Saturday, 19 October 2013

BANTS!: Twats and Space Monkeys

Welcome to BANTS!, Week 3. The football column which says, "What do you mean you don't want a drink? Whatever, love. Probably a lesbian, anyway."

We love international week here at "Bants", particularly when it's a competitive international double-header. Not because it's enjoyable- it seldom is- but because of the creeping, clammy panic of  Premier League football fans who are confronted with the emptiness of their own lives like dying men staring into the depths of eternity.
Not Ryan Giggs
But international football isn't without its amusements, not least in the self-flagellation, hyperbole, and navel gazing that consumes the English media when their fair to-middling football team takes, or is about to take, to the field. The latest victim of this cycle is one Andros Townsend. Townsend, making his first starts for England, is hopelessly, hopelessly, doomed. The Spurs winger played fairly well as England swept aside pedestrian Polish and Montenegran sides and, inevitably, was hailed as the second coming.

You see, Towsend's problem is not that he's a bad player. In fact, in the fullness of time, he may prove to be a very good player. Townsend's problem is that he isn't Welsh. Since the sumptuously gifted Chris Waddle was disregarded by Graham 'Turnip' Taylor in the early 90s, England has gazed covetously at Wales' improbable ability to produce left sided wingers of World Class ability. For a long time, that man was Ryan Giggs, then it was Gareth Bale, and now, well it's pretty much anyone with a left foot and a bit of pace.

Despite the fact that  Giggs was never qualified to play for England, the myth persists in the media that this was a possibility. Not that he wouldn't have leapt at the chance, of course, as his toadying to the British Olympic Association (and its sponsors, whose money in no way convinced FIFA to completely suspend its own laws to allow the team to happen) demonstrated. Although, under the "gentleman's agreement" which exists between the so-called home nations, a player in Giggs' situation in the future- i.e. one who received 5 years compulsory schooling in a particular country- could indeed have chosen to play for England.
Wore this on his brother's Mrs.
The trouble with gentlemen's agreements, of course, is that they assume that all the agreeable parties are, in fact, gentlemen. Unfortunately for the Celtic nations, however, the FA demonstrated quite clearl, by unilaterally pressing ahead with a "British" Olympic team, that they are nothing of the sort. Enter Greg Dyke, equipped with bolshy 'meeja' talk and a used car salesman grin so that now, it seems, England don't even feel the need to pretend to be gentlemen anymore, as both Dyke and Roy Hodgson stated a desire to recruit Manchester United's "next big thing", Adnan Januzaj.
Greg Dyke
Januzaj arrived at United at the age of 16 and- were the current arrangements respected- would not be eligible to play for England. Though, so calculated seem his "representatives", it wouldn't be unsurprising if it weren't something he pursued, despite already being qualified to play for every other country in Europe. So open is this cynicism at present that the FA are now aggressively pursuing young players from the other home nations, having snatched Lloyd Jones and Jonathan Bond from Wales, and forcing them to cap a third- Liverpool's Harry Wilson- at just 16 to ward off their advances.
Liverpool's Harry Wilson
But, somehow, despite qualification, England have managed to have a bad week from a PR point of view. No, none of the machinations above have drawn reproach, rather, a furore has developed because Roy Hodgson made a joke about a "Space Monkey". According to Piara Powar of "Football Against Racism", this is, "...a silly phrase to use in a diverse workforce". When Powar uses the expression "diverse workforce", one assumes he means intellectually, so lacking in elementary faculties must the assumed complainant have been to misunderstand the nature and purpose of Hodgson's- admittedly feeble- comic analogy, let alone to address his concerns, not to the PFA or FA, but to a Scottish journalist from The Scum newspaper.
Peter Herbert
Inevitably, therefore, everyone's favourite attention grabbing twat, Peter Herbert, did not waste an opportunity to claw some headline's for his organisation, the "Society of Black Lawyers", and demanded Hodgson be publicly flogged for not pandering to a footballer's stupidity. It takes some effort to view the FA sympathetically, but Herbert has managed it by writing a four page letter to Greg Dyke (and making very sure the press know that he has) detailing the scale and nature of this outrage. The sympathy is tempered, however, by the near certainty that Dyke will have bought himself a shredder with the name "Herbert" embossed upon it, into which he will feed all of said solicitor's correspondence for the duration of his tenure.

For once, the overwhelming smugness of Dyke's grin may be forgiven.

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