The Wonderful Self-Loathing of the English Fan (Updated)

I feel bad for the English soccer/"football" team, but their travails are worth it for the response they evoke in the UK press. We have a nice, wry local sample here in Clive Crook's column. But for an extended specimen, see Scott Murray of the Guardian with his real-time blog of the 4-1 rout by the Germans. Remember that he is describing his country's team:

67 min: THIS COULD BE IT FOR ENGLAND. Germany 3-1 England. The ball having bounced off the wall, four German players stream upfield, no red shirts bothering to chase back and help. Down the inside left, Schweinsteiger rolls the ball wide right to Muller on the right-hand edge of the England box. James gets a hand to the shot, but it was hit hard as you like and flies into the bottom-right corner....

70 min: THIS IS SO EASY NOW. Germany 4-1 England. England have a throw in on the edge of Germany's area. They quickly lose the ball, which is walloped up the left wing. Ozil gets there ahead of Barry, and of course - need I bother saying this? - the defence is nowhere to be seen. Ozil makes it all the way to the area, before clipping the ball across to Muller, taking out James. Mulller lifts the ball into the net. It is over...

74 min: As things stand, this will be England's worst-ever World Cup finals defeat...

76 min: England are a pathetic rabble now...

79 min: "Is it true that the England fans at the game are now singing 'It's just like watching North Korea'?" asks Ted Lee. Heh. I have no idea, but to be fair to England's support, they have moved from being rightfully livid at half time to enjoying the gallows humour.

"Pathetic rabble"! You have to acknowledge greatness when you see it. I submit that no other national press culture could really pull off this bleak gallows-humor tone. American accounts of the loss to Ghana yesterday sounded... sad. This is why, despite Clive Crook's suggestion, England must surely play on. (From the Guardian's site, below.)

defeat.png

UPDATE: Howard Weaver has a better example:

When I was at Cambridge in 1992-93 I read this in one of the national papers (probably the Guardian) and have saved it ever since:

"The England cricket team - failing, morally shifty, globally insignificant, distracted by irrelevant attention to demeanor, run by discredited leaders insolently continuing in office - may not be a credit to the nation, but is a perfect reflection of it."
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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