Sunday Life

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Fawning TV coverage of England’s Euro run is just ignorant… I’ll keep the sick bucket beside me tonight

Liam Beckett


England players celebrate their semi-final victory over Denmark

England players celebrate their semi-final victory over Denmark

England players celebrate their semi-final victory over Denmark

Thank goodness I have always been more of a radio man than a TV addict because this past fortnight would have scunnered even a saint with the seemingly endless wall to wall coverage of the England football team’s performances and progress at Euro 2020.

By all means give the players and the manager the credit they fully deserve but, for goodness sake, please understand we are not all English, so try and learn when and where to draw the line with the over-the-top adulation.

Even though they undoubtedly had the benefit of the weaker side of the draw from the outset, and perhaps they’ve had the rub of the green from the referees in certain games, there is no getting away from the fact that the team have been very good and, even though I find manager Gareth Southgate as engaging and funny as a broken ankle, there is no disputing the fact that he has done a superb job so far, so credit where credit is due.

However, if we were to heed or indeed believe as gospel some of the emphatic and partisan commentary and punditry — particularly from the English experts themselves — you would swear England only have to turn up to win it tonight.

They are, of course, perfectly entitled to feel proud of what they have achieved to date, but the entire nation has been spoon-fed the biggest load of hype I think I have ever heard by these people.

Nevertheless, I genuinely feel that a lot of the anti-English sentiments in these Finals — and the number is growing — is unfair on the team. It’s not their fault that these commentators and biased pundits always seem to lose the run of themselves and go completely overboard with their assertions as to how good England are.

Despite major global happenings around the world, even the bloody national news on several channels led with the England football team at the very top of the programme!

While we’re on the subject, what’s all this ‘Sweet Caroline’ stuff about?

It’s being heralded as the Three Lions’ unofficial anthem as if Northern Ireland and the Green and White Army haven’t been belting it out for years!

If I’m honest, I may well watch this evening’s Final but please spare me any of the sickening pre-during-and post-game rhetoric. Chances are I will still keep a bucket beside the sofa just in case.

Irish League clubs all still have chance of progressing in Europe

Mixed fortunes for our clubs in Europe this week, but I feel all have a chance of progressing to the second qualifying round of their respective competitions.

Linfield perhaps have the most difficult challenge as they have to somehow claw back a 3-1 deficit against Lithuanian visitors Zalgiris and that won’t be easy because the Blues have recently lost several of their experienced names and, although they have also recruited, it takes time for players to settle and, with these European games coming so quickly, finding that time is nigh on impossible.

Coleraine, 2-1 down from their first leg, are still well in the tie with Bosnian opponents Velez.

The Bannsiders have players with previous European experience within their ranks and they will know exactly what is required to get the job done.

Glentoran have most certainly given themselves every chance with a very creditable first-leg draw against The New Saints.

They could and perhaps should have won the home leg but, if they can keep it tight at the back and with the firepower they have up front, my money is on the men from the east to progress.

Finally, what can I say that hasn’t already been said about Larne other than that they got an absolutely superb result against Bala Town?

A 1-0 away win sets them up nicely for the return at Inver Park. For a club playing in Europe for the very first time, they are a credit to us all.

NIFL is in safe hands with Gerard Lawlor taking the reins

Since its inception in 2013, I have never once underestimated the excellent contribution the Northern Ireland Football League have made to our game.

They inherited an infrastructure that was on its knees. Dwindling attendances were a mark of a tired football scene that, in all honesty, was a complete mess and in serious decline.

Since then, however, NIFL have systematically and methodically transformed domestic football into the thriving scene it is today — a product that is constantly growing in popularity season after season and something we can all be proud of.

Even so, I must admit that when Managing Director Andrew Johnston left last year, I genuinely feared NIFL would suffer because I had — and still have — a lot of faith in Andrew but, fear not, because just this week came the announcement that NIFL have appointed their first ever Chief Executive Officer in Gerard Lawlor.

This is an excellent move because Gerard is a proper football person and he has been in and around the coalface of our game for a considerable number of years and has more than served his apprenticeship.

The outgoing Cliftonville Chairman is also well respected and liked by many others in football and, believe me, he will do his absolute best for all the member clubs within his remit. It’s a relief to know that our game is, and will continue to be, in good hands and I wish him every success.

I salute Victor Leonard for bringing over Manchester United’s academy side

I know it was with a heavy heart that Victor Leonard and his team had to cancel this year’s SuperCupNI.

Believe me when I say they never stop looking at ways of promoting youth football in the province and, once again, they have pulled another cracker out of the hat.

The news that the committee have arranged for a Manchester United academy side to play three games to mark the club’s first Milk Cup victory in 1991 — when David Beckham and co took the honours — is music to the ears of all United fans.

The first game is against Coleraine at Seahaven in Portstewart on July 26 ahead of an encounter with Ballymena United at The Showgrounds two days later.

Finally, on July 30, they’ll face Linfield at Dixon Park, Ballyclare, and ticket information is available from SuperCupNI’s social media outlets.

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