Reasons for England Football Fans to be Cheerful

1966:  The England Team pose with the Jules Rimet Trophy after winning the World Cup against West Germany at Wembley. Top row left to right: trainer Harold Shepherdson, Nobby Stiles, Roger Hunt, Gordon Banks, Jack Charlton, George Cohen, Ray Wilson, Manager Alf Ramsey, and bottom row, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore, Alan Ball and Bobby Charlton.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Supposedly, the Three Lions on England football shirts represent pride, passion and courage. Clearly, it’s time for a kit redesign.

Even as England’s footballing lions shriveled into meek kittens in the World Cup cauldron it may be finally sinking in that England are ordinary. They’re capable of qualifying for major tournaments, perhaps even making the knock-out rounds, but it’s been 44 years since they last won, and 20 since making the semi-finals.

After so many underwhelming performances, I’m starting to catch on – England’s footballers are not good enough to win major tournaments without a massive dose of good luck. As usual, lady luck scorned upon England, but even had she smiled brightly, even had she mollycoddled the Three Kittens, it would not muffle their pitiful, shivering meows on the big stage.

England’s luck was bad, but their players were worse. Recognizing this in the cold light of day is cathartic and may relieve England fans of the usual post-tournament wallowing. But if you’re still despondent, here are a few reasons to be cheery.

Since England invented the game it seems entirely fitting that their misfortune provide the impetus for goal-line technology. Instant replays either on the stadium’s Jumbotron or fans’ I Phones quickly proved that Frank Lampard’s shot against Germany crossed the line.

A once intransigent Sepp Blatter, head of FIFA, appeared contrite at a post-game meeting. After all, his arguments against employing technology — maintaining human control and ensuring the game’s continuity — were shredded by the facts. For example, one possible technology known as Hawk Eye can provide near instant proof, and is certainly less disruptive than indignant players swarming a hapless, out of control referee for two minutes.

Another reason to cheer up is we didn’t lose on penalty kicks. This is no small thing — England can no longer mask technical deficiencies with the veil of penalty kick caprice for their players cowered not on the penalty spot, but all over the field.

Still, England is pretty good at other sports. It’s only been 7 years since we won the Rugby world cup; and we’re the only nation to have won both the Rugby and Football world cups. In athletics, motor sports, golf, cycling, and even cricket, the Three Lions occasionally roar. Indeed, Great Britain finished fourth in the 2008 summer Olympic Games medal table – the only European country higher was Russia.

There’s another reason for a stiff upper lip: While our overpaid, overhyped, and overrated players are over and out, England’s outstanding officiating crew are still over there. Indeed, had Howard Webb not already taken charge of the Champions League final, he’d probably get the world cup final. Nevertheless, the impressive Webb and assistants have a good chance to officiate a semi-final in S. Africa. Now, when you consider all the goals either improperly allowed or disallowed, this is a big deal. In fact, referees can, even unwittingly, become the most valuable “players” should their decision-making inappropriately affect the score.

As an expat, I’d be proud to see Englishman Howard Webb take charge of a semi-final if not the final. Interestingly, in his “daytime job” Webb is a police officer. This reminds me of an old joke, I paraphrase: in a perfect world, the cooks are French; the lovers are Italian; the Swiss run the trains; and the police are British.

A fair and just police is tops for me because a disciplined, restrained and fair police force underpins a free, open society and can take centuries to form. With Officer Howard Webb taking control we may just get a perfect World Cup semi-final decided by team performances instead of injudicious refereeing.

If these tidbits do not allay your football misery, just remember – at least we’re not French. Not only are their football team in shambles, but French referee Stephane Lannoy was also sent home by FIFA for poor performance. C’est la vie.

4 thoughts on “Reasons for England Football Fans to be Cheerful”

  1. I have read this article twice. On the assumption that it is meant to be a serious piece of work it is, at best, mis-titled and at worst largely irrelevant to either the EPL or the World Cup.

    It tells me nothing I haven’t heard numerous times in the past few days and the knowledge of other English sporting successes in the recent past, while informative, adds nothing new to the debate on the state of English football. Surely there are topics which more closely relate to the “football” theme of this site, e.g. “The England Team…Ones to watch for the future”, or “How Youth Academies in the EPL can deliver the goods at international level”.

  2. One of the best quotes of the World cup came from David Baddiel & Frank Skinner… when talking about how South Africa brought the vuvuzela to the world cup asked what would England bring if they hosted the World Cup and they offered pregnant teenagers.

    Surely the police would be also very important… all those teenagers that normally gather at bus stops would spend time at WC games and the old bill would surely be called in. So yeah.. Howard Webb could round them up. It all makes sense now.

  3. Oh god, ANOTHER article about how England are “not as good as [some] people thought they were”? Another article about how England’s players are technically deficient and incapable of winning a major tournament?

    It may be “cathartic” for you to write this article, but please, the readers of this site have seen this same stuff regurgitated EVERY day on this website for the last week or so. It’s SOOO tiresome…

    And also, this article contains some errors. It’s wrong to say that in other sports, “the Three Lions occasionally roar”. For a start, the phrase “the Three Lions” refers solely to the England football team. And obviously the England FOOTBALL team does not compete in Cricket, Athletics, Motor Racing etc.

    Secondly, even if I can accept your usage of “Three Lions” to mean England teams in all sports, it’s still wrong to conflate England with Great Britain, as you do when you mention the Olympics.

    And this is all such a bizarre point. You’re saying that England FOOTBALL fans should cheer up because England/GB is sometimes good at OTHER sports??

  4. I think the author is stretching the Three Lions analogy but I get the gist of it and overall think he makes some good points — it’s just not worth getting overwrought about our footballers failures, especially when they’re seen smirking on the bus afterwards.
    Remember, too, that England’s cricketers where the Three Lions on their shirt badges.
    Noel was also prescient in predicting Englishman Howard Webb would referee a semi or the W.C. final itself. Sure enough, FIFA just announced he will take charge of the Final. This is a prestigious and obviously very important thing. I think Webb will shine, allowing the best team to win and this might redeem English referees after Graham Poll’s disastrous 3 yellows to one player in 2006 W.C.
    Okay, onto the British Open… The Ashes… hosting summer Olympics… England fans, or English fans, even British fans, have a lot to look forward to.

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