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

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

music
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

film
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

film
Arts and Entertainment

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Jess Glynne is UK number 1

music

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

film
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
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.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor