A new Korea in a new town (or Klose but no cigar)
By Colin McCabe and Eddie Gough
From Issue 57, Summer 2002
So, another World Cup passes and we await the
next one. Both major terrestrial channels fought
over the spoils and made an excellent job of it.
Almost half as good as Sky Sports would have done.
So there’s an improvement then.
I was one of the sceptics who thought the idea
of an Asian World Cup (using co-hosts for the
first time) would be a farce. I thought it was
a disgrace that we had two Asian countries qualifying
as hosts at the expense of the Europeans again.
I was pissed off that there were FIVE African
nations and FOUR Asian nations and no place for
stalwarts such as Holland, Scotland, Czech Republic
(a stalwart in their former life at least), Norway
and Rumania. And then I thought, well, maybe not
Scotland then as I don’t really care that
they never qualified. And Norway have bored the
shit out of us for the last few tournaments. And
I think they still play Ronny Johnsen and Henning
Berg at the back as well. I’ve never really
cared for Rumania - Gheorgi Hagi, Ceaucescu, Dan
Pet-Rescue and Vlad the Impaler, and all that
lot. The Dutch squad is full of arrogant, pompous
twats who need a good kick up the arse. The cycle
of the Czech team who excelled in Euro 96 has
come to its end. It’s time to rebuild. Apparently
Paddy has retired from international football.
That must have come as a great shock to the Czech
nation as they can hardly have seen him over the
last two years. Or us, for that matter.
I also doubted the wisdom of those responsible
who decided to hold the spectacle at the start
of the rainy season. I returned from holiday in
Thailand just as Senegal were beating France and
I saw at first hand the frenzy of excitement that
holding Asia’s first World Cup generated
there (I also saw that Liverpool car stickers
in Bangkok and Chiang Mai outnumbered Manc Shite
13-6 and shirts outnumbered the Spawn of Satan
by 11-8). Television magnified and multiplied
this in their coverage in Japan and Korea.
I can see the point of the purists when they
speculate that this World Cup didn’t throw
up the great stars, terrific free-kicks and brilliant
skills that we’ve seen in previous tournaments.
But what this tournament did show was that the
gap is closing rapidly, even an average Brazilian
team can win the tournament, complacency regularly
aided favourites towards the exits, loads of surprises,
loads of romance (never seen before in such numbers
in a World Cup) and Ron Atkinson is a twat.
We had the usual silly name competition. Leading
contenders were Joseph Yobo of Nigeria - a career
at Leeds United beckons; Justice Christopher;
Bart Whore of Belgium; Bruce Arena the USA coach;
Agoose an extremely poor American defender who
scored a cracking oggie; Cheeky Arce of Paraguay;
Rusty the Turkish ’keeper; I‘ll Pay
of Villa and Turkey. The winner was Costa Rica
who heralded some very English sounding names
from the heart of Hispanic Central America - players
called Winston, Eric, Ronald and Harold and also
Parks, Bryce, Wallace and Wright (or Wrigth, as
the dyslexic shirt printer put it).
Due to the amount of coverage that was given
to the whole proceedings they were practically
dragging people off the street to go to Asia and
televise reports. That would be the only reason
why some of the panellists, pundits, co-commentators
got plum media jobs, a plane ticket and a licence
to bore. There was a glut of the bastards who
appeared from nowhere and said nothing of interest
- Jamie Redknapp, Trevor Steven, Gary Neville
(I never thought I’d regret him breaking
a bone in his foot), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink,
Peter Schmeichel, Paul Elliott, Efan Ekoku, Ian
Fucking Wright, a very pissed and incoherent Paul
Gascoigne and Juliet Ferrington. It was interesting
to relate that Gascoigne’s reaction to being
suspended from a possible World Cup final in Italia
90 resulted in tears from the big jessie, and
Bollock’s response was to score the goal
that made sure his country got there.
Schmeichel was obviously dragged into the studio
for a ritual humiliation when Denmark got pounded.
But why ask Hasselbaink? His national team-mates
were sunning themselves on a Florida beach. His
struggle with the English language reminded me
of - well, Paul Gascoigne. Elliott was fresh from
his monthly Italian outings on C4. During the
3 or 4 years the programme dominated early Sunday
afternoon, nearly every carthorse who had ever
‘played’ in Italy was hustled into
a London studio and made to sit through yet another
Italian bore-a-thon. When the barrel was scraped
and the dulcet tones of Luther Blissett and Elliott
were to be heard I was so embarrassed. I was so
embarrassed because Rushie couldn’t even
climb the queue over those two tossers. With his
lovely speaking voice, too.
