Monday 14 June 2021

Euro 2020 Day 4 - Identity crisis

Straight from the off, the delayed Euro 2020 championships (the one that in years from now will be the source of much anguish as people try to recall who hosted the event; 'well, it must have been us, mustn't it? The Final was at Wembley, yeah?... but then again, I'm sure that was also the year Welsh Clive went to Azerbaijan for a game. Or maybe that was a qualifier... honestly, you can't even trust your own memories!') has been causing surprises. {before I go on, I feel it's right to say that of course the biggest shock in these early days was the collapse of Denmark's Christian Eriksen against Finland, and all of A Fan of No Importance's best wishes are with him}. 

Opening night, Italy v Turkey, and it turns out Jorginho of Chelsea is Italian. Who knew? Plenty of people, obvs, but not me. I've been watching him for the last three (?) seasons believing him to be Brazilian. In truth, I'm not certain I even considered him to be Brazilian, and probably just subconsciously recalled other Selecao players down the years with the same name. To me, he has always just been 'Jorginho of Chelsea', sprayer of passes and expert penalty taker (except when he misses, like at home to Liverpool last season - 'why the hell does he persist with that stupid, poncey, leftie, hoppy-skippy technique, eh? Asking for trouble. Don't matter it worked 20 times before, it's nah that counts. Send him back's he from, Bomber...f**king Brazil! Might have known, the c**t').

No sooner had I recovered from the revelation of the J Man having a national identity, then Leicester City's Soyuncu is playing against him for Turkey when I swear down some commentator or pundit or Talksport mouthpiece (probably Sam Matterface, the dick) mentioned that he was Greek. If this is happening to me in the first game, then I have to wonder what other episodes of incredulity are about to be thrust upon me in the next three weeks. Thank goodness Republic of Ireland haven't qualified.    

On Sunday, I watched ten minutes or so of England-Croatia, though of course I had little chance of avoiding it even though I'd committed myself to our new huge inflatable pool in the back garden in anti-tv sunshine.

"What was that noise?" Meredith asked next to me in the pool, aghast.

"I think England have just scored" I said, confident that the disappointment was disguised in my voice. No need to pass your prejudices on to your kids.

It's been three years since I came out as an English football fan who doesn't support England, but I have met new people since then that I talk regularly to, often about football, and the dilemma is always there. Meredith had a friend over during the first half who lives just round the corner, and her dad asked me if I'd "seen the team", before reading it out in expectation of my enthused or concerned response. At half time when he picked his daughter up, he talked of "a nice, bright twenty minutes". I didn't say anything, it didn't seem the time. A few days earlier, I’d already 'confessed' to another neighbour, who'd been talking with me generally before  conversation turned to the inescapable international football tournament about to start.

"What are the chances England can end up with the trophy?!" he’d speculated, at which point I closed off any possibility of warm engagement on the subject by stating my abstinence. He gave me the now customary reaction of silence while processing what exactly had just been filed into his ears. 

In 2018 I gave the impression on this blog that revealing my true self was an act of courage, or was at least my tipping point in a sea of ignorance. I truly believe that if I were to come out as gay, for instance, then the vast majority of people who know me would support and applaud my bravery, celebrating my new found freedom, and yet that support is absent whenever I explain my 'difference' regarding the national football team.

That said, thank you Guy Mowbray for saying late on in the Eng-Croa game that "no England fan will be resting easy". I salute your inclusivity. Normally an international tournament has a dizzying effect on G to the M, like a pasty ginger who's been laying out for 10 hours in 30degree sunshine protected only by a factor 4 sunscreen, but fair play to you there, pal, appreciate it.

Less appreciation from me for co-commentator - and one time League Cup Final winner, no less - Jermaine Jenas, who now sits alongside the greats of England co-voices down the years such as Jimmy Hill, Trevor Brooking, Kevin Keegan, Big Ron and Glenn Hoddle. It's fair to say JJ doesn't seem embarrassed by this, and neither, presumably, are the BBC - especially when you consider how long they've been promoting Mrs Brown's Boys. 

What do you mean "it's a man"?                          

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