By Miles Davis
Slaying the Dragon
The first is the inevitable disappointment of failure at major tournaments, usually by way of a penalty shoot-out, the other is the unseemly sense of enjoyment everyone else seems to get out of your demise and the disproportionate amount of stick that follows.
This sense of schadenfreude is amplified if the loss happens to be against another British (or Irish) side. No wonder then, as kick off for the Wales v England game approached, that every England fan was filled with a deep sense of unease as well as the usual excitement of another International fixture.
England did their best to ease the tension by dominating most of the first half but their inability to make their superiority count left nagging doubts at the back of the mind that disaster may well strike. And it did.
Minutes before half-time Wales get a free-kick almost 30 yards from goal. Surely even Gareth Bale can’t score from there. He did.
Ably assisted by a rather lame piece of goal-keeping from Joe Hart which made it an even more bitter pill to swallow.
It was obvious to all bar England manager Roy Hodgson that Raheem Sterling added nothing to his side’s cause but surely there was zero chance that the conservative Hodgson would make any changes. Blow me down he did. Off go Sterling and Harry Kane and on come Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy.
Once again England are in the ascendency and after 56 minutes Vardy levels the score.
The expected winner was not coming despite all of England’s possession and as injury time approached England fans were contenting themselves with the fact that at least they had not lost and therefore the ribbing would be mitigated.
Then with a minute of injury time left to play a the twinkling toes of Dele Alli and Sturridge performed a footballing pas de deux before Sturridge poked home the winner.
Spontaneous combustion followed which was enhanced by the downcast faces of the Welsh masses.
Normally one would have felt a degree of sympathy with our Celtic neighbours but Gareth Bale’s pre-match digs at England meant the pervading emotion was smug satisfaction that the coal-mining, sheep-botherers had been subdued.
The Dragon had been slayed and all was well in the world.
Passionate fans are an asset to any team and their vocal support can often lift a performance.
Idiot fans can have the opposite effect as amply displayed by the Croatian morons who badly let their side down in the game against the Czech Republic.
Croatia had dominated the encounter with some attractive football and worked their way to a comfortable 2-0 lead with 15 minutes left to play. Out of the blue the Czechs pulled a goal back and for the next ten minutes had a period of ascendency.
Then just as the Croatians had retaken control of the game and were cruising towards a win, some of their ‘fans’ decided to throw some flares onto the pitch.
The game was stopped and there was a danger that referee Mark Clatternburg was going to abandon it. When the game restarted the Croatians had lost their momentum and conceded a penalty in the time added on for the disruption.
The acts of a few morons had not only contributed to the demise of their side on the pitch (and put their future in the competition in doubt) but had tarnished the reputation of all Croatian fans, the majority of who are passionate but well-behaved. Twats.
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