Monday, 27 June 2016

England went to Iceland and got more than they bargained for

ENGLAND’s defeat to Iceland meant an early, and deserved, departure from the European Championships.

To pretend this has been a good tournament for our national side both on and off the pitch would be like telling yourself England will win a trophy in the next decade.

Whereas Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have provided many memories and created a real buzz off the field with their friendly behaviour, England have bored their way through the tournament with a small minority causing chaos.

The thing is, as England fans, we have watched this boxset before. Again we have exited  a tournament early, again the manager has gone leaving English football in ‘crisis’.

But what really annoys me is the empty platitudes from the players. All we heard was how ‘gutted’ they were etc. The thing is we hear this every tournament now, we qualify then fail on the big stage.

I backed Hodgson hugely, the only man for the job after Capello left. I backed him until ¾ of the way through the Russia game when he removed Wayne Rooney when we were 1-0 up against a tired Russian team whose centre half was on a yellow card. He protected a lead when all logic dictated pushing on for a second goal.

His selections were always open to question, picking Jack Wilshere for the tournament despite him only being fit since April was baffling.

But forget the errors, forget the individuals. Quite simply England lost last night because Iceland wanted it more. And there is the rub, all of the England squad have huge contracts and have ‘made it’ with their clubs. Many in the Icelandic side have grafted and battled to earn a playing deal outside their homeland and are showing that effort as a team in this tournament.

What now? The same old, same old, we are in crisis, we will appoint a new manager, there will be a new dawn and then inevitably failure either at the 2018 World Cup or 2020 Euros.  

I’m 34 and apart from Italia 90 and Euro 96 I have only known failure as an England fan, usually on penalties, as I write I can’t honestly say I am willing to continue to support the team.

I wonder how many more like me feel the same today?

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Why I'll be voting Remain

WHEN I vote tomorrow, it will be to remain part of the European Union. Firstly I totally accept it's not perfect, it needs real reform and some of the more bonkers ideas need trashing straight away.

But equally, the United Kingdom is just a small island floating in the Atlantic Ocean. Forget this delusion of empire, without the EU we are just what we appear on any globe. A small island.

This campaign has been truly vile, in what our politicians have stooped to to get our votes and the colour it has brought out in some people who simply haven't listened to the 'other side' of the argument.

While the Prime Minister's stupid comments on World War Three were beyond reproach, I'm also not amused by the Leave trio of Boris Johnson - a man who was extolling the virtues of the European Union just months before changing his position, Michael Gove – a man who single-handedly annoyed every teacher when he was Education Secretary and Iain Duncan Smith – who presided over cuts and the attempted to distance himself from it.

believe if we stay we can build a better future for us all, keeping trade high and yes tackling immigration. Remember this works both ways, how many ex-pats are living in the EU now using a country's healthcare system with many not contributing to the GDP of that country?

Immigration is not a dirty word, it's happened for years, it's not a new problem. Should we leave the EU, how will we stop people coming to our country? We are an island with no borders unlike many of our friends in Europe, if you think its uncontrolled now then I have news for you, it's going to be even harder to police should we leave!

The Tories have been working hard to ensure our doors are open but for those who want to work, not sponge off the state. And that goes to the nub of the argument for me, it's so easy to look at Johnny Foreigner coming here to 'sponge off the state' but what about British kids who leave school with no qualifications and go straight to the benefits office?

Doesn't happen? Go and walk past a job centre in your town, all the voices you hear won't just be foreign.

Those pushing the immigration line simply want to ignore the problems we have in this country, where benefits have become a salaried way of life for some young Britons, some of whom won't even contemplate working for a living.

The possibility of Turkey joining the EU is a long way off and besides, EVERY country in the EU can veto any accession so it's far from a done deal. Britain will not have to join the Euro, by staying in we can constantly hold the fear of leaving over Merkel et al should they force us to scrap the pound.

A European Army? Seems daft and not sure the rest of the EU will go for it, particularly the French who traditionally stay out of any conflict but would be looked upon to provide some of the manpower. And besides, none of us ever worried when British soldiers were called upon by the UN did we?

"We can make this country great again!” – apart from the general annoyance that something from the Donald Trump playbook has been used, when haven't we been Great?

We have wonderful countryside, we have a rich history which pulls in millions of tourists every year, we do make things (albeit not as much as we used to), we are tolerant, we embrace white, black, brown, straight, gay, lesbian or transgender. We aren't afraid to speak our mind, to be there for each other, to come together in celebration or in suffering.

We live in a time where the nation has many problems – from the threats posed by global terrorism, a wonky economy and a disenfranchised electorate to planning problems and the need for more housing.

At this time we ought to be tethered to our friends rather than cast off into the unknown. Because for me that is what a Leave vote would represent.

All I ask is this, on Friday can we PLEASE go back to normal!!!!!!