England v Kazakhstan isn’t exactly a glamour fixture, even when it’s a World Cup qualifier. But watching England is watching England. An excuse for a good day out, especially now that my BEM (Best England Mate) and I have a standard plan of attack for the day. Smiths of Smithfield for a few beers and food, tube straight to the ground. Make our way home via the Wetherspoons in Wembley, then another stop somewhere en route back to SW London. Often a slow tube journey is rounded off with a desperate sprint to the loos at Wimbledon, then finally a shared cab to see us safely back with other halves.
For the Kazakhstan game, Smiths had been it’s usual fine host, only upset by our own stupid selves and that decision to have one more beer “for the tube”. Just missing a train at Farringdon didn’t help and we finally rolled into the ground 10 minutes after the game started. No matter, we hadn’t missed any of the avalanche of goals that England were bound to score had we? Well no we hadn’t and we had to wait until the 52nd minute for the first goal. But England hadn’t played too badly and without being ecstatic, the crowd had seemed quite content once we’d gone ahead. Although the performance hadn’t been good enough for the 2 “fans” who’d been sitting next to me. It was clear as soon as we’d (belatedly) arrived that they were already in full flow, mixing a combination of bile (“Fat Frank” being the prime target), with sub orgasmic joy every time Stevie Me went near the ball. Turns out Dumb (or it could have been Dumber) had money on Stevie to score the first goal and this seemed his number one concern. So with half time approaching off they popped off for what I assumed was a toilet break, but never to return. Shame.
As it turns out, Dumb & Dumber had only been the under card for the show that was to unfold in the second half. So back to the football and England are 1-0 up and starting to look better. Out of nowhere, under no pressure, Ashley Cole made that back pass and the Kazahks are back in the game. Their fans are rightly going a bit radio and a few big and clever England fans are giving them some stick. Bit pathetic really. After extracting my head from my hands, you could feel that (understandably) the crowd were not too happy about this turn of events. But even I, who’s seen Phil Neville & David Bentley booed recently for England, didn’t see what would happen next.
Pantomime season starts in October these days, it would seem. Every touch for Cole was now booed and England’s performance was taking a turn for the worse. Kazakhstan could have nicked another goal and you could see it all turning to shit for England. And whatever anyone says, the booing was not helping. It wasn’t helping the team & it most certainly wasn’t helping my mood. Booing your own player during a game is just stupid. Moronic, self indulgent and just wrong. It wasn’t even a large minority doing the booing, but enough for anyone at the game to hear it and understand what was going on. But at least there were plenty of people around us who seemed as agitated about the booing as BEM & I, and the booing started to be countered by pro-active cheering for Cole. By this time, the team had got over it’s wobble and the goals started to come, 4 more in total. 5-1 in the end and a perfectly acceptable result. But the game will forever be remembered, by me anyway, as the one were an England player was booed for making a mistake. A genuine, old fashioned, cock up. Expect boos for every missed shot, poor pass or mistimed tackle from now on then. X Factor meets International Football in the new show in town – Strictly X Academy World Cup 2010. Player substitutions decided by the boo-ometer and text vote combinations, with Lineker & Hanson on hand to give their expert judgment. That seems to be the way football is heading, everyone is an expert and everyone believes they have the right to express that expert opinion in any way they see fit. Well sorry, football (or any other sport) doesn’t work like that if you are professing to support a team. Support the team, moan & groan (lord knows I do), get stuck into the team and/or players down the pub as much as you like. But at the match, during the game get behind the team. And you chaps who sought to justify the booing (well done BEM for the emails) in the days after the match, shame on you. The tired old line of “they paid their money so they can say/do what they like” just doesn’t wash. I pay my money but absolutely do not expect to be able do or say whatever I want. There are obvious things like not being racist but I would also include showing respect to opposition fans (take note the twonk who was trying to wind up some oppo fans in the queue for the tube) and, um radically, supporting your team even if they do make the odd mistake. And finally, to the guy that tried to tell me that the booing was a statement from some fans about the state of modern football, Eh? Excuse me? England fans making a political stand through the power of booing? Of course, silly me, booing is a force for good – let’s get on the booing bandwagon now!