1. I can’t remember exactly where it is but there’s a great moment
somewhere in Beckett where someone launches their boot ‘among’
someone else’s testicles. Christopher Ricks used to cite this as an
example of Beckett’s brilliant use of dead-seeming language. Wayne
Rooney probably isn’t much of a Beckettian (or a Ricksian, come to
that) but he certainly knows how to put his foot among an opponent’s
2. When was the World Cup last an all-European affair at the semi-
final stage? I'll have a nerdy look at the reference books later, but
off the top of my head I can’t remember when. Does this make it less
interesting? Probably it does, a bit.
3. I now want France to win for a whole set of reasons. The non-
footballing ones are that they are the most racially mixed team left
in the competition, and also that they are the oldest. These days I
find it important to support the oldies. The footballing reason for
supporting them is that they come closer than anyone else to playing
the beautiful game. And then there is Zidane, who is both a
footballing reason and a non-footballing one.
4. Footynomics: Portugal v England was the third example of a
smaller, poorer country beating a richer, more populous one. But it
was on penalties, so I’m arguing that it doesn’t count.
Note that in one sense England’s penalties were better than
Portugal’s. Two out of four of theirs missed the goal altogether; all
four of England’s were on target. Normally that would be enough to
win you a shoot-out. But Riccardo guessed the right way to move every
time, even on the penalty Hargreaves scored and (if memory serves) on
the one Carragher put in and then had to retake. So perhaps ‘guessed’
is the wrong verb. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a keeper move the
right way on five consecutive penalties. This makes it official: God hates the England football team.