Talking of tossers: Des introduced us to those
responsible for the howling at the front of the
show. The Opera Babes. What we got were two middle
class floozies who were up their own arse. Beating
selective parts of their rabid landed gentry relatives
by a matter of milliseconds, I shouldn’t
The advert breaks were a big thing on ITV. And
some of them were hilarious. Jamie Redknapp getting
alerted at dawn that the football was about to
start and getting injured TWICE. There was one
with a bloke with his three mates on the coach
watching footie ordering Pizza Doritos on his
mobile - to his wife in the kitchen. Another good
one had Brazilian skills aplenty until the ball
was given to woollyback comedian, Peter Kay, whose
warm up consisted of hoofing the ball out the
field into someone’s back garden with the
immortal words “Have it!!!”. With
the legend “No Nonsense” on the screen
he pushes the half-time oranges away to pick up
a can of John Smiths. I’d rather have the
oranges - all in all, a more pleasant way of getting
the shits. Kay was wearing a blue shirt as well
I think. An annoying one with a good ending was
the one with Alan Hansen as a butler cleaning
boots. In fact, Hansen made more appearances than
his last year at Anfield. He was joined on the
adverts by Ashley Cole, Campbell, James, Beckham,
Owen, Heskey (in name at least), Sheringham, Ferdinand,
Totti and Henry.
At the end of the Biggest Show on Earth a few
retirements beckon - Hakan Suker (who had the
energy level of Iain Dowie after a night on the
ale), Ian Wright from any football panel again,
Big Fat Ron from Old Swan from opening his mouth
again, Barry Davies, Gabriel Batistuta, Paolo
Maldini, Cobi Jones, the French defence and Croatia.
Cobi Jones played the dying ten minutes against
the Mexicans – almost literally. He got
fucking battered by Mexico. Remember the Alamo!
Hardened Police Officers have seen mugging victims
that got off lighter than him. I’m sure
Coventry fans would have appreciated him getting
France appeared bereft of ideas throughout their
sojourn. Short as it was. They were already on
their way out when Zidane limped into the fray.
He was still more mobile than the geriatric defence.
The combination of Leboeuf, Petit and Barthez
made a total arse of themselves in their assistance
with the comical Senegalese goal. Dugarry and
Djorkaeff never could hit a bull’s arse
with a spade anyway, and nothing appears to have
I find it amazing that an ageing Croatian outfit
couldn’t find room for Igor Biscan. Or maybe
I don’t. Davor Suker was a lazy bastard
in his prime. At the veteran stage he looks positively
Major disappointments from KoreaJapan were obviously
England, France, Spain and the underdogs consistently
upsetting the apple cart. Argentina were a big
surprise as well. I was so surprised I pissed
myself laughing when they were lobbed out at the
group stages. Juan Season Veron took his club
form to Asia and was dragged off against England
– marked out of the game by Nicky Butt.
The hairstyles and headgear were as bizarre as
usual. Abel Xavier was up there with the best
of them. For the ten minutes he actually played,
anyway. Christian Ziege has displayed some weird
and wonderful hairstyles (well, just weird then)
during his sojourn in England. His current bouffant
is something that purports to be Germany’s
colours but ends up looking uncannily similar
to a badger’s arse. Sensibly, it was shaved
for the latter parts of the festival. The latter
parts when he was stapled to the bench. His haircuts
probably takes the focus off his complexion, because
he looks like he strikes matches on his face.
The German side seemed to feature quite a few
bald heads – I haven’t seen so many
shaved twats since ‘Showgirls’.
Even worse were Umit Davala of Turkey and Clint
Mathis of the States who duplicated the rodent
rectum look. As Ronaldo took the plaudits for
“Best player of the Tournament” from
the media (but not from me), it is fitting that
I should award him “Best haircut of the
Tournament” as his head looked like a baboon’s
arse. If I was an opposing coach I would suggest
that the best way to defend against him was to
stick a disco strobe light in his hotel room.
Niyamoto wore a face mask Zorro would have been
proud of. If his performances hadn’t made
him stand out in the Japanese defence his mask
certainly would. It gave him an aura of authority
and invincibility. That didn’t work for
Gascoigne a decade ago. He looked more like The
Phantom of the Kebab Shop than The Lone Ranger.
A week later Kim Tae Yung of South Korea was wearing
one. I hope this isn’t the start of a new
trend and it becomes a fashion accessory like
Robbie’s nose plaster. Indeed both of those
masks looked like dog muzzles. It would have been
more appropriate had Todo (the other git with
the red stripe through his hair) donned one.
