Saturday, 7 June 2008
Bob's Indespensible Guide to Euro '96...
That's right, as well as being a red letter day in the domestic sport's calendar (the regional heats for 'I'm a Cerebrally Challenged Z-list Dwarf - GET ME OUT OF HERE!!" *and* 'Strictly Come Celebrity Ballroom Blitz Good Game Good Game, Nice to see you, to see you nice' both kick off today), on the continent it's that time again. The long wait for a high quality festival of silky flowing football is almost over - only another *two* years, and it'll be The World Cup again! But until then, you could do worse than watch a few Johnny Foreigner, Carlos Kickaballs falling over and writhing around in feigned agony in an outrageous attempt to cheat a penalty out of the dubious looking Polish referee, I suppose.
Sadly, the Home Nations all failed to qualitfy this time 'round - as did England, so we're in the unenviable position of having to cheer on those plucky part-timers from the Isle of Man. Do the minnows from the Irish Sea have a hope in hell of Euro glory? Hard to say, Brian - on the one hand, that extra leg may come in handy in the event of extra time, but at the end of the day Gary, it's more likely that it'll just give those cynical Italian defenders one more extremity to aim at when they hack you down on the edge of their box as part of their safety first cattenaccio gameplan.
But regardless of the lack of home interest, it promises to be a mouth-watering tournament awash with quality and filled with world class superstars from our domestic league. Brilliant players such as Ronaldo, Peter Cech, Fernando Torres and Michael Ballack *will* be there and any of them might be injured and forced out of the game to give some of the other teams a chance. So, you see, there's plenty of reason to get involved, even if David Beckham's latest hairstyle won't be playing.
A lot of people are surprised, given my appearance, that I take such a hearty interest in 'the beautiful' game, but I've been standing on the terraces since the early seventies. OK, so Skelmersdale aren't the footballing force they once were, but that's the nature of the game, Brian - once it gets it's claws into you're hooked. I may have traded my rattle and scarf and half time pie for an all in one catsuit in the club colours and a Marco Pierre White inspired-prawn cocktail, but underneath the spangly tops and high quality lingerie, I'm still the same wayward terrace tyke of yesteryear once the referee blows the whistle and the punch-ups start
I may be a purist, I suppose, but for me Gary, the game's lost a little of it's romance now that the corporate bigwigs have moved in and want to get the DAF Freightrovers Autowindshield semi-final playoffs moved to Beijing for the television revenues. It used to be an honour to wear those Three Lions on your blouse - now being in the England squad is just a cheap and easy way of getting your face onto one of those collectible silver coins they sell at garages in the unlikely event that England qualify for anything. Besides, long gone are the days when you could stand on a cold, damp piece of rotting concrete and chew on a mug of Bovril then become embroiled in a massive bundle with a gang of testosterone charged skinheads chasing you through the shopping precinct shouting "Ooh, 'ark at her" and "flamin' pooves, they want to chop it off , that'd slow you down you nonce-breathed prevert!" all the way home.
So, I'll be filing regular match reports on all the big matches over the next fourteen and a half weeks in my own inimitable style. "Come on you Manxmen! Let's be 'avin' yer!! Get in there my son, on me 'ead Brian!! Oooh - nice shorts!!
L.U.V. on y'all,