The England football team, staff, and manager, represent the country I want to live in. A country that works as a team, values diversity and inclusion, and stands up to injustice despite opposition. A forward looking, thoughtful, brave, open, and compassionate country.

Unfortunately, a vision made more difficult to achieve by Brexit, but I still hope and strive for it. C’mon England!

Football (like life) can be cruel!

Football is a microcosm of all human life: the best and the worst, the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the triumphs and the sorrows, the successes and the failures, the ecstasy and the agony, the beauty and the ugliness. Love it or loathe it, you can’t escape it. You have to deal with it.

What better vehicle is there to teach our children human character, the value of working as a team, and emotional intelligence for their adult lives? And, in the light of the result, I would add the need to demonstrate graciousness in defeat.

It’s Coming Home

The England football song Three Lions (1996) (sometimes known as It’s Coming Home) can come across as arrogant, and arrogance is something often attributed to England (and sometimes more widely to Great Britain). Sadly, with good reason considering our attitudes and history. Equally, this arrogance is also felt in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Unlike other football songs, the lyrics express the disappointment of being a football fan. It’s actually about dreaming, recognising that the result might go against us, but still believing and hoping.

I think it’s bad news for the English game
We’re not creative enough, and we’re not positive enough

It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home (We’ll go on getting bad results)
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home

Everyone seems to know the score, they’ve seen it all before
They just know, they’re so sure
That England’s gonna throw it away, gonna blow it away
But I know they can play, ’cause I remember

Three lions on a shirt
Jules Rimet still gleaming
Thirty years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming

So many jokes, so many sneers
But all those “Oh, so nears” wear you down through the years
But I still see that tackle by Moore and when Lineker scored
Bobby belting the ball, and Nobby dancing

Three lions on a shirt
Jules Rimet still gleaming
Thirty years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming

England have done it, in the last minute of extra time!
What a save, Gordon Banks!
Good old England, England that couldn’t play football!
England have got it in the bag!
I know that was then, but it could be again

It’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home
(England have done it)
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home

(It’s coming home) Three lions on a shirt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Jules Rimet still gleaming
(Football’s coming home
It’s coming home) Thirty years of hurt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Never stopped me dreaming
(Football’s coming home
It’s coming home) Three lions on a shirt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Jules Rimet still gleaming
(Football’s coming home
It’s coming home) Thirty years of hurt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Never stopped me dreaming
(Football’s coming home
It’s coming home) Three lions on a shirt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Jules Rimet still gleaming
(Football’s coming home
It’s coming home) Thirty years of hurt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Never stopped me dreaming
(Football’s coming home)

We will remember them!

Yesterday (29 June 2021) England beat Germany 2-0 in the delayed Euro2020 football tournament at Wembley Stadium.

Having experienced England win the World Cup in 1966 by defeating Germany aged 12, I’ve waited 55 years for England to beat them again in the knockout stage of a major tournament. It was glorious!

Having said that, I do worry for my country when some England fans boo the German national anthem, laugh at a crying German girl being consoled by her father, and give her despicable abuse online.

We were victorious over fascism in 1945, not Germany. The Second World War is NOT a justification for England fans to demonstrate the very attitudes our forefathers died to defeat. We will remember them!

See also: They think it’s all over!

They think it’s all over!

On the day (29 June 2021) that England play Germany in the knockout stage of Euro2020, I remember England beating West Germany to win the World Cup in 1966. Yes, I’m old enough to remember it!

Not only was the win memorable, so was the BBC television commentary.

“They think it’s all over” is a quote from Kenneth Wolstenholme’s BBC TV commentary in the closing moments of the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final, when England beat West Germany 4–2 after extra time to win the FIFA World Cup. In the final few seconds of the match, Wolstenholme said:

And here comes Hurst! He’s got…
(Wolstenholme is distracted by some of the crowd spilling onto the pitch)
Some people are on the pitch! They think it’s all over!
(Geoff Hurst scores to put England two goals ahead)
It is now, it’s four!

Soon after the 1966 victory, Wolstenholme’s quote became a widely used expression. Source

See also: We will remember them!

