At this time of year, or every two years to be precise, for the last 30 years I have readied myself for a major football tournament and if England are playing, I would be travelling to support them. This time I have decided to stay at home. Well actually I have decamped to north Majorca with some mates to watch a few of the games and try and drum up some personal enthusiasm for the European Championships 2012.
I wondered if it was my age? It’s not as I have already decided to go to Brazil in 2014 for the next World Cup. Is it the location? I must admit I have never been to Ukraine, which is normally a reason to travel, but no the location is neither here or there. To remember why I decided to give this tournament a miss and watch from afar, all I have to do is take myself back to Port Elizabeth and then Bloemfontein two years ago. One game saw the ‘Golden Generation’ totally misfire and manage a 0-0 with Tunisia and the other saw us get a wholesale beating at the hands of Germany who played us off the park. The FA’s reaction to 2010 was palpable and only when Fabio Capello decided that he too didn’t fancy a summer holiday in Eastern Europe with players who believe they are better than they really are, did he leave the job of manager.
We had the phoney war of Harry Redknapp, ‘will he, won’t he’ be the next England manager. In the end it was the venerable Sir Trevor who decided his old West Ham compadre was not the right sort and Roy Hodgson got the job. I didn’t expect a revolution at the FA, in many ways their hands are tied, but I wanted more youth in the team, players who are hungry. To some extent, we have some youth. The likes of Hart, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Young and Jones give cause for hope. For me ‘young’ Theo Walcott does nothing. We lost Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry to injury, which will be a blessing in my view and when Gary Cahill got his jaw broken last week, we shipped in Martin Kelly, who I have not seen much of, I must admit. So we have got some youth in for sure.
Sadly though, John Terry is still there, despite all of his largesse and hubris from four years back. No matter what you think of him, he brings controversy wherever he goes. It appears that no manager has been able to stand up to him, he always gets his own way. Even in Munich, when suspended for The Champions League final, he decided to change into a full kit, including shinpads, and get his hands on the cup. The gentleman that is Frank Lampard, stood aside and let his captain lead the celebrations. Whether John Terry is a racist or not is neither here or there in my book. The bottom line is he is divisive. He is a bully and there is no place for him in our national team. After holding his own personal press conference at the last World Cup, clearly undermining the manager and those in charge. I thought he would be shown the door, permanently.
Whilst we are on the subject of racism, let’s hope the supporters inside the stadiums of Poland and Ukraine don’t let their nations and UEFA down and start all their neo Nazi stuff. Surely these people know their history? At the last World Cup most of the participating teams took time out to visit Robben Island, the place where many including Nelson Mandela were imprisoned by a cruel, Apartheid, racist regime. Most, however, did not include the England team. They decided to play golf instead and at that point I thought stuff it, I will not support them again until attitudes change.
I was very encouraged to see that the England team have today visited Auschwitz. If ever there was a symbol of the evil of racism and totalitarian regimes, that is it. You never know, someone at the FA may have learned that our England players need to play their part and show that they have some humility and are prepared to do the right thing. You never know, I may even break my boycott and head East if they progress to the second stages!