The Absolute Game – Semi-Revisited

December 10, 2010

I find that I still have quite a few of my old TAG articles which haven’t yet appeared here, though we have long since been scraping the bottom of the barrel.

One which I came across was my review of the European Championships of 1996 in TAG 49 – you will remember that best as ‘Euro ’96′ and you will remember it because England were the hosts, and you will remember it because we played them at Wembley and Gary McAllister missed a penalty, and almost immediately Gazza scored the greatest goal in the history of the world an’ an’ an’…….stop, stop,stop – and you’ll never forget Baddiel and Skinner and ‘football’s coming home’, and El Tel, and England going to go all the way and losing to Germany on penalties in the semi, and so on and on…..

I’m a bit ashamed to say that I don’t want to re-print the entire article here, primarily because some of my remarks about our defeat to England are intemperate and not suitable for a 21st century audience. So, I’ll just reprint a few highlights after this fantastic Mad Mac caption, which was very possibly the funniest visual gag ever to appear in TAG

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Our defeat to England was on 15 June.

My review began –

Shortly before 5pm on 15th June my television set went on the blink. The repair man spotted the disorder straight away. Apparently the problem was the baseball bat lodged in the middle of the screen.

……….Kevin Keegan remarking on the difficulties for the referee communicating with the Swiss players, “He’ll need to speak 4 languages – German, French, eh, eh” – Kev’s knowledge of European languages ran out at that point.

…………..John Motson was first up with the biennial “I mentioned the war once but i think I got away with it” reference when he described the Germans and the Czechs as ‘old adversaries in many ways‘.

…………..For addlebrained confusion in its purest form, however, Jack Charlton, as always, had no serious rival. Jack’s assessment of the Portuguese team was a masterpiece of ‘lights on, no-one at home’ befuddlement. In a matter of seconds he had elevated pig-ignorance onto a supernatural plane by referring to “the lad Costa, whassisname, Sam, is it Sam, or the other lad, Pinto, you know the little lad Joe Pinto, yeah, and the other little coloured lad Costa something, Costa Pinto is it, Pinto Milko something like that, Rudi Pinto is it, I really fancy England to win the coop“

……Things got so bad during the Turkey-Croatia game that Brian Moore spotted the referee booking ‘Tolunay of Greece’, which was news to the Greeks as they hadn’t even qualified for the competition.

….In Germany v Russia Alan Parry said that the game was in ‘a soporific state’. Ron Atkinson, laid-back as ever and a bit soporific himself, replied “If I knew what that meant then I’d possibly agree with you. You know, in all honesty, that big lad at the back is just a fanny merchant“

Finally, I want to quote my exact words on 15 June. My wife asked whether the half-time English substitute was any good. With my usual deep insight and thorough understanding of the modern game I replied, “Redknapp? He is a total fanny. Not good enough for this game. He won’t get a sniff. Trust me.“

P.S Approximately 4 minutes later a terrific overlapping thrust and cross by Redknapp set up England’s opening goal.


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