Sod-ya was denied wearing his usual hankie on
his head. Apparently the referee decided he looked
like a middle-aged pigeon fancier from Bolton
on Blackpool beach. In defiance he sported what
appeared to be a silver bogey on his chin.
The Turkish ‘keeper, Rustu, wore black
mascara under his eyes (as opposed to Gascoigne
who spent World Cup month with bags under his
eyes). Presumably he went through that particular
transvestite thing to keep the sun out of his
eyes like Quarter-Backs do. That doesn’t
explain why he daubed it on like an Air Hostess.
When it pissed it down during the Japan tie and
ended up looking like Alice Cooper, though. My
winner from those assorted cross-dressers / bad
dressers / window dressers has to be the Italian,
Cocao who borrowed Ena Sharples’ hairnet
during the Korean debacle.
Emile Heskey was up against a harder opponent
in the English media than anything he faced on
a World Cup field. Who exactly did they want to
replace him with? A 36 year old Teddy Sheringham,
whose mobility was redolent of a three seater
couch on a shagpile carpet – with a dead
elephant on it? They certainly couldn’t
recommend Fowler as they’d only successfully
concluded a three year campaign last winter that
he and Owen couldn’t play together. Even
Stevie Wonder wouldn’t suggest Vassall and
Owen together in the same line-up. That didn’t
stop it happening, though. And of course, Andy
Cole retired from the international scene just
after Sven Goran Eriksson announced the squad.
And not fifteen months earlier, as some unkind
Anybody who thinks this England team will do
better in Germany ’06 had better think again.
Gary Neville (who nobody missed even after Mills’
blunder against the Swedes), Butt, Scholes, Beckham,
Campbell and Sinclair will all be in their 30s.
Sheringham and Seaman will be in their 40s! Do
you really think that Ashley Cole and Mills are
going to last at international level with their
defensive abilities and positional sense?
Michael Owen was anonymous in most of the England
games. But so too was his service. His tally of
two goals, a struck goalpost and a penalty award
was adequate. You did expect more, though. But
England didn’t have many good performances
against Sweden or Brazil.
Hamann had the consistent and unfussy tournament
you would expect. Even the suspension he sustained
was expected. In the Korean semi he thought he
was playing for Liverpool in a European away leg,
he was that good – except he wasn’t
subbed. Dudek, on the other hand, played behind
a defence like a sieve. Although he wasn’t
directly to blame for any of the goals he conceded,
he hardly covered himself in glory. Peter Schmeichel
begged to differ. The protractor and compass came
out to prove that Jerzy had got his angles all
wrong. I noticed that the protractor and compass
were unavailable when Rudolf gifted goals to Jari
Litmanen, Malcolm Christie and Andy Cole last
Xavier missed most of the tournament through
injury but did make a brief appearance. Some of
our ex-players didn’t fare much better -
McAteer played against Cameroon when he wasn’t
fully fit and he was dragged off. He had a whinge
in the papers, apologised and ran around like
a headless chicken against the Saudis for five
minutes. Staunton was solid, got his 100th cap
and bowed out from international football after
the Spanish exit.
Rigobert Song was shaky against the Irish, unimpressive
against Saudi and was pulled all over the place
for the German goals. After Cameroon’s exit
he signed for Patrice Bergues at Lens for £1m.
So, we don’t get the extra few quid off
the Cockney Bastards AGAIN, which would have been
awarded for the “Games Played” bonus.
But the good news is that the shifty spivs lost
£1.5 m on the deal.
Friedel had an impressive month for the USA
(saving two penalties en route) despite allowing
Michael Bollock’s header go straight through
him. Sourness says that he wouldn’t swap
him for anyone else. Yes, Graeme. Friedel is 31
and has only just displaced Kasey Kasem as the
US number one.
Fowler strolled around for a half in the Danish
warm-down. James’ last appearance for England
was in the Cameroon warm-up. They scored from
a free-kick when he hid behind the wall. If he’d
been standing where he should have then the ball
would’ve hit him in the face. Oh, that’d
be why then.
Everton had a minimal impact on the World Cup.
Carsley had five minutes for the Irish. Joe Max
Moore didn’t even have that. Linderoth played
in all of the 4 Swedish games but barely got a
mention. Alexandersson scored from Danny Mills’
great pass, but did little else. Gravesen looked
mean and moody. Along with his sidekick, Tofting,
he looked like a bouncer outside The Wonder Bar.
They were both conspicuous by their absence in
the English rout.
