Proud Britons remain quietly confident of noble defeat
“Two world wars and one world cup” is a popular refrain from the terraces when England play Germany at football (aka soccer). Offensive as it may be to some, the chant has been around pretty much since England’s World Cup final win over the then West Germany in 1966 and is “popular with the Neanderthal branch of the Ingerland Supporters’ Club, to be sung at Johnny Foreigner once the Channel has been safely negotiated,” according to one fan website.
The victory at Wembley was an aberration and not to be repeated. We die-hard English sports fans of the post-war era (that’s post 1966) fully understand this fact. We’re also aware that the 2005 Ashes series victory, pleasant enough entertainment but clearly an unscripted entry into the English sporting history books, would never occur again in our lifetime.
So it is with some trepidation and a sense of dismay that we watch Freddie Flintoff and the chaps once again threaten our calm state of underachieving equilibrium.
It is the art of losing gallantly, finishing an honorable second, doing one’s best but falling at the last hurdle that is the English way. No-one, particularly Australia, has the right to take this from us.
This vital safety mechanism allows the English to mentally prepare for the inevitable disappointment of serial defeat and unfulfilled expectations.
So in an attempt to bring a little understanding to the current Ashes series, here are the five key ingredients that make up the core English belief that second best is actually better than winning.
1. The Underdog. There’s no point in winning if you blitz the opposition. Who’d want Alberto Contador or Lance Armstrong on their team when you can have Cadel Evans – an honorary Pom if ever there was one. Try your best, good show, stiff upper lip, that’s the way etc etc. Watch out for England’s Bradley Wiggins in this year’s Tour de France; he’s showing all the signs of just missing out in a most spirited fashion. Go Wiggers: give me the gutsy podium finish over a yellow jersey every time.
2. False Hope. Just to maintain interest, it’s important to display a winning ability from time to time, but vital to disappoint when it comes to The Big One. Here we have a long line of achievers. We particularly celebrate tennis nearly-men Tim Henman and Andy Murray (yes, we know he’s a Scot) and football pretty boy David Beckham.
3. Cock-up When It Counts. There is nothing quite like the odour of defeat that comes courtesy of a moment of stupidity or madness. Here again, we cite David Beckham, whose quintessential brain-snap resulted in him being sent off in the 1998 World Cup game against Argentina. It cost England the win, put us out of the competition and in our rightful place . . . that of credible, gutsy, losing participant.
4. Sense of Humour. To be maintained at all times. “Football is a game played by 22 players. And then Germany win,” former England striker Gary Lineker once said. For football, substitute cricket, for Germany, substitute Australia. Then all is right with the world.
5. Dark Cloud of Pessimism. An important state of mind once the glimmer of hope appears. This descends immediately after an unexpected victory, such as the win at Lord’s. The Dark Cloud manifests itself in pubs, offices, factories and living rooms across the nation, leading to confident predictions that England will indeed lose the Ashes series 2-1.
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@mooks83 sophisticated response. Think the kids parents saw it differently
More class from 9's footy show, lampooning a baby that allegedly looks like Sterlo with a pic swiped from Facebook http://t.co/BGoYP6Pn68
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