Lord Nelson! Lord Beaverbrook! Sir Winston Churchill! Sir Anthony Eden! Clement Attlee! Henry Cooper! Lady Diana! Maggie Thatcher – can you hear me, Maggie Thatcher! Your boys took one hell of a beating! Your boys took one hell of a beating!
Mr Lillelien’s commentary of the 1981 World Cup qualifier between Norway and England has come down in folklore as “the high watermark of football commentary as social commentary. Passionate, uninhibited and a bit weird, football fans everywhere from Scotland to Argentina knew exactly what he was saying: that there is no pleasure as sweet as beating England at their own game.”
England, as I’m sure you’ve heard with a snigger or a sigh, will not advance to the quarter-finals of the Cricket World Cup, having been beaten by Bangladesh by 15 runs in Adelaide last night.
It was a shockingly predictable outcome. A chase of 275 is bread and butter in today’s game, but still they managed to drop it on the floor, butter-side down.
Predictable, because the English commentariat have been predicting it from last year. Not just the usual English downbeat predictions of rain in the summer, but the surgical precision of pointing out the follies of selections and styles and coaching and management.
The shocking part is how the players have been let down by an administration that imagined victory from the leather couches in their London clubs. It’s a throw back to the worst of the Empire days, when you’d send an ill-prepared army off to teach the fuzzy-wuzzies a lesson and several months later receive the telegram of their massacre. File it forgotten, and have another pink gin.