England Euro 2012 Bingo – Italy

Introduction

England Euro 2012 Bingo – France

England Euro 2012 Bingo – Sweden

England Euro 2012 Bingo – Ukraine

England have left the party as they so often have in the past, arriving with favour-currying bottles of Grey Goose, only for revellers to gradually discover that they’ve merely decanted Glen’s Vodka into some brand-name empties before leaving, shamefaced and friendless. And so, too, draws to a close England Euro 2012 Bingo. What began as a flippant attempt at cataloguing clichés eventually incorporated a growing sense of subversion, as certain tropes were put to rest by a savvy manager who leaves with his reputation bolstered amongst fans, media and possibly even players who were slow to accept him. Some hardy perennials – the self-destruct button, the futile defiance against the odds, simply not being good enough – can always be relied on to thrive, but the sense of entitlement, of clinging to a fading past, means that the ubiquitous, smothering presence of 1966 and arrogant claims to the game’s heritage have been waylaid. Perhaps not forever, but for the time being at least, they promise hope of something less worthy of jaded cynicism in future times.

False hope was tantalisingly proffered by Riccardo Montolivo’s penalty miss, but it didn’t matter, because once again England were simply not good enough: There were plenty of examples of this, but none more damning than Ashley Cole’s penalty miss. No-one has ever, or will ever, say of a penalty: “He’s caught it well, but the run-up just wasn’t right.” His stuttering run-up was a dismal exercise in studied nonchalance, and it sapped his shot of power and accuracy. Trying to psyche out Gigi Buffon with a tricksy run-up to the ball was simply never, ever going to work given the goalkeeper’s experience. This is something Cole can match him for, and yet the arrogant preamble to his tame kick was something you might expect from someone much younger and greener than a man who, while much-maligned, has quite possibly been England’s most consistent top-level performer since Gary Lineker.

Futile defiance against the odds: Defeat in these circumstances was a lot easier to take than failures of yore given the simple fact that Italy deserved it. England fans and players have bemoaned the lottery of the shoot-out, and the fickle nature of fate, but these traits would never have been more apparent than if Italy had lost on this occasion. There are some positives to take from the tournament though, chiefly the fact that Roy Hodgson has taught his team how to defend again. This was the faint tactical promise that shone not so much like a beacon, but like the functional high-vis coat of a paramedic: serviceable, reliable, dependable, utilitarian. For all the talk of Andrea Pirlo running the show, he still couldn’t quite engineer a goal for his team, which speaks of something positive for England’s obduracy. The odds were already stacked against England before the tournament began, due to a litany of injuries, Wayne Rooney’s suspension, John Terry’s court case, the Rio Ferdinand fiasco, and the overarching fact that Roy Hodgson had to juggle them all in a matter of weeks. The fact that England took Italy as far as they could’ve in spite of the obstacles heralds a restoration of a fighting spirit that had been lamely submissive in South Africa two years ago.

Bad luck! – If it could be said that footballers are responsible for making their own luck, then Ashley Young paid a fair price for a poor tournament by hitting his penalty against the bar. The fact is, pre-tournament brouhaha’s aside, nothing had gone against England on the pitch. There can be no recriminations, no vengeful, skyward fists – England got what they deserved and can blame no-one or nothing for their elimination. Indeed, there is some slither of good fortune to be found in the fact that it was Young that missed a penalty, rather than someone who had acquitted themselves fairly well, such as Andy Carroll. The man whose headed goal against Sweden marks a subtle reinvention from joke-butt to burgeoning Crouch-like cult figure could well have been destroyed by such a high-profile failure. Young, whose four-game disappearance was a source of huge frustration, is more worthy of some guilty introspection, as he seeks to right wrongs in the future.

Grown men crying – Well, obviously. ’Twas ever thus. ‘Twas ever fat men smearing face paint with their own salty emotions. ‘Twas ever retired stalwarts choking back the tears of vicarious adrenaline. ‘Twas ever England, England, England…

The Merseyside Derby – As It Happened

After the pioneering minute-by-minute review of last year’s Old Firm derby, Ruud Gullit Sitting On A Shed has further journalistic ground to break, in time for tonight’s Merseyside derby at Anfield. Evoking the spirit of Liverpool’s number-crunching moneyball ethos, we have spared no expense in developing the newest technology that will provide state-of-the-art commentary of tonight’s game against Everton. Let Steve Jobs’s demise be not in vain, as computers continue to improve our lives beyond measure.

Introducing ScouseBot3000

Made with the latest ClicheChip microtechnology and calibrated with the trimmed moustache debris of Terry McDermott, it is ready to report in the most deadly accurate manner on tonight’s game. There may be a few teething problems, but we’re sure you’ll be delighted with the results – unlike the supporters of whichever side doesn’t win tonight!!! Funny stuff, but we’ll leave the rest of the jokes to ScouseBot

1 minute –  <Running ‘mawkish symbolism of Liver bird’ sequence….OK>

2 minutesScouseBot3000 notices that it is David Moyes’s 10th birthday. An e-card has been sent to the e-mail address ‘Moyesy@hotmail.co.uk’ with the theme ‘Justin Bieber’.

7 minutes – Jordan Henderson has a shot blocked by Jack Rodwell after good work by Luis Suarez. Failed to initiate ‘Henderson Celebration’ sequence. This program has been inactive for some time. Open Control Panel to uninstall.

10 minutes – Leighton Baines cuts the ball back on the left to Steven Pienaar, who shoots over from inside the box. ‘Operation Pienaar Reboot’ 62% complete. Please restart.

22 minutes – Jordan Henderson misplaces a simple pass. ScouseBot3000 calculates that, with the money Liverpool stand to make from their new kit deal, they could afford to buy Jordan Henderson again. ScouseBot3000 advises against this. Would you like to run Jordan Henderson’s season 2011/2012 statistics? <ERROR – Forced closedown>

<run ScouseBot3000 restart>

<Load Merseyside derby minute-by-minute report>

<Load The Beatles reference macro>

<ScouseBot3000 – continue from previous session>

34 minutesGOAL! Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard curls in a lob from the edge of the box. Pop band The Beatles came from Liverpool.

39 minutes – A Leighton Baines cross is met by the head of Denis Stracqualursi ten yards out, but Pepe Reina saves. The Beatles were known as ‘The Fab Four’, due to being both fabulous and fourbulous.

45 minutes – The half-time score is Liverpool 1 Everton 0. <end first half>

Half-time – Initiating geographical cliché program – Goodison Park and Anfield are a stone’s throw apart from each other. DERBYFACT: Comedian Stan Boardman once attempted to prove this during ITV’s 1992 Telethon, but could not find a stone. Angry viewers rescinded their charitable donations, and the event was subsequently scrapped, owing thousands of pounds to the nation’s impoverished.

46 minutes – End hibernation mode. Commence second half.

51 minutes – GOAL! Steven Gerrard scores his second goal of the game after driving the ball home from ten yards. Steven Gerrard’s favourite Beatle is Steve McManaman. The Liverpools are from Beatle.

62 minutes – Everton deploy ‘Desperate Triple Substitution’ sequence – Seamus Coleman, Denis Stacqualursi and Victor Anichebe off, Leon Osman, Nikica Jelavic and Royston Drenthe on.

70 minutes – Scandal magnet Luis Suarez latches on to an Andy Carroll through-ball, but squanders the chance. That shot was as bad as Your 30-day trial of Metaphorio has expired. Please visit our website to renew your subscription.

78 minutes – Suarez is involved again, chasing a Stewart Downing pass, before being hauled down by Leighton Baines. Suarez reacts graciously. Input formula ‘=SPORTSMANSHIP, LUIS SUAREZ + ANYONE’ – formula error, unknown script.

93 minutes – GOAL! Steven Gerrard breaks from the half-way line, before playing a one-two with Luis Suarez in the box, resulting in an easy finish to seal his hat-trick. Would you like to run the file Phil Collins – Against All Odds.mp3?

<ERROR – no soundcard installed>

Full time – Liverpool beat Everton 3-0. Running ‘Liverpool celebration’ sequence…

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Rare Alan Shearer goals discovered in spinster’s loft

Football fans awoke today to the surprising news that some previously unscored goals by Alan Shearer have surfaced in an old woman’s home in Gateshead.

The cache of 28 missing strikes was found by retired schoolteacher Anne Grimley in the loft of her home, which was previously owned by a Newcastle United fan, several years ago, but told no-one, saying “I didn’t think they’d fetch sixpence.”

The goals occured between the years of 1998 and 2001, and take Shearer’s overall club career tally to 567, but despite the reinstatement of the goals, he still has no further trophies to his name. The poacher-turned-pundit responded to the news with typically dull candour, saying: “I’m surprised, obviously, at this surprise. It’s surprising. I just hit it and it’s went in.” The insufferable dullard vows to spend an hour running in his garden with his customary hand aloft in solitary celebration. The goals will be donated to Andy Carroll.