Sunday, July 02, 2006


Nearly 24 hours after England's ignominious exit from the 2006 World Cup and things are slowly returning to normality. Travelling back home from the coast today I noticed a slight reduction in the number of St. George's Crosses flying from cars - the atmosphere out and about certainly more subdued than the tangible excitement buzzing around before yesterday's game.

The English love their Footie and during a World Cup the blanket coverage infiltrates every facet of daily life. Ad breaks are littered with product placements, tournament tie-ins and celebrity footballer endorsements (particularly painful to witness Michael Owen, just after being stretched off against Sweden, prancing about an Asda supermarket brandishing a take-away curry with a mixture of bemusement and embarrassment).

Society is now so enlightened and/or celebrity driven that during matches we get unwarrented cutaways to Mrs. Beckham, the former Posh Spice, and "World Cup Widows" can find their own footballing entertainment through the exploits of the WAGS posse, splashed all over the pages of glossy mags and tabloid newspapers.

When it comes to tournament itself, all that ceaselessly snide Cup chatter from Tabloid journalists proves to be the biggest taxation, the entire event being treated like a Roy of the Rovers comic book.

A genuine Football comic book is the one thing I haven't seen during this year's festivities - you'd expect to find the 21st century a far too sophisticated era for the innocent jollity of the Football Family Robinson or a "Death Match" between Chelbridge Rovers and Inter Mazio, but the pocket sized Football Picture Story Monthly (represented here with a few early covers) ran from 1986 until three years ago.

Wayne Rooney even featured as a back cover star in one of the final issues, although I doubt any characters pre-empted the poor chap by frustratedly stamping on someone's personal tackle in that particular edition...

Ultimately though, when you think of what might have been this year - a Beckham captained England winning the World Cup, in Germany, 40 years after 1966 - it's a shame life isn't a bit more like a comic book at times...



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