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Anorak | Paying The Penalty

Paying The Penalty

by | 24th, December 2004

‘OKAY, so when have we heard this before?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

England qualify for the summer’s major football tournament with a brave 0-0 draw at the home of their major rival and come in to it full of hope.

They qualify from their group in second place, a late goal having deprived them of the top spot – as a young teenage sensation captures the world’s imagination.

They draw their first game in the knock-out stage 2-2, but only after a headed Sol Campbell goal had been controversially disallowed (by a referee who is then hounded by England fans).

And they lose on penalties…

Yes, there was more than a hint of the 1998 World Cup about this year’s European Championship failure, even to the pillorying of David Beckham in the aftermath.

Beckham’s fault on this occasion was not to get sent off – if only! – but to cap a series of lacklustre performances with a botched penalty.

The ground moved for the England skipper, not judging by his text messages for the first time that year, and he ended up sending the vital kick into orbit.

The Portuguese, on the other hand, all managed to overcome the shifting tectonic plates and retain their footing, dumping England out of Euro 2004 in the quarter-final stage.

There was a sense of déjà vu too about much of the sporting year as footballers disgraced themselves on and off the pitch, Phil “The Power” Taylor won the world darts crown and England’s cricketers carried all before them.

Sorry? Yes, it may be hard to believe but England’s much-derided cricket side won 11 out of the 12 Tests they have played this calendar year, including a record eight in a row.

This didn’t stop the Sun laying into captain Michael Vaughan in one of the most spectacularly inept bits of sports journalism of our time.

It’s a

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Posted: 24th, December 2004 | In: Back pages Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink