Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The part of me that I like loves cricket; the part of me that I hate loves football. Also I did slump into an orgy of love while watching the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final in a pub in Earls Court, but that was a temporary aberration. Last night the moment the ball bounced over Paul Robinson's foot to give Croatia a 2-0 lead over England, I finally slayed the part of me that I hate. The English league is the richest, most pampered and best supported in the world. Yet the national team is no more than eleven ill-tempered haircuts in search of a salon. Discounting for all their privileges and wealth, I think there is a reasonable case for saying it is the worst football team in the world. The reason I hung on until now was that, as a child, I watched Manchester City and felt a warm glow of belonging. Also my brother was at Wembley on 30th July 1966 and he came home as the happiest human being I have ever seen. But forty years later, it's all over. At the national level, the game has seen a gradual and now total collapse of ethos. And, in the last analysis, sport is only ethos, anything else is just inane brawling. Say what you like about cricket, it is not yet that.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 7:15 pm