Ingerland win historic penalty kick drama amid scenes of mass hysteria

July 4, 2018


St George

Yes, I can remember where I was when ….fill in the gaps: Princess Di was killed; Johnny Wilkinson kicked that penalty to win the Rugby world cup for England; Barack Obama was sworn in for the first time …

And last night, where I was when England won a penalty shootout for the first time in the world-cup of football.

Like many others I was alone. At home. A deliberate choice. I could have bonded at the Northern Tennis Club which where for once Wimbledon coverage took second place to the footie. I could have joined the football-scale crowds in Manchester’s public viewing areas, or cheering on the football at the other Old Trafford, where the spectators were more interested in the news from Moscow than in the cricket where England were taking a right pasting from India in a T20 match.

My voice of viewing may have meant I was partly isolated from the hysteria which appeared to sweep the nation. Yes, the nation of Inglerland, Motherland of parliaments. There even appeared to be support, even in bastions of nationalism in the Celtic fringes of what is for the moment  still a United Kingdom of Ingerland, Wales, Northern Ireland,(and for the purposes of any referendum, the Rock of Gibraltar).

The match seemed to be heading to a close Ingerland victory, thanks to wonder-striker Harry (Hurricane) Kane after a close and very illegal encounter with Carlos Sanchez. Then the (inevitable?) drama of a last minute equaliser by the colossus Yerry Mina imported from Barcelona along with forty thousand fans from central casting.

And so to extra time

Extra time which was always destined, as was the penalty shootout at which Ingerland is spectacularly bad. It’s when we do, part of the brand. But that is only an absolute and universal law when we are playing against Germany.

And so it unfolded. The great football script-writer in the sky arranged for Columbia’s goalkeeper Ospina (on loan from Arsenal)  to save Henderson’s penalty kick brilliantly. The tragedy unfolds.

Dier only has to kick the ball into the net to save Ingerland from a fate worse than a hard Brexit.

But there is another twist. A Columbian miss onto the crossbar.  That twist was from Ingerland’s goalkeeper Jordan Pickford whose trailing leg keeps the ball out. Eric Dier, who had slipped on the the field unnoticed during one of the frequent late skirmishes, steps up and only has to kick the ball into the net to save Ingerland from a fate worse than a hard Brexit.

OK, then. A breathless nation watches. Time stands still.  At 21.22 Ingerland Mean Time. He steps up, he kicks he scores. The heavens open. The Gods roar. The earth spins on its axis located in St John’s Wood.

Being partially protected, (and more than partly a member of one of the Celtic outcroppings), I am not completely and utterly swept up in an exultant surge of nationalistic pride. The unworthy thought occurs to me that the moment might be historic, but it is even more so a hysteric one.

The moment might be historic, but it is even more so a hysteric one

A celebrity showing signs of chemically-aided exultation sent a semi-coherent message to the world from his kitchen. The next morning, BBC Radio 5’s Nicky Campbell, left behind to look after a deserted studio in Salford, found a way of morphing his love of all things Scottish, with a new fervour for Ingerland. He was even unable to find time to mourn the reported murder of a giraffe by an American trophy hunter who had claimed she was helping the giraffe gene pool by giving young bulls a better chance to mate.

It’s a funny old world. Or, as another of the Guardian journalists put it “Do not adjust your reality. This is really happening”.


Even the snowflake-whiteness of The Guardian was temporarily red-blooded in its joy for the boys. (“Joy and review as England break curse of the penalty shootout”). In that same illustrious newspaper in its new shrunken tabloid format, news of the Tham Lung rescue attempt can be found on page 8, and news of Brexit left to a column from their sublime satirist John Crace. Football 9 Brexit 1.

It’s a funny old world. Or, as another of the Guardian journalists put it “Do not adjust your reality. This is really happening”.



Senator McCain Can Go All the Way

March 5, 2008


Senator John McCain can go all the way to The White House. Politics is the art of the possible. McCain is looking more and more a possible winner

Events are lining up favourably for Senator John McCain. It works for him that the Democrats still have two candidates. It works for him that he can campaign without having to go back on the themes which have brought him to prominence over the last four years. Even the looming problems in Latin America seem likely to work in his favour.

America had anticipated some resolution in the race for the Presidency this week. It was expected that the Democrats would whittle down their candidates to one who would be strong favourite not just for the nomination, but to become the next Pesident of the United States.

So what happens? Events continue to defy prediction. Hillary Clinton wins in Rhode Island. It couldn’t be more symbolic, but a win is a win. It is enough to keep her in the race.

Meanwhile Ecuador and Columbia draw up troops on their common border. President Chavez of Columbia and Correa of Columbia both seem in confrontational mood.
According to The Statesman, Chavez accuses Correa of initiating a cross-border incursion of tanks and troops.

Denouncing Colombia’s slaying of rebels in a cross-border raid into Ecuador, President Chavez said Sunday [March 2nd 2008] that Venezuela will respond militarily if Colombia violates its border. He ordered Rafael Correa ‘s Embassy in Bogota closed. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa also ordered troops to the Colombian border, withdrew his government’s ambassador from Bogota and ordered Colombia’s top diplomat expelled.

These events seem unlikely to have had much influence on the immediate outcome of the Primary elections this week. But they could well have more of an influence in the months ahead.

Suddenly, the excitement for many Americans generated by Barack Obama’s campaign may seem not quite as potent. His promise of radical change not so all-consuming and satisfactory. Likewise, the experience of Hillary Clinton appears less a convertible asset in a Presidential campaign against a warrior hero whose potential popularity is increasingly drawing comparison that of the much-loved Ronald Reagan.

All in all, the road to the White House is opening up for McCain.

That’s not to say that the battle is over. It has hardly begun. But however charged with difficulties, it is not going to be simple matter of the Democratic Party picking the next President from two likely winners.