It’s a game of two halves

The atmosphere’s been subdued at my local recently. It often goes a bit quiet when the sun’s out and people fire-up their barbecues or head to the coast, but with so much sport going on, it should have been buzzing.

The early morning kick-offs for the rugby tests against the All Blacks didn’t help – nor did England getting beaten, however narrowly, three games to nil. The cricketers losing to Sri Lanka – on the penultimate ball of the series – didn’t help either.

But it was the three lions’ abject display at the football World Cup that really put a dampener on things. Having been knocked out of the tournament within a week, after just two win-less games, the team’s final goalless – and indeed pointless – match against Costa Rica was watched by barely two men and a dog. The St George’s cross bunting festooned around the bar could hardly come down soon enough.

I’ll miss the football though – not the ritual national humiliation, but the pundits’ comments. Over the years they’ve had me and other pub regulars in stitches with their Colmanballs-style gaffes, and now, thanks to the internet, nobody need ever forget the likes of Tony Pulis’s: “If we’d have scored, it would have been a different result.” Or Chris Waddle’s: “That was a great finish, but you could say it wasn’t a great finish, because it didn’t go in.”

Alex McLeish once hit the nail squarely on the head with: “The more you lose, the more you don’t win.”

The pundits also love a metaphor, and Nigel Worthington could mix them with the best, as he proved with: “Neither team’s really taken the baton by the scruff of the neck and put their stamp on it.”

But for me, his thoughts on a past England star really took the biscuit: “When David Beckham leaves the game, it will take a very special player to come in and carry the mantelpiece.”

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