I like to think that I am a patriotic person. I truly love England and want my country to do well in all sports, especially when playing overseas, with all kinds of ordinary guys going to extraordinary lengths in representing our great nation.
I often walk through Green Park towards Buckingham Palace and feel proud of our brave, loyal soldiers and the queen that they protect. I don’t, however, support the ‘minor royals’ who I find a bit grubby and much too keen to make a quick PR return for themselves while the going’s good.
I support all British football clubs when they play in European competition, just as I vaguely want our artists (who are sometimes also singers) to win Eurovision each year. I would not want us to try to bribe the international juries, though we would certainly win more often if we did – even playing John Cage’s “Four minutes, thirty-three seconds” which is effectively silence in three movements (a bit like a cup tie at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light which goes into extra time – before they lose).
I once wanted to be Bobby Charlton but never Franz Beckenbauer; I would never have wanted us to secure the rights to host the World Cup next year by offering backhanders, or pretend that it was impossible for any football to cross the line behind any German defender (and certainly not one so modest as to love it up under the nickname of ‘Kaiser’ which, in another, terrible era stood for arrogance, self-importance, betrayal and, ultimately, failure).
I don’t enjoy hearing Kaiseresque, jingoistic, ignorant singing during any other country’s national anthem, nor mindless drunkenness or violence that often accompanies our country abroad – especially from so-called football fans who drive BMWs in their other lives.
So, where is all of this going? Is Mark just a bit fed up with the international break like everyone else?
Well, looking at the news headlines this morning, one stuck out for me as a beacon of transparency and internationalism.
It wasn’t ‘Hazard free to talk’ which obviously refers to Eden being allowed to open his mouth while eating his ego, as opposed to Micky who won the FA Cup and UEFA Cup with Spurs before, ahem, the Full Members Cup with Chelsea.
It wasn’t ‘Martin booed’ which could have been about Martin O’Neill lamenting the ‘poor tackle’ that broke Séamus Coleman’s leg not once but twice and being told to get back in his little green box; it was, of course, referring to Chris Martin scoring the winner for Scotland at Hampden (they certainly know the true meaning of ‘one of our own’ up there).
It wasn’t even ‘Blind sacked’ which could have meant that Mourinho found out about Marcus Rashford being tapped up by Daley to play for the Netherlands in the Euro Under-21 tournament this summer; it was of course about the other D. Blind who was sacked after the Dutch National Team lost to Bulgaria (partly through not having any players like Marcus Rashford, and partly because self-destruction is an essential part of the Oranje DNA).
No, it was of course ‘Wilshire wants Milan.’ What, all of it?
Jack Wilshire has decided that the red and black football strip looks pretty stylish. The only problem is that he is currently wearing it for AFC Bournemouth. The Daily Mail believes (which usually means that it’s either a slow news day in Middle England or imagination is in short supply) that ‘The Three Lions’ star is contemplating a move from AFC to just plain old AC. AC may be short on letters but it is, after all, a lot bigger than Dorset when it comes to stages to show off on.
Jack vaguely remembers his previous reddish kit – which is pretty good really as it, rather confusingly, had white in it rather than black – but can’t talk about it right now as those deeply hurtful memories of blood and bandages cannot just be obliterated by switching off ‘Casualty’ on a Saturday evening.
No, there is much more to Jack than this. Not content with effectively snubbing Eddie Howe, who gave him a chance to re-build his career (if not his glass ankles, obviously) before the season is even finished; not content with taking the £90,000 each week from a ‘small’ club where people might notice him, and then attempting to blackmail them in public to keep him on the payroll; not content with being an abject failure for England in France last summer, Jack is persuaded by that nice David Beckham that Milan is where he should prostitute himself next; talking of which, Victoria really liked it there, apparently.
So, this tale clearly isn’t restricted to England, or loyalty or pride or respect. It might not be about using PR contacts in high places either. But, at least Jack isn’t hiding his self-interest under a bushel, because then we’d no doubt be talking about Sam Allardyce again and why he will never leave a palace with a medal.