Materazzi turned out in the Croatian game and
was fuckin’ awful. Apparently American Brian
McBride had a trial for David Moyes at Preston,
but they couldn’t afford the fee so he returned
to the States. His constant dismay at the Nationwide
club being permanently poverty stricken will be
good experience for the little shitehawk
Other Premiership “stars” were on
display. Diago Forlan managed something he hadn’t
quite achieved in five months at Old Trafford.
He scored. Quinton Fortune of Manchester United
(as he is now known by commentators) scored a
penalty for a tedious South African outfit.
When a “head to head” came up between
the terrestrial channels, it was no contest. As
soon as I heard the dulcet tones of Tyldsley and
Atkinson that was it. The hunt for the remote
control was on. It’s difficult watching
football with an annoying cunt spouting shite
all over the place. And that’s what Atkinson
The best goal celebrations belonged to the Africans.
Aghawaha (?), the Nigerian who somersaults more
than Nadia Comaneci on coke (that was just a rumour)
and the Senegalese dancing around Papa Betty Boop’s
shirt after the France goal were excellent. The
South Korean attempt at ice skating was childish,
amateurish and shite.
The last time I saw Jose Camacho was when he
dropped a shot on the top of Ray Clemence’s
net in Paris 81. He then spent the rest of the
game kicking lumps out of Graeme Souness. I feel
he needs to be introduced to the new fangled 20th
century concept of deodorant. Either that or wear
a darker shirt.
Two scary lookalikes in the month were Luis Scolari,
the Brazilian coach, who looked uncannily like
Gene Hackman in The French Connection. The other
was the Turkish goalie, Rustu, who was the spitting
image of Ardeth Bey, the Medjai in “The
Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns”.
His kicking was pretty similar as well.
Most of the tournament was spent eulogising
over an average Brazilian team. Particularly the
“Three Arse“. The eventual winners
were probably the worst Brazilian team I’ve
seen since Germany 74 when Pele thought they were
so bad he opted to stay at home.
Roberto Carlos competed with Japan’s Hidekuti
Nakata for the most over-rated player of the month.
Carlos’ defensive deficiencies were exposed
time and time again. It’s been said many
times that John Barnes lived on his Maracana goal
for the rest of his career. Carefully ignoring
three sensational seasons for us (and some decent
ones too). They also tried to say that Michael
Owen was living off his Argentina 98 goal. What
has never been said is that this bastard has lived
off one free-kick that he’s never even come
close to emulating. Does that make it a fluke?
It does until he repeats it. “The boys that
play football to the samba beat” - cue Santana
to be played every single time the Brazilians
were on TV. Some sad bastard negotiated “Abraxas”
and “Moonflower” into my car as well.
Denilson is the greediest Brazilian I have ever
seen. And he’s got a lot of competition.
Especially when Bluenoses thought Red Faced Muller
was coming to Goodison.
Last word about a strange, but always compelling
festival goes to that master of the bleedin’
obvious - John Motson. The final finished with
93 mins 20 secs on the clock. At precisely 92
mins 21 secs, Motty rashly predicted “They’re
not going to beat Markos tonight, I feel”.
There’s nothing like sticking your arse
out of the window and going out on a limb, is
I'm writing this just after the latest English
foray to a major tournament has ground to a halt,
defeat clutched from the hands of victory again.
For the last couple of weeks I've put the cynicism
in me to bed and genuinely tried to support England
and get behind the team - and whilst it lasted
I thoroughly enjoyed it. Funny thing is though,
the Brazil defeat, whilst disappointing, barely
scrapes the surface of the depression felt after,
say, the Leverkusen Euro exit or the defeat at
Spurs which ended the Championship hopes. And
for that I am ever thankful.
The thing is, I think I have now had it confirmed
precisely why my mindset (and that of a great
deal of other 'club' fans) is this way. I first
started going off England when a minority of the
Wembley crowd decided to boo and heckle John Barnes
during a WC qualifier in the early 90's. I felt
genuinely embarrassed to be English that night;
I detest the vast majority (who am I kidding -
ALL!) of Man U's England contingent but never
would I stoop to booing one of my own 'supposed'
team - singling out one player in that manner
and making him the scapegoat is shameful and it
changed my outlook completely; definitely not
The Liverpool Way (unless your name is Danny,
it seems). I've never been to an England game
and doubt very much that I ever will. That said,
I was very much looking forward to the recent
encounter with Denmark because on the morning
of the match I was at (the decent) Old Trafford
watching England beat Sri Lanka in the 3rd test
and an enormous TV screen had been erected especially
for the 'other' England occasion. At about 12.15
the cricket crowd did a remarkably good impression
of Goodison Park at 4.40 every other Saturday
- it vanished. A few minutes later several thousand
of us had congregated in the car-park. For the
first time probably since I was at school, I was
genuinely caught up in the optimistic air and
national mutuality of an England game. 5 pints
before lunch on a hot day certainly played it's
part but - I have to say - for the few moments
that it lasted, it really did feel rather bloody
Normal service was soon be resumed however: every
single time poor old Emile got anywhere near the
ball, he was roundly booed by, I would guess,
around 1/3 of the gathered masses. It didn't matter
if his involvement was peripheral - a quick lay-off
back into midfield – or more fully-fledged
- a run or shot at goal - he was not going to
be forgiven for the heinous crime of 'being picked'
by the national coach. Flashback to Digger in
'93 - despite the decidedly major impact of the
aforementioned booze, I could still remember vividly
why reaching anything even approaching the Anfield-like
heights of anticipation and excitement with the
national side was still all but impossible.
