Published On: Wed, Jun 27th, 2012

Extra Ale & Scratchings

Football is a funny old game as they say. And as the rather watchable Euro 2012 rumbles on with Roy’s England attempts at restoring pride to dear old Blighty, and the Germans (surely the Manchester United of the national teams) consistently reaching the latter stages of the tournament, passions are still running high.

Spain has also delighted with its mint, lime and tangerine flavoured tic tacs. Apologies, we mean ‘tika tak’a of course.

So try telling the many balling Spanish fans left blubbing into their Paellas, the sobbing England fans left crying into their pints, the overdramatic Italians left blubbering into their minestrone that this is just a funny old sport. Days, weekends, summers and seasons can be ruined by the result of this noble and ignoble game.
Oh! The thrills and spills of being an England fan. Even our lady kin get stirred into appreciation of a game they have no interest in at any other time in the footballing calendar. Although it must also be said, after a few glasses of vino tinto, that the passion and patriotism can lead to profanities that would make a docker blush – especially the improper songs about the referee, in front of the kids.
Major football tournaments invariably offer another delightful chapter in the fabled story of Sepp Blatter. This year is no different and the always-one-step-ahead-of-the-game Blatter is at it again. Goal line technology he says! The man is a thought leader of our times. It’s almost as though he can think of things before us mere mortals have even dreamt of them.
So as swathes of goalpost manufacturers go to Wimbledon to try and steal the magic ingredient behind Hawk-Eye, we settled down on the chesterfield to see what other innovations we could lift from other sports to make the beautiful game slightly more appealing.
First up has to be cheerleaders. Ah yes, our American cousins have got one thing right at least. There can be absolutely no argument against cheerleaders.
And let’s stay on that side of the Atlantic for a moment more, where we should perhaps consider taking a leaf out of the National Hockey League’s book and introduce a sin bin. We would hate to step on tradition and see this affect the iconic yellow and red cards though, so our sin bin would not be for bad behaviour. Ours would be for punishing bad haircuts or the most obscene of those frankly nauseating (and ubiquitous) footballer tattoos.
Raul Meireles would spend most of the game in the sin bin on both counts.
Then we would have the diving-style score panel for unnecessary theatrics. A five-person panel would sit at a desk on the touchline observing the antics, and whenever a player falls dramatically clutching his face (after being lightly grazed on the stomach); the panel can lift their cards and give a score out of 10. An average of eight or over for any transgression leads to an immediate yellow card.
Finally, there could be a pit lane. We call for the abolishment of half time and instead players can refuel, receive tactical instructions from the gaffer and have a quick rub with the magic sponge in the pit lane.
As managers sweat over when to strategically call players in from the field, it would also be the perfect place for Mario Balotelli to go and have a sulk. Or let off fireworks.
As for now, it’s time to get back and watch the rest of Euro 2012 with a cold, crisp beer and vuvuzela in hand. Then it’s time for Wimbledon and we are starting to wonder how they are going to play every single game of the tournament in their allotted time, all on one court under the roof. Unless of course the wettest drought in history decides to behave itself.


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