Let's all blame Mrs Thatcher

England's defeat will signal wholesale psychic collapse

IT'S COMING home, it's coming home. Probably rather sooner than we would have hoped, football's coming home.

If it's not the ruthless Romanians, it will be the niggly Nigerians or the French fanny-merchants or those Brazilians, cynically deploying their superior ball-skills. We cling to the fantasy as if believing will somehow bring it closer, but, deep down, we know that, soon or later, some twinkle- toed foreigner is going to tango his way through our lads and the dream will be over.

Are we ready for this moment? For any country, it would be difficult; for us, now the world's most sensitive and emotionally vulnerable nation, it could signal a wholesale psychic collapse. There will be rage, confusion, public weeping. Huge seismic shifts in political attitudes will take place. Families will fall apart. Tearful, red-eyed gangs will roam the streets, desperate to express their pain with bottle, boot or fist. Those who can't find a convenient target will simply beat themselves up.

None of this is necessary, so long as we are prepared for the worst and know, precisely and in advance, why the unthinkable has happened.

1. We gave the world this game and what did they do? They changed it.

Those sneaky little tricks, backheels and bicycle kicks and Blanco Bounces and triangular passes that you can't even see on the action replay, are all very well in their place - on a beach, in a barrio, bare-footed kids playing kickabout with a coconut between the grass huts - but on the pitch, in the greatest tournament in the world? Surely not.

Our lads may be left tackling thin air or sitting on their arses facing the wrong way but, at the end of the day, they will be the true winners. They played football the way it was meant to be played.

2. We gave the world this game and what did they do? They transformed it into a military exercise, cynically introducing tactics, formations, teamwork, the joyless teutonic efficiency of the parade-ground into the free-flowing game that we invented. They may have scored more goals than us but, in a deeper, aesthetic sense, we were victorious.

3. Mind you, they'll do anything to bring on a footballer, these so-called smaller nations. You know how they manage those bandy-legged runs? They take young footballers away from their villages and remove a small bone from the back of their knees which later in life enables them to do things our lads would rupture themselves even thinking about. Fair enough, if that's your attitude to the game, but it's just not part of our culture.

4. To be fair, our lads did very well considering they had been transported to a foreign country with inferior cookery, appalling weather, a poor disciplinary record when it comes to sexual morality, not to mention a habit of staying up well into the night discussing life, love, freedom and other things which simply keep our lads awake with worry.

5. It may be down to that moment when Dana International won the Eurovision Song Contest. Once we thought we knew where we were - naff competition, being held, hilariously, in Birmingham, loads of dodgy foreigners with silly haircuts and platform soles and ghastly songs that we could laugh at in an affectionate, ironic way. What happens? The gorgeous, curvy representative of a country we never thought was in Europe not only wins but turns out to be a bloke. We're on shifting sands, lads, and you don't win World Cups on shifting sands.

6. What the chattering classes and bien pensants of north London refuse to recognize is that it all started going wrong in the let-it-all-hang- out Sixties.

Once that sense of duty, self-discipline and respect for parents had given way to a wishy-washy, "The Kids are Alright" liberalism, then the next generation was doomed to a wasteland of beer, cigarettes and late- night trysts with bar-girls in lavatories. A direct cultural line stretches from Gazza's friend Five Bellies back to Germaine Greer posing for Suck magazine with her legs behind her ears.

7. When did hooliganism become fashionable, and route one football, and getting caught in possession of the ball? When, in fact, did everything start going wrong? You've got it. Thatcher - let's all blame Thatcher.

Miles Kington is on holiday

Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
film
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape