“The thing about football is that it is not just about football.”
As you all probably know, the Olympics are well under way in the great city of London.
So, I decided I would watch some over my breakfast (tea and toast and Marmite, obviously – the superfood trio). So I went to BBC1, where they were twittering. It transpired that nothing was on, or, at least, nothing was being filmed, so the presenters had apparently decided to talk about swimming and rowing rather than showing any sports.
Since I was not interested in watching reruns of Famous (and probably Not-to-be-Repeated) Victories, I switched to BBC3 instead, where they were showing badminton, which is a good deal more interesting. The British Mixed Doubles team, consisting of Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier, were playing the Germans: Birgit Michel and the unfortunately named Michael Fuchs.
There I was, watching the second set. And as the Germans won point after point, I sat there thinking: we British are really not very good at sport, are we?
Think about it. We’ve just lost the badminton. The last time we won the football World Cup was in 1966, and we’re still going on about it. This year, in the Euro 2012, we at least got to the quarter-finals.
And then we lost. Despite the efforts of the lovely Joe Hart in goal, we did not score once. But then, neither did Italy.
And you know what? For about ninety minutes, I really did think we could win. I dismissed the negativity of Hiking Friend and Hiking Friend’s parents as cynicism, I cheered every saved goal and sat in happy confidence, waiting for one of our people to score. (I should make it clear that I am not a football fan. But the combined efforts of Hiking Friend and Joe Hart appear to have made me one. At least for England games.)
But we did not score. Not one single measly goal. And we lost on penalties. Hiking Friend, sadly, turned out to be right.
So why do we call ourselves the Home of Football when we can’t even score against Italy, who were all over the place and fouling like crazy?
And then there is Tim Henman, who has been trying for years to win Wimbledon and has never managed it.
And Andy Murray, who, my mother assures me, is very inconsistent in his play, and who recently lost badly to Federer.
This is why I do not watch sport. Because we are rubbish at it. So it is just as well that we are so brilliant at pageantry. Because the Opening Ceremony is the only thing we can excel at in these Olympics.