Part 6

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It’s 81 minutes in and I am watching England players play what is lovingly described as “tippy tappy crap” in search of a goal. I’m sat here thinking that this nonsense feels familiar, the clueless arseclownery sold to us as patient build  up, Manchester United have been involved in that. That dog don’t hunt.

I started this blog to see if it was possible to rekindle love for my national football team; to get involved in the community spirit and see if it was possible to forget club colours and follow ING ERL AND. I’ve found something I was not expecting.

91st minute of five extra and my timeline us going nuts. Every single person on my timeline is reminding me where (take your pick) England player comes from;

Spurs are going to win this game for England.

Here we go, City making sure we are solid at the back.

Great pass from the Spurs lad, the Liverpool lad let it down.

Here’s what I’ve found out: as the going gets tough our club colours come out. Suddenly it’s right to blame Rooney because you “can’t trust a Manc” to do the job, England fans online clubbed together to pay for an early flight home for Raheem Stirling, and only Marcus Rashford is quicker off the mark than Spurs fans reminding you Harry Kane is theirs.

I thought it was just me and the United fans I know. I thought the feeling of apathy was just from us. I’m now of the belief that it’s honesty from me. The other football fans, those I thought were better than me because they left the club colours at the door in support of the nation but it’s all bollocks As soon as they struggle every player gets hung up by their individual club shirt. It’s England pride with Velcro on the back, easiily removed as needed.

I asked a few England fans something as I’ve travelled this country over the last few weeks. I wondered, if they were to get to the knockout stages, would they be tempted to fly out abs support the team? The resounding answer was “No”. I’m told that most of “those in France with England shirts on aren’t there for football, just to fight”. I know this is a huge generalisation and I’m not going to take his words any futher but it’s a perception England haven’t managed to shake so far.

England draw, I have no idea what excuses Woy gives because Sinny puts 10 credits on the jukebox and I’ve got a song to choose coz he’s a diamond. A crystal drinking diamond (get on that for word play).

England march on. Apathy continues. I want them to make me care. England I’m asking you to make me care, in fact like the Stone Roses’ song I choose.. I’m begging you.

Til next time

Part 5

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Somewhere in a North Yorkshire pub, a Welshman is nervous. He’s surrounded by Englishmen so he has every right to be, and the teams are out;

The anthems come, I don’t sing too loudly, stay under the radar for a bit longer, I think, let’s not alert the whole pub yet. The English meekly sang their anthem – the Bale comments regarding a lack of passion seemingly reflected here.

During the game I can’t hold back my patriotic and passionate views, biased views, as always. The banter between me and seemingly 200 Englishmen ensured that the pub was full of laughter as well as the usual noises associated with watching a game with a few pints. The “ooohhh’s” and “aahhhh’s” as well as expletives, of course.

I’m becoming the entertainment now with my quick witted retorts to whatever they threw at me, like a seasoned comedian, Chanting, singing and winding them up as England kept failing to make the most of their chances. I’m louder than the lot of them – one man standing alone against all these Englishmen!

We get a free kick….. everyone is telling me it’s going in, I am adamant it’s too far out…. then……

GET IN YOU FUCKING BASTARDS!

Heard across the whole pub and down the street no doubt. My voice booming in contrast to the silence of the rest of the pub. The half time banter now in full force as people come up to me to chat about the game, about Bale and, with more animation, about Hart.

The second half is the worst of my life!! From the moment the clock started I’m screaming at them to take it to the flag. TO THE FLAG!!! Everyone around me is laughing but mostly nervous about the game and the desperate three points England needed.

When the first goal goes in I’m convinced it was offside, it looked offside. I was drowned though by the noise that the English FINALLY made. They showed passion but only when they scored. I’m lifted in the air, beer going everywhere! I need another drink, there is a feeling now this is going to be a battle on the big screen and a “battle” in the pub.

Towards the end, England are missing opportunities – could Wales hang on like they did against Belgium twice….. could they get that point they so desperately need to qualify to the next round?

And then.

Pandemonium.

OH NO….. a last minute goal was the LAST thing I needed here.The pub goes wild, I don’t even know who scored, I don’t care. I rest my head on the bar and I feel it being patted, hair ruffled, joyful sounds from the England fans scratching my ear drums like a spike has been inserted.  Mobile phones are out and filming the celebrations in the pub and my pain.

Bar staff come up to me to console me, telling me I was excellent entertainment and that I took it all well. A lot of of the lads in the pub, some I knew and a lot that I didn’t, all coming up to me afterwards to shake my hand and pat my shoulder. Their messages were all the similar which started with a “haha we won” followed by congratulating me on making it a brilliant atmosphere and that I was a legend in the bar. A small condolence for the last minute loss but condolences nonetheless. Should I have gone or should I have watched it on my own without all that fuss to endure at the end? I think my little write up has answered that, to have been alone at home and witnessed that last minute goal would have been depressing. At least my attendance at the pub, the 1 against 200 (ish), gave me something to enjoy and something to talk about.

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No Welshman was harmed during the production of this blog

Cheers to Taffinoski follow him @taffinoski – Wales continue on their own journey and this week mine with England came to an abrupt end. I didn’t see the game, you could say my journey went off road. Very much so in fact. Have you ever been to Byker? It’s an interesting place where interesting people live. I couldn’t ask anyone the score, lets just say… the television show Byker Grove was full of shit. It lied to me. Geoff Keegan lied to me!

Part 6 will come when I stop moving. Thanks again to Taff, for now for both England and Wales the journey continues. See you down the road.
 

 

Part 4

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A person has plenty of time to think about things when they are clamped in the front seat space of a mega bus heading to Newcastle. It’s early in the morning, too early to be jovial with passengers who either stare at you and pretend they aren’t, or a driver who doesn’t know how to put you and your wheelchair in the wheelchair space so he just keeps tutting. I CAN HEAR HIM!

I’m sat here wearing more restraints than a law abiding citezen should expect. I mean seriously, if the dude tells me the safeword he can have it and we’ll all go home.

In the days since the last blog, England yobbishness made the headlines and people have become genuinely worried about Wales beating us. England should have got the job done in their opening match, it’s still hilarious to me that they didn’t. They have impressive and exciting players, perhaps against Wales Woy will let them do their thing (or at least bring them off the bench soon enough for them to rescue us).

Life is about goals, having then and reaching them so here are mine ahead of the game with Wales;

Marcus Rashford continues to rule the world.

Vardy gets given a chance. He will score

I still really want Stirling and Hart to play abysmally, they are Liverpool and City players after all… I’m only human and the journey is long. I know I know, yay England… we all love everyone in the summer don’t we?
My mind wanders…. what if Bale scores a hatrick against England and each goal is the fault of some ABU half wit like Hart. I’d allow myself a smile.

It turns out that not everyone is as confident in Wales’ ability to beat England as some in England are. Taffinoski is somewhere in a pub in North Yorkshire, he’s there like a cornflake in a bowl of rice krispies, the only Welshman amongst the English … I can only imagine the horror / joy that will come from his experience of this match.

You, dear reader, don’t have to imagine. I’m on a Metro heading for toon but I can still find a pub before kick off … Taff takes up the rest of the story

I’m already nervous and my prediction was a 2-0 defeat, something which I was trying to mentally prepare for. I was advised not to wear my lucky retro Wales top, this was not going to bode well! A certain defeat was in the offing.

I arrive at the pub an hour before kick off, plenty of time to get a few drinks down and enjoy some banter with friends, some that I hadn’t seen for a while. Everyone was in good spirits as the pub become more and more full. I was rather surprised at the lack of songs being sung by the English fans and I did my best to keep my nationality to myself for the time being.

My friends, a lovely bunch, had kindly spread the word to other patrons that I was Welsh! Cue a few sheep sounds and some light abuse about Wales in general. My retort? I reminded them that I was in Yorkshire and that they were also fond of sheep. 

DOES SIMON FIND A PUB AND WATCH? HOW MANY MANY WELSH JOKES DOES TAFF ENDURE? Find out in Part 5.

Part 3

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Why in all God do they put Harry Kane on the set pieces and why isn’t Jamie Vardy on yet? They are going to lose this I swear and it will be because Woy doesn’t have the balls to make the changes when they are necessary. United just sacked a manager for reasons like that.
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England go a goal up thanks to a free kick dripping in quality and it sparks up England fans there and here. Eric Dier, 22 years old, take a bloody long bow. Wayne Rooney playing in the withdrawn position bothers me but in the run up to the free kick he was faultless. England deserved to have the edge and they eventually do.

Rooney departs for Arsenal sicknote Jack Wilshire. That’s a fucking ballsy move, taking your captain off in the first game of a tournament when you are only a goal up with minutes to go.

I’m ready for everyone to tell me that this England Victory has been built in North London. Harry Kane falls, draws the free kick and heads the ball on the ground all in one moment. There’s a moment Brazil would have been happy with, a sexy pass and move which sadly went nowhere but goes to confirm that England are more than worthy winners here. A second goal would put the cherry on the icing on the cake.

Stirling tries to make it happen, just as I get another tap on my shoulder… one of our lot is wobbling and for some reason he’s apologising. The sound comes back on on the second big television just in time to hear the national anthem belted out by the fans in the stadium. Even I am impressed.

They leave out the verse about scattering our enemies though, naturally.

Minutes to go and the England I know and for the most part ignore, come out to play. They concede, Russia get a point and England have given a load of people hope only to see it snatched away. Again, I can identify with those emotions.

The DJ starts with the England song Vindaloo and Glenn rewrites the lyrics for us:

“AND WE ALL LIKE VINDALOO!

WE’RE GONNA SCORE THE SAME AS YOU!”

Wales top the group. That’s funny.

I’m happy for this blog to chart the journey from Lapsed England fan to once again believer. I want to be the same England fan that cried his heart out when we bottled it in Italia 90, the same lad that idolised Gazza despite the Spurs and later Lazio shirt on his back.

At the end of Day one though, the feeling is mostly laughter: at the disappointment of the England fans who had us winning the competition when Dier scored that free kick. So the journey to rekindle love for the England national side starts from a rather bleh place.

Part 2

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I have to get behind this lot, it’s important for national unity and all that. The staff of my local all have England shirts on and I get the message. There are players I would love at United, most of them have decent hair cuts already so it would make the move to Manchester easier for them.

England expects – some how the public expect them to win the thing. Drinkwater, a premier league winner is not in the squad… Wilshire, this generations sick note is in the squad. Chris Smalling is too. It’s not too long before I start hoping our lads avoid injury and drama. We know what happens when England crash out and it’s down to a United player don’t we? That player gets vilified. Rooney will be ok if England make him the scapegoat – United fans have been ripping into him for a while now. Taken some a while to give him credit, it has.

Woy seems to find him undroppable too. A fun tournament awaits then.

The landlord of my local thinks he has to find a white charger because his phone is white. As that example of phone racism sinks in Harry Kane puts the ball in the net but the whistle had already gone. I’m tapped on the shoulder and told by someone that he and I could beat Russia on our own. I’ve had fewer injuries than Jamie Redknapp and less operations than Jack Wilshire and he’s in France! By that reckoning I should win the balon d’Orr.

Bring on the fireball shots

See you in part 3

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Part 1

Ok so the European championships are in France this year and yet again I have to get used to seeing my boys, United boys, in another shirt playing alongside players I could swear they detest during the league season. It might be easier to get my head around this year given that there is no John Terry and no Steven Gerrard. Those England fans who detest Wayne Rooney even when he plays for England? Well done, I applaud the consistency. I hope the United boys do well, Marcus Rashford is a little genius and if I accept that Woy will play players all over the place in order to accommodate Wayne Rooney then this might not descend into a hail of sarcasm and bitterness.

They’ve got Joe Hart. I have to cheer a City player ?

Sarcasm and bitterness it is then.

First to the Wales game though. I dont think there is anyone left in Wales and the BBC have snapped up all the celebrity ones for their coverage. I see Hartson, Saunders, Savage… that’s the lot isn’t it ? And Gareth Bale. You know all the scoring pressure lies on him. The first major tournament game in ages for Wales, you knew he would score it.

The Wales fans sing ARE YOU WATCHING, ENGLAND?

England are in the same group, and this is game 1. It’s not the final of a competition Wales knocked England out of, both teams are still in it: there’s nothing to gloat at yet, Wales.

Wales win, well done… and Bale only scored one of them! Throw a national party.

I’ll write part two as England play and there may be drink consumed. Fair warning.