It (the reaction to Emile that is) all changed
of course the second he slammed one under the
body of Sorensen to make the game safe; I hate
to think what might've happened had that one not
gone in. I have to admit really fearing for Emile
prior to the trip to Japan. He'd had a fairly
poor season for us, certainly when compared to
2000/1 and I just got a feeling that if it did
all go horribly wrong for England during the summer,
it would inevitably be Emile who carried the can
for it. The goal against Denmark followed by him
probably being England's best player in the Brazil
game - not to mention the blooper from Seaman
- seemed to get him off the hook. And thank God
for our sake it did. The press doesn't normally
need an invitation to persecute LFC players (that
said, in almost every single player-by-player
review, I don't think he ever got above 6 out
There was a palpable feeling of shared despair
almost everywhere you went after the Brazil defeat.
It had all gone horribly wrong, albeit as expected,
just when it seemed the country might in fact
be on the verge of something special. The reaction
of those few football-morons at Old Trafford just
a few days earlier however definitely made the
defeat and subsequent exit that much easier to
swallow. I suppose there's a very fair chance
that the perpetrators were from the 'other' Old
Trafford across the road - funny though; you'd
have thought that they'd all be more than used
to winning f@~k-all this year, wouldn't you?
There are other reasons, of course, why dedication
to the national cause as a Liverpool fan is frequently
called into question. One of the main factors
is undoubtedly 'the nation's treasure', our very
own Saint Michael of Owen. Do you not just get
the feeling that the rest of the country is waiting
for him to fail? I was watching one of the evening
World Cup highlights' program's fairly early on
in the competition, I think it was between the
Sweden and Argentina fixtures - and the 'experts'
in the panel were casting their thoughts over
England's chances. No joke, the presenter - a
youngish looking bloke called Matt Smith I think
- said something along the lines of "...and
with Michael Owen overdue a good game, England
might just be able to capitalise..."
Overdue a good game is he?! What does the poor
sod have to do to be appreciated in this country?
He's just 22 and - with the exception of ONE free-kick
by Captain-Beefhead (in a game in which Michael
was not even involved) - has carried this country's
national hopes for over 4 years. That's included
(I think) being the top-scorer at each of the
last 3 major tournaments including scoring one
of THE greatest goals of all-time. He continues
to pierce the world's most prestigious defences
and, as far as I can remember, has never let the
national team down (neither has he domestically
either but that point has been laboured in depth
elsewhere). It really does beggar belief. I knew
the 5-1 would soon be forgotten because it was
a Liverpool inspired achievement, but it didn’t
even last a year.
Anyway, in summary: England are coming home,
not football. Michael looks like he may be injured
again, Emile is still disliked by the vast majority,
Stevie G and Danny barely got past customs before
more injury-jinx, Jamie C and Nicky Barmby didn't
even get that far, Beckham did next to nothing
during the whole competition except shit out of
tackles but will probably get knighted (nice hair
though), England's best player is (naturally)
now heading to Old Trafford, the media's xenophobic
build up to and reaction following the defeat
of Argentina spoke volumes of their 'profession'
and morals, and Rivaldo, well, what a tosser he
turned out to be - but such small moanings aside,
this World Cup really has been a wonderful ride
from start to finish. Truth of the matter is though
- and I have no idea if I'm alone here - but the
whole World Cup seemed a much less pressured affair
for me than any game involving LFC ever could
be. I was excited at the prospect of England playing
but I was never once nervous or edgy. Surely that's
irrational isn't it?! I got more upset losing
to Grimsby in last season's Worthington Cup than
I did when the nation missed out by a whisker
on its chance to be the best in the World. Crazy?
No. Roll on 18th August.