Best of British?

The Red Arrows just did a display as part of the Portishead carnival; the same weekend as the English football team played in their usual underwhelming manner in Poland in the group phase of the Euros. The difference is incredible.

On the one hand, the Red Arrows don’t sniff at what is a very minor provincial carnival; they turn up precisely on time, perform impressively with the execution of some frankly dangerous manoeuvres, they have excellent teamwork, cooperation and communication, their display is exhilarating, astounding and exciting, and what’s more they are a symbol of Britishness that can’t help but make you proud. But it seems it’s a kind of old-fashioned Britishness, you know, when we had a work ethic, when we were honourable and considerate, faithful and dedicated to the right values.

On the other hand, there’s the English football team. They get paid so much they don’t care about the game at all, it’s all about winning (or in England’s case, not losing). They get paid silly money for what doesn’t constitute a job because playing football isn’t technically work, it’s playing a game. They come out with rubbish like ‘I’m not enjoying my football so much,’ – which is a bit annoying to those of us who do have proper jobs and can’t even dream of earning in 5 years what they earn in a week. This has bugged me for a while (can you tell?!) but the stark contrast was obvious this weekend. And watching England’s lethargy and lack of dedication on the pitch made me try to imagine what it would be like if footballers weren’t ‘professionals’ and if we could go back to the old system where people played football for the pure love of it. The England team would be made up of plumbers, brickies, barmen, maybe a dentist (then again, maybe not) – wouldn’t that be fantastic? After all the fans’ dedication to the game and to their country has stayed the same; wouldn’t it be good if each nation’s citizens could get behind a team that they felt at one with, and keen to support, instead of a group of overpaid hirelings who would probably be better people if they knew what hard work and a proper job was?

Rant over. Feel better now. Normal service resumes.

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