Strings of Life

Ferguson, Moyes, Van Gaal, Mourinho, Best, Cantona, Keane, Blind, Mata…. Zlatan

Comings and goings are part of football – rhythm is rhythm

Sunday, May 19th 2013 – the last day of the season and the last match in the managerial career of Sir Alex Ferguson; it was at the Hawthorns against West Brom and it ended five all. FIVE ALL. It was a downright bonkers match and seemingly the result of Sir Alex’s pre-match encouragement to ‘go and express yourselves’, they certainly did that. Maybe, just maybe it was the last time Manchester United showed themselves in a real attacking way.
Saturday, May 21st 2016 – Manchester United win the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace, Louis Van Gaal winning the first trophy since the end of the Ferguson era and losing his job hours later. In the intervening three years United have become a laughing-stock; David Moyes’ management made our world-class players second guess themselves, apparently his coaching methods and dossiers would focus on so many positive aspects of the opposition, the United squad would leave team meetings thinking Crystal Palace had turned into Barcelona.

sharpemcclaircantona_zpseaiktujcLouis Van Gaal came across with more promise and in the end did not deliver us to a position much higher than that of laughing-stock. It’s unfair to call him clueless, it’s perhaps nicer to say that whatever ideas were in his head never quite made it to the match day football pitch. I am glad he is gone, he had to go, it seems ruthless to do so as quickly as we did but such is life; Van Gaal knew the industry he was in.

Jose will do a lot right at Manchester United. His methods have a lot of fans worried and a lot of players are seeking assurances, sorry if this sounds cold, but all of this is good to hear. I like the idea that certain players are looking over their shoulder, I think some of them were never United quality and that some buys were only brought in because they played at a level a previous manager knew and was comfortable with. The wilderness years (they weren’t really, were they, but go with it) need to end and end now but they have changed my views on certain things.

Will he play United’s way, is he a United type? Leave all that at the door please. The men in charge of this decision saw fit to give the keys to Camelot to DAVID MOYES on the say so of Sir Alex Ferguson, the same Ferguson who had doubts about Jose. He chose DAVID MOYES. He told David Moyes that he was the next manager of Manchester United. I thank him for everything he has done in bringing my football team where we are, but he needs to sit down and be quiet. DAVID MOYES. Sir Alex has forfeited his right to express his opinion.

Juan Mata. I love Juan Mata. He comes across like he knows what playing for Manchester United is about. I’m sure he does. He’s a lovely guy by all accounts but that doesn’t change the fact that, like Van Gaal, he knows the business he got into. Jose has a history of getting rid of Juan Mata so our Spanish genius is allowed to wonder if the same will happen now. Probably. And I’ll be sad but I’ve lost Kanchelskis when I didn’t want to, Ince when I didn’t want to, Alan Smith when I didn’t want to, the man in charge decided it was time to go and they went. We will move on from the loss by buying a player of equal or better quallity. They decided to bench Best, he decided he’d move on. We moved on from Eric Cantona in terms of quality, there have been better players at OT since the Frenchman said au reviour, none have meant the same to me personally, he is the King, but we did move on from him.
Daley Blind almost made Mourinho’s mind up for him by speaking out in support of Louis Van Gaal. It’s commendable, on some level but on another more realistic level you cannot have a player appear to call out the upper level management on the way they handle anything. An ex player mouthing off is bad enough, you wish they just leave the memories alone, but a player currently on club books cannot say the things attributed to Blind. Players do grow a set when they are with their international squads, Blind’s pair appear to have gained him a first class ticket out of Manchester.

I want Manchester United to be the best they can be, I’m sorry that certain players had their Old Trafford years while we were shit and won’t taste the glory that might be about to come back – but they have Man United on their CV so I’m sure they will be fine. The same applies to Ryan Giggs, we have to leave at the door his history with us – it’s as a player for one thing, he has yet to achieve anything as a coach and he has been part of the backroom at Old Trafford during not one but two disastrous periods. He may achieve good things as a coach, but he will have to do that away from us for now. The reports that he is “disappointed” not to be considered for the main job can be believed but I have to ask, how big is Ryan Giggs’ ego for him to be thinking he was in with a legitimate shout of the managing at Manchester United. Someday maybe, not now. He may be dissapointed and surprised, I was not.

Thanks for the memories, Ryan, my God they were good. We love you.

At the end of the day, there is one thing to bear in mind; players come and go, they smack you with brilliance and then depart and most of them ride of into the sunset without opening their gobs and ruining their mystique. Managers come and go, this one will go, eventually, hopefully at the end of a haul of silverware and the start of a period of continued dominance; the foundations laid to rule Britannia, once again.

The fans are Manchester United, we will be here for every game next season and beyond – you cannot leave your football team (OK so you can, some United fans have proven that too now I come to think of it, splitters).

Welcome back, Manchester United – let’s go and sign Ibrahimovic – he’s an arrogant SOB and I’m going to love him, WE are going to love him. It’ll be a good ride, hold on tight.