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”.