I’ve followed the recent English sporting events with as much enthusiasm as the average tabloid reader, and shouted at the telly with the best native accent I can muster. But as the England football team said a near-goodbye to Euro 2008, and the Rugby team lost in the final, and Hamilton (fuel tests pending) lost his record-breaking F1 Championship bid, I drew some smug joy from an encounter last week – with the editor of a weekly publication I work for.
Before this weekend’s disappointments I was doing a cartoon about the teaching of Britishness in schools, and thought it’d be funny to give it a sporting twist – using this nation’s self-deprecating attitude to their sporting achievements.
But no, I was told, that was a thing of the past. An out-dated notion. Long gone, replaced by the winning mentality.
Well, maybe so, there was the Ashes after all…in 2005, and of course the Rugby – in 2003. And given that the World Cup win in 1966 still is celebrated with some personal pride even by people who weren’t born at the time, there’s no reason why events in 2003 and 2005 won’t last a long time too.
Events of the last few days however, might at least go some way in getting the country back to its more recognizable self.
To the “oh, why do we bother” attitude from those who’d dressed themselves in proud patriotism at the prospect of British success in a sport they until then hadn’t cared for all that much.
And the “That guy doesn’t know his arse from his elbow”-analysis from the more avid followers. The kind that makes every British bloke a better manager than the guy in charge. Or a better player. Or referee.
“We were playing really well in the first half…”
“…but then they fell apart in the second.”
“We was robbed.”
The ferocious build-up followed by anticipation, disappointment and dissection.
You are champions at that.
Jim White in the Telegraph puts it better than me.
In Britain, we don’t win sporting things. That’s a fact. Others might call us arrogant, but you wonder where they get that idea: falling at the last is our usual finishing spot, so near but so far our sporting motto.
This Matt Pritchett cartoon is funny.