“It was the best of times and the worst of times…
With three hours sleep after the Ghana USA game we headed off for the 5 hours to Bloemfontein. Arriving at the Waterfront bars near the stadium there was already a riot, well a riot of noise and colour.
The English fans had taken up residence down by the lakeside and had hung out their flags and were cranking up the volume on “10 German Bombers”. There were English knights in chain mail, Capello-a-likes and two people dressed up as The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh who waved at the crowd below from a balcony and were serenaded with the national anthem.
And by some sort of good-natured miracle the Germans were lapping it all up. They were in the middle of it, videoing, taking photos, talking excitedly to TV crews and generally laughing at the English and their inflatable Spitfires. We forget how similar we are, we’re all Anglo-Saxons really, we both love beer, singing, dressing up and big football matches.
And in a nice touch both sides really enjoyed the chant of “stand up if you hate the French”.
We made our way to the ground and once inside found that there was utterly no segregation between the fans, this was either going to be a liassez-faire master-stroke or a bloodbath. And then the football started.
The general pattern of the game was that England would have possession and mistake patient build up, for slow, ponderous passing allowing the Germans to regroup. They would wait for us to lose the ball then attack with verve, pace and precision and then score.
They scored twice despite England bossing the first half, then we had Upson’s header and then the goal that never was.
Take a look at our position.
We literally had the best view in the world of the incident and we all knew it was over by a mile. We got to half time indignant and hoping the next 45 would see justice prevail.
Well it did, sort of. Germany were just much, much better at football. Their pass and move was up against our own version: pass and stand. Until you’re up close and can see the whole pitch you can’t see how utterly static our players are waiting for the ball to come their way.
England had lost 4-0 to the Germans in the final of the European under-21 championships the summer before. Neuer the goalie, Boateng, Khedira, Ozil and Man of the Match Muller were all in that team and had been moved up to the full side to bring verve, pace and goals to the team. We had drafted in Milner from our side. After the game we shook the hands of the Germans near us and wished them luck. Everyone who was left applauded the German team as they came over while the Germans sang “Football’s coming home”.
I think being utterly humiliated helped the mood, there was no way an Englishman could complain about the result. We just had to slope off into the night and wonder if we’d ever win the World Cup in our life time.
Personally I don’t blame the players, they didn’t know what to do to change things. They looked trapped and bewildered, they were putting the effort in and it just wasn’t working. I don’t blame Capello either. Everywhere he’s been he’s been successful, if he can’t make it work no-one can.
It’s boring and clichéd but I blame the system. The Gemans have one and it produces an exciting, entertaining, young team of promise, we don’t have one and produce an old, unexciting, boring team that promises and never delivers. The last World Cup game we were really good in was v Argentina in 2002.
We watched the game with a coach from Arsenal’s youth set up. We need a team of Wenger coached English players with verve, tactical awareness and technique to start to challenge again. It’s going to be a few years yet he said but they were about to roll off the production line.
On a positive note, and England Germany game without segregation, riot police and a beer ban passed off without an incident. The South African hosts, the lovely weather, the fact England were totally outplayed and the price-tag involved in getting here all contributed. I didn’t even hear a cross word all day. We were actually good losers and many hoped Germany would go on and win.
It really was a memorable day.
One final point – these are the opening comments on Three Lions from 14 years ago. Oh dear…
“I think it’s bad news for the English game” Alan Hansen
“We’re not creative enough; we’re not positive enough” Trevor Brooking
“We’ll go on getting bad results” Jimmy Hill”
Thanks to Icons.com for their take on the infamous England Germany game. I guess this gives us one reason to not watch the World Cup – England are no longer in it. Personally, I was rooting for Denmark, but I don’t think that went very well did it!
Sad, happy or not bothered by the result? Did you even watch the game? Let us know what you thought and where this leaves you now!