Grace Dent: My latest top 10 World Cup moments

Featuring Coleen’s luggage, that Ghanaian goal celebration, and the force of nature that is Karim Benzema...

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The Independent Online

1. In case you’re unaware – perhaps you’re one of those “We don’t have a telly, Jocasta plays the lute and I make macrame furniture” ilk of person – England crashed out of the World Cup a trifling eight days into the tournament.

The Three Lions roar is officially on mute, the nation’s heart as heavy as Coleen Rooney’s walk-on luggage. Once more I am quietly grateful for the decision to be “supportive, patriotic yet not heavily bothered either way” by England’s success.

2. Unlike Coleen, whose passion for football led her to fly to Brazil – armed with 15 cases – six days ago. But then I’d leave the country now that Wayne’s former “chum” Helen Wood has now been locked up in Channel 5’s Big Brother house for 20 days and she’s getting bored and chatty. “I never thought this conversation would ever come up here,” said Helen, who brought the topic up and continued with it for the next 20 minutes.

3. So what went wrong with England’s grand plan? Was it that a team was dispatched so youthful that Daniel Sturridge’s “Look we’re on a bus!” Twit pic resembled publicity shots from The Inbetweeners Movie where Jay, Neil and the clunge-magnets hit Malia?

Could Joe Hart ever be trusted, knowing that here is a man who appears in Head and Shoulders commercials with a dye job so appalling that large distracting lumps of flaking scalp matter would be preferable? So many questions, so little clarity.

4. Of course some pundits – proper ones, not just annoying women with access to a keyboard – suggest that “our lads” were simply no match for recently injured Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez. Essentially, millions of pounds and thousands of manpower hours were frittered away to create a team who couldn’t deter a man who was in a wheelchair one month ago. England’s greatest foil was a bloke most probably entitled to claim disability living allowance in the Merseyside district.

5. But it’s hard to be sniffy about an England defeat when the players are all so very very sorry. “I am hurting. I am broken,” Steven Gerrard said. Gerrard had the wretched heart-shattered air of a man who’d found out that the love of his life was shagging the neighbour and who was living out of bin bags on his mother’s sofa. But not to worry as Gerrard’s off on holiday and he always posts a lot of “Oiled up in Ibiza, I’m off to Pacha in me short-shorts, tops-off, oi oi!” holiday snaps. So even if he’s unhappy, I’ll soldier on, privately.


6. And for other teams, it’s all smiles. Ghana were having a right old laugh during their game against Germany, with Asamoah Gyan scoring in the 63rd minute then being joined by team-mates for an endlessly re-watchable group dance. In fact, not actually a dance, as such, more a rhythmic swagger with the occasional foot kick. Like a horizontal version of “The Locomotion”. Pure joy.

Of course, Twitter was ablaze with happiness at Ghana’s glee, for about 35 seconds, until Twitter users began pointing out that praising people from Ghana for being happy was actually, if you think about it, totally racist. This rumbled on until Stan Collymore tweeted his support for Ghana’s “Black Stars”, which other people misunderstood as a racially specific team nickname which led to everyone arguing more, and by the time the arguing was finished, the match was over. 2-2.

7. And with England’s glory thwarted, now is the time for part-time football fans and full-time fun fans to throw their support behind teams who can actually win. Do you have a distant Dutch relative? Can you roughly find Chile on the map? Can you hold joy and goodwill in your heart for the Argentinian team, despite them showing up to their warm-up match against Slovenia carrying a four- metre long banner reading Las Malvinas Son Argentinas? All of these teams are doing brilliantly. Simply choose one and begin glory-hunting.

8. Personally I am supporting France, not wholly because Karim Benzema is a force of nature while perspiring in shorts, and not because the battle-cry “Allez Les Bleus!” slips off one’s tongue perfectly in a raffish Antoine de Caunes Eurotrash manner, but chiefly as France is only 22 miles from England by boat and they’re bloody better than our team and if this isn’t the time for les rosbifs to show entente cordial to our Gallic neighbours then I don’t know when is.

9. Meanwhile in football-based gender-wars news, Mexican pundits Mariana Gonzalez and Ines Sainz have caused several men to reassess their views on women talking about football. It helps that Gonzales and Sainz are both dreamlike, saucer-eyed, large-breasted, long-haired soaraway stunners.

They’re the sort of women who pitch up beside your sunbed on holiday causing you to drink heavily from 10am while pondering whether to drown oneself in the pool. “This is Mexico’s answer to Adrian Chiles. WTF?” shouted the men of Twitter incredulously, which is unfair as Chiles would actually look smashing – if permitted – anchoring things in a pastel-shade spaghetti strap mini-dress and smokey eye-kohl.

10. Still, to many people the World Cup is simply an incovenience. Eastenders fans are currently forced to chase their show around the schedule, while episodes feature last-minute football-based bolted-on scenes  to keep things “current”. I suspect this last two weeks in Eastenders have been purposefully low-key as audiences might be elsewhere. Five episodes last week were devoted to Sharon Rickman having her spleen removed. If the hospital were going to anaesthetise her, then remove and incinerate anything that should have started with her entire rock’n’roll biker chic wardrobe.