2020 vision: Giggsy-wiggsy, football coming home, Arsène's pre-teen wonders... weren't they, wasn't it, hmmmm?
Sunday 27 December 2009
The decade got off to a miserable start. Remember the jubilation when England got an "easy" draw for the 2010 World Cup? That soon ended. England's campaign in South Africa got off to a nightmarish start when David Beckham, plainly disoriented by altitude sickness, came on with five minutes left against the USA and dispatched a free-kick into his own net. Then the squad had to head home early after the WAGs were imprisoned in Zimbabwe while on an ill-advised shopping trip to Bulawayo, having been arrested for disturbing the peace when they found nothing to buy in the shops. Only slightly more successful (more of which later) was England's hosting of the 2018 World Cup thanks to the last-minute intervention of Dame Susan Boyle.
In 2011, Tiger Woods returned to competitive action after a 15th operation to complete his facial reconstruction. But at Augusta he found himself pitted against his son Sam, a four-year-old prodigy. Tears and tantrums followed, but Tiger was forced to concede defeat in a play-off. A new golf tournament was unveiled in the US, at which all 120 of Woods' children played against each other. The standard became so high that all other forms of the game were superseded and Dwain Chambers abandoned his hopes of joining the PGA Tour.
2012: the big year for Britain and sport... Or so we'd thought. The London Olympics soon descended into farce when Tube workers called a three-week strike and Boris Johnson set his hair on fire while carrying the torch at the opening ceremony. Tom Daley became the nation's darling by winning gold in the diving, and on football pitches around the country children tried to copy him. But he was stripped of his medal after testing positive for TCP, by then on the list of banned substances. Daley claimed he was using it to treat his shaving rash, but his former diving partner Blake Aldridge was overheard telling his mum he spiked the pool.
Cricket should have given our sporting fans some joy and indeed, in 2013 England regained the Ashes on home soil, albeit with a team comprising only players born in South Africa. A leak from inside the Australian Cricket Board had revealed that the Aussies toughened up their act by fielding a team comprising only convicts. To combat declining interest in the game, the England and Wales Cricket Board pioneered a shortlived format in which bowlers had to juggle while running in and batsmen rode monocycles.
The shock news that Ryan Giggs was to be cloned was announced by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2014, encouraged by stem-cell research that helped to reshape his nose and re-attach his chin. The arthritic Welshman finally got to appear in a World Cup tournament at the age of 41 after Wales were given special dispensation to make their first appearance since 1958, according to that new Fifa ruling allowing any country with a chip on its shoulder to qualify by virtue of relentless whingeing. Fifa lived to regret that particular dispensation...
A nation hung its head in shame the following year when England hosted the Rugby World Cup and the squad had, amid lurid allegations of drug-fuelled binges at their training camp in Bath, to move their base to the Priory Clinic. Then they were eliminated in the quarter-finals by a physical Fijian outfit when the referee refused to believe that their multiple blood injuries were not faked.
After all the fuss about who would host it, the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro passed without anything remarkable happening. Apart from Dwain Chambers narrowly missing out on gold for Swaziland in the synchronised swimming.
Scandal erupted (again) in the world of football when Arsenal won their first League championship under Arsène Wenger in 13 years in 2017. They were, Gooners are at pains to forget, stripped of the title when it was revealed that Wenger had fielded players as young as six in the Carling Cup. In response to Arsenal's resurgence and in an attempt to shore up his dwindling fortune, Roman Abramovich unveiled Chelsea's latest signing, a cyborg that was half-robot, half-petulant teenager. The experiment was discontinued after several London nightclubs were razed to the ground.
Of course, the World Cup finally "came home" after 52 years in '18, a wave of patriotic hysteria resulting in an early General Election and the British National Party coming perilously close to power. Not that it did England much good, as they lost in the final after goal-line technology went on the blink and Germany were awarded a controversial winner.
And so the decade has come to an end with Andy Murray emotionally announcing his retirement after losing in the Wimbledon final to Dwain Chambers, conceding that he will never win a Grand Slam event. And, thankfully, the WAGs finally being released by President Mugabe. n
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