Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the Box: It’s another line mess for England

You would think that after 44 years (and counting) of hurt that the Beeb would know better than to build up yet another bunch of losers.

But enough of the presenters, Fabio’s lot didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory either and with the vuvuzelas already gathering dust under the stairs the inquests have started.

I would blame Alan Hansen, the Lord Haw-Haw in their ranks, who started the cruel ball rolling on Sunday.

“I don’t know what all the fuss is about, England have the better players and if they play well, they win.” Cue huge inward Teutonic guffaw.

“The Germans are masters of getting the job done but they’re eminently beatable,” And again.

He wasn’t alone. While they didn’t come on wearing tin-hats and whistling the Dad’s Army theme, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Lee Dixon were shaking with nationalistic fervour. Either that or the supports on the big green house were giving way.

The hype was ridiculous, the daft England fever news item shown again, Brian Blessed brought on to roar ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends’, accompanied by a myriad of English sporting greats reading out the rest of the passage. Presumably Gazza was asked but he coloured in his Big Boy’s Book of Shakespeare instead.

“Match 51 of this World Cup, that’s 51 or 5-1 if you prefer,” smarmed commentator Guy Mowbray.

It should have been by half-time, the first goal a classic.

“This is a goal you’ll see in every pub game that’s been played this morning,” yelped ‘Irishman’ Mark Lawrenson.

“England haven’t come from behind to win a World Cup game since you know when — 1966. Time for that to change.” Indeed Guy, what are the odds of a controversial ball over-the-line incident happening again?

Well what do you know. As Christine looked on her Frank lobbed one towards goal and the only cheer louder than hers was from Mowbray.

“Lampard, brilliant, it’s crossed the line,” wailed Guy.

We know the rest.

“What is it FIFA doesn’t want? Technology. Thanks very much Sepp Blatter. I hope he’s here, I hope he’s squirming in his seat,” said Mark who suddenly realised he’s from Preston.

Half-time and time for level heads and calm, considered reflection.

“We’ve gone from the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous,” said Gary, a bit harsh on Guy and Mark but they’ve been away along time and tempers fray when you’re not getting enough crisps.

“It’s four yards over the line,” said Hansen. Now Alan, I’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate, while Shearer reduced the gap to a yard, and Harry Redknapp later said it was at least a foot. Where is there a Russian draughtsman when you need one?

“I don’t think I’ve seen a more inept display,” added Hansen and I wasn’t sure who he meant until Shearer helpfully pointed out that ‘goals change games’. You don’t say.

And so the misery continued in the second period, the Germans scoring a third before Gareth Barry ran like Barry from Eastenders to allow Muller to score a fourth, and afterwards a proper Cockney rebel, Redknapp said what we were all thinking. “We need a goal and we bring Emile Heskey on and take off Jermain Defoe.” Cor blimey, guv, you’re ‘avin a laff.

And just when they thought it was all over, it was and more droning tubes on a pitch, with Gabby Logan interviewing Capello. Turn up the vuvuzelas please.

At least ITV could see the writing on the wall. They admitted defeat by sticking on an episode of Columbo. Sad to see a bumbling curly-haired man struggling to make sense of some criminal goings-on right in front of him, but enough of Fabio's problems. There's just one thing I don't understand — Heskey. Even Peter Falk couldn't solve that one.

And the inquests continued. Even BBC News was at it, Sally Nugent reporting on Monday afternoon as face paint was still drying on tear-stained pillows.

Standing outside the ground in Cape Town, she told us: “If England had won they would have been playing here on Saturday.” Indeed Sally, and if your granny had Jabulanis she'd be your granda.

Belfast Telegraph

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