Miserable, isn't it? You can almost see the case for an annual World Cup. And before someone points out that Sky is showing the entire Copa America, well yes, they are, and bless them for it. But somehow all the Latin flair and histrionics only makes you hanker all the more for a bit of honest British footy, something that you can really care about.
Which may be why the cheerfully inept players of Broughton B Under-13s struck such a chord. They were the stars, if that is the word, of a 10- minute short for BBC2 called The Worst Jewish Football Team In The World. Last season in the Manchester Soccer League (Division Two), they scored seven goals in 10 matches, and conceded 106. This tends to suggest that Broughton have strong claims to the Global Inter-Faith Wooden Spoon as well.
In a way, this film was just another reworking of a perennial favourite story among local news crews, The Team That's So Bad It's Funny. If memory serves, it used to get a regular airing on Nationwide too (the Seventies magazine show, that is, not the late-night league round-up). A gang of hapless primary school kids would be wheeled out and asked to explain why they had lost their last 40 matches by an average score of 22-0. The goalkeeper always, but always, had specs two inches thick, and no one ever pointed out that they came from such a God-forsaken - sorry, rural - part of the country that they had to play two four-year-olds in the centre of defence and a sheepdog on the left wing.
But this time around the story had a twist, because the boys who pull on the noxious green shirts of Broughton every Sunday were not about to be humiliated. They know they're rubbish, but they just don't care. They keep playing for no other reason than that - and this is quite a radical concept in the modern footballing world - they think it's fun.
"We go out and enjoy ourselves," one of them said from behind a shy grin. "It's not that bad because the result doesn't really count. They just tread over us, they get past us, they pass it while we're busy standing there or sitting down or whatever. Before you can say goal, it's a goal." And you can say "goal" a lot of times in the space of 70 minutes.
Fortunately, the Broughton B manager is not one of the psycho dad breed who leaves so many junior players with mental scars for life. "People say to me, do you get very depressed seeing your boys beaten week in, week out," he said, "but the answer's no. The boys enjoy it, they're getting a game of football and they're belonging to a club. They're getting a lot out of it."
Well, well. Football for its own sake. If David Dein or Ken Bates were watching, they were probably munching the rug.
There was a dispatch from the game's nether regions over on Channel 5, too, although Peterborough United FC are a couple of divisions ahead of Broughton B. Young, Hot And Talented sounds like the sort of tacky C5 offering to which the watchdogs have recently taken such offence, but instead it followed the progress of two of the Posh's youth team players, Matthew Etherington and Matty Hann.
Etherington made his first-team debut at 15 and is one of the dozen or so British teenagers who have been described as "the next Michael Owen". Hann, on the other hand, had not even made it to the reserves (although by the end of the programme, the manager, Barry Fry, had offered him a five-year contract.)
The resulting film was no more revealing than you would expect, with each dewy-eyed youngster talking longingly about his future in football. There were a couple of informative moments, however, even if they seemed to arrive almost by accident, and passed without comment.
The first was the discovery that Etherington - a 17-year-old, remember, with a Third Division side - has "been media-trained by the club and a top agent". The second was the team talk given to the youth side, most of whom are under 16, before an important match against Preston.
"What I'm asking you to do this afternoon while you're resting," their coach told them, "is to imagine and picture yourself scoring a goal. I want you to imagine that we crush them, that we not only beat them, we beat them by crushing them and mullering them in every single department."
If one of his players had gone out and injured someone, the coach could easily have been had up for incitement. As it turned out, though, the psychology didn't work. From 2-0 up at half-time, Posh Youth slumped to 4-2 down at the final whistle. Perhaps he should have taken a tip from the manager of Broughton B Under-13s, and simply told them to go out there and enjoy themselves.Reuse content