Sunday, July 12, 2020
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It has been a month since my last column. A lot can change in a month. My last entry detailed the sluggish England victory over a hapless Andorra, a laboured performance that had people cringing in anticipation at the thought of facing Croatia in their impregnable Maksimir stadium. Press accusations that Capello was potentially another expensive foreign flop who had done little in terms of changing either the squads morale or personnel were rife. 

 

 A few weeks later and the bleak outlook has pendulumed back to exuberant optimism as three sucsessive wins, twelve goals, a breakthrough Walcott performance and an on song Rooney have the nation believing in the national team again. A bunch of overpaid primadonna misfits a month ago. We can win the World Cup in 2010 now ! Certainly a man to blow my own trumpet to the extent that I could add more instruments to my repertoire and form a one man band, I'm glad my statement in a prior blog that I had faith in Capello's ability and that fans should never take notice of friendly performances has proven to be justified so far.

 

It would seem from all reports that the Italian has made the England squad a more professionally run outfit, the influence of WAG's and slags (well, if you're bedding Peter Crouch...) being curtailed and the circus like atmosphere alluded to by Rio Ferdinand replaced by a more focused mentality. On that subject, I thought those comments from Rio were a bit rich seeing as how in the build-up to the World Cup, he seemed far busier setting up his team mates for "hilarious" wind ups for a budget ITV show that made Jeremy Beadle look positively Machiavellian. I'm glad that under the Capello regime, indulging in "mirks" won't be tolerated.



So, a month on and its all change with England. Onto the Premiership, where in most respects, a lot remains the same. Familiar faces at the top as the irrepressible "Big 4" have all gravitated to the top of the table to the suprise of no-one. What is shocking is the identity of the team sandwiched amongst them. Hull !



As a former Bristol City season ticket holder, I desperately want to dislike Hull. Saturday 24th May was a day that will long live in my memory for all the wrong reasons. Not only did the Tigers deliver the fatal blow to my teams promotion dreams, but due to some ticket fiasco confusion, I was left stranded outside Wembley. I was feverishly circling the stadium, entertaining the possibility of purchasing a tout ticket when Windass volleyed home, although of course I was oblivious to the identity of the scoring team. I strained to hear if the cheers sounded northern or west country, the prevailing chant of "City" in the aftermath of the goal was little help. The second half was spent watching the game in a pub, the Robins performance lacklustre, the beer expensive & watered down. A bad day. Being a bitter fellow, I hoped that Hull would have a terrible season of Derby County proportions.



However, they have won me around. I can pinpoint the exact moment. I was around the flat of my flabby, slovenly friend Darren (The Ass Man). It wasn't necessary to include those two adjectives, but its fun to mock one's friends, especially when they are a smug "Big 4" style fan who loves to wax lyrical about the wonderful flowing football that his team Arsenal plays, but who rarely witnesses it in person. As the lardy greasemonger has Setanta, we were settled down in his front room to watch Arsenal play Hull. "Come around Rome Boy, witness some goals" he had breezily stated.

 

Undeservedly, the gooners took the lead through an own goal. The porky scruff slouched back into his chair, complacently expecting a rout to follow. Not so. One of my favourite football moments occurred ten minutes later when playmaker Geovanni picked up the ball in an innocuous looking position by the flank, 30 yards from goal. 

 

"He scored a couple of long rangers last season, do you fear Geovanni ?" I suggested.
"Ppff, no, Fuck Geovanni" Darren arrogantly opined, full of bravado and feeling safe in his invincibe ivory Emirates tower looking down on poor little Hull.
No sooner had the words left his lips, the ball left the Brazilians boot and rocketed into the back of the net. I was still guffawing at the chubby vagrants misfortune, when, incredibly Cousin scored the winner.

 

Not only did my old mucker Darren lose his pride, but the Arsenal Hull result ensured that he lost an accumulator bet as well ! Unsuprisingly, I warmed to Hull after this and the whole country is starting to appreciate their exciting 4-3-1-2 brand of football. Its anyones guess about how long it will last, but with Phil Brown borrowing a line from Hulls last victims West Ham, making statements about blowing up more bubbles when the current one bursts, they certainly aren't lacking confidence. He's already done it once - a month ago, Hull were walloped 0-5 at home to Wigan and everyone expected them to plummet after that, but 4 wins and a draw later and they find themselves third in the league.

 

What a difference a month can make ! Unless, you're Newcastle or Spurs of course, in which case, you're still a comedy embarassment and woeful under-performers respectively.

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