Proposed European Super League

There has been a widespread negative reaction from football fans and others to the announcement by twelve major European clubs to form a breakaway European Super League. English teams Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham are part of the group.

It’s wrong on so many levels, and it’s hard to believe it was even thought of, but less so when you realise that at its heart is greed on the part of the teams’ owners. As I commented on social media: Behold, how the gods of football doth contend, to sacrifice the beautiful game on the twin altars of greed and self-interest.

As Susie Dent appropriately tweeted: Word of the day is ‘ingordigiousness’: extreme greed; an insatiable desire for wealth at any cost.

A statement given by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden about the European Super League proposals was spot on. I quote some of it below, but you can read the whole statement here.

Football is in our national DNA. We invented it, we helped export it around the world, and it has been a central part of British life for over a century. Football clubs aren’t just businesses; they define communities across the country.

So along with almost every member of this House I suspect, I was appalled by the announcement made late last night that a handful of clubs are proposing to form their own breakaway European League. These six clubs announced this decision without any consultation with football authorities, or with the government. But worst of all, they announced it without any dialogue whatsoever with their own fans.

It was a tone-deaf proposal, but the owners of those clubs won’t have been able to ignore the near universal roar of outrage from all parts of the football community over the past 24 hours. This move goes against the very spirit of the game.

This is a sport where a team like Leicester City can ascend from League One to the Premier League title in under a decade, earning the right to go toe-to-toe against European heavyweights in the Champions League. Instead, a small handful of owners want to create a closed shop of elite clubs at the top of the game – a league based on wealth and brand recognition rather than upon merit.

Season after season, year after year, football fans demonstrate unwavering loyalty and passion by sticking by their clubs. But their loyalty is being abused by a small number of individuals who wield an incredible amount of power and influence. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that football is nothing without its fans. These owners should remember that they are only temporary custodians of their clubs, and they forget fans at their peril.

St David’s Day

Saint David is the patron saint of Wales, and his feast day is celebrated on 1 March, the date of his death in 589 CE. I have fond memories of eight years lived in South Wales during my working life as a Salvation Army Officer and celebrating this special day with my family.

The Welsh will be especially celebrating this year (2021) after their victory over England in the Six Nations Championship, only two days prior to this traditional festival. I’ve always supported Wales (and still do) as long as they’re not playing England, but it never worked the other way round – England being seen as the ‘enemy’. It was often the subject of gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) teasing during the welcome and announcements on Sunday in worship at the Salvation Army, I gave as good as I got and often fully deserved the reaction I provoked.

Traditional symbols of daffodils (Wales) and leeks (Saint David) are worn, traditional Welsh food eaten, and traditional Welsh dress worn by the women and girls. I well remember my (now grown-up) English daughter proudly going to school in her Welsh costume. Teasing aside, we’re all enriched by appreciating and (when and where appropriate) respectfully sharing in the traditions of others.

Maradona muerto a los 60 años

Recuerdo bien el infame gol de ‘Mano de Dios’ en el partido de la Copa del Mundo de 1986 y mi fuerte sentimiento de injusticia en ese momento. Sí, hizo trampa, pero el segundo gol contra Inglaterra en 1986 fue uno de los mejores. Diego Maradona fue mucho más que la ‘Mano de Dios’. Fue uno de los mejores futbolistas de la historia que tuvo que afrontar muchos problemas en su vida personal. Este inglés lo ha perdonado.

92 F1 Wins for Lewis Hamilton

Whichever way you look at it, Lewis Hamilton‘s 92 wins in F1 eclipses Michael Schumacher, especially as Hamilton will likely equal Schumacher’s 7 world championships this season.

Yes, it’s difficult to compare drivers of different era, but Hamilton has a higher ratio of wins (35.11%) compared with Schumacher (29.55%), so you can’t even say it’s because there are more races in a F1 season than two decades ago. Source: List of Formula One Driver Records.

But as we celebrate a great British success, let’s not forget the success of another Brit on the same day. Tao Geoghegan Hart is only the second British winner of the 2020 Giro d’Italia.

15/11/20 Update: Lewis Hamilton won his seventh world championship.