Another bad day for English sport


I did not see England draw with Costa Rica yesterday as I was working at the time. The edited highlights did  not take long on tv and mainly revolved around Mr Rooney failing to score after he came on to add some experience and  dazzle. I did see the interview with Mr Hodgson who denied this was a bad result or another bad performance. He found plenty to admire in the way our team played, and was full of hope for the future. Apparently Costa Rica 0 England 0 is fine,a  work in progress, a sign we might have some better players at some date in the future.

Nor did I watch England’s cricketers nearly save a match against Sri Lanka that they had thrown away on the previous day. There was a genuine highlight in that with a century from a new player. I did hear on the radio the post match interview with the Captain. At least that was forensic and honest. The Captain admitted his own poor form with the bat. He accepted the English bowlers failed to bowl the line and length the plan required and everyone agreed they should have bowled. He accepted that this defeat was bad news and showed the team had to learn winning ways again. He recognised that to win the team has to apply pressure when they are ahead, and learn to win the crucial sessions or big moments.

So there we have it. The soccer team did just fine by drawing. The cricket team knows it has done badly for six of the last seven tests and wants to do better. I suspect it is easier to do better if you first admit the scope and depth of the problem.  I found Mr Cook’s interview more realistic than Mr Hodgson’s.


  1. Mark B
    June 25, 2014

    John Redwood MP said;
    “Costa Rice”

    Is that an upmarket version of Uncle Benn’s ? :o)

    Cheer up ! Its only a game. No one died and, if we could all settle our difference’s either through talks or sport, I think the world would be a happier place.

    1. Hope
      June 25, 2014

      A bit the like the Tory portrayal of the economy, anyone would think it was brilliant and Osborne had fulfilled every measure he asked us to judge him on. He never seems to mention that he is still borrowing vast sums of money each month, some of which he aimlessly gives away, and that the debt is still growing with interest payments at about £1 billion pounds each week. With the election getting closer it is reasonable to ask when the spending cuts are going to happen, when will our taxes be reduced and why we are supporting swathes of immigration impacting our public services. Yet, there is no money to care for the elderly. They are still fleeced.

      We could ask the same about immigration, law and order, why the Tories are not helping the responsible savers, pensioners etc. Like the England team’s position, all a bit late now.

  2. Mike Stallard
    June 25, 2014

    I am beginning to wonder whether the mercenaries who play football aren’t destroying their own livelihood. First of all, the European teams (Italy, Spain, England) seem to be rather disappointing. Then (it is alleged ed) Suarez bit someone. Then there (were allegations of ed) a match fixing scandal with Ghana. Fifa itself has behaved very badly with (plenty of bad stories ed).

    Pretty soon, I reckon it will go the way of professional wrestling. As soon as things get too big, too arrogant, they suddenly fail.

    Reply The Netherlands and Germany still seem to be able to field competitive teams. Mr Suarez has been disciplined for biting people in the past, but denies this allegation.

  3. Richard1
    June 25, 2014

    Does the FA get any public or lottery money? I hope and assume not. I suggest they give hodgson an investment banking style remuneration deal. Cut his salary from £3m by 90% or so and make his pay principally a performance related bonus.

    We should note that the regulation loving left, particularly in the EU, is trying to push financial institutions away from this flexible model of pay and toward Hodgson style pay with very high salaries irrespective of performance.

  4. Lifelogic
    June 25, 2014

    Who care it is only sport/entertainment and you just end up with knackered knees, hips and backs in old age – bite marks on your shoulder too it seems?

    The England football team always look like good players who have never met each other of played together before. We need a team playing in the premiership who are all English, then just pick these as the backbone of the England team.

  5. Narrow Shoulders
    June 25, 2014

    Politicians of all colours pioneered not taking blame or responsibility for any failure.The future is always bright and the present determined by factors under others’ control.

    Leaders in sport, industry and politics must be held accountable and fall on their swords again if England is to regain its former strength. There must be consequences for continued poor performance or neglect.

    Alistair Cooke has avoided termination the other way that politicians have perfected. The mea culpa followed by the promise to learn lessons. Let us see how well he uses the time he has bought

  6. The PrangWizard
    June 25, 2014

    You are right. I didn’t see the Hodgson interview but we the attitude you recount is far too common. There seems to be a view here in Britain/UK, amongst far too many that we have a divine right to be ‘at the top table’ in this or that. I’ve said before that we as a collective mind need to be severely shaken, many of our leaders, be they political or cultural, are living in the past on former glories. I don’t want to hear again and again that we are a rich country and that ‘we can afford it’, or that we know how to provide a solution to other peoples’ problems. I find their arrogance and smugness embarrassing. We need to have our heads dragged forcibly out of the sand.

    Just look around, in just what, and where, in this modern world, do we truly lead, and what have we lost simply because we thought we didn’t need to ‘get our hands dirty’ or to change, or invent, or we could not see the potential, or ‘the bean counters’ and City spivs didn’t want to look beyond the next quarterly report and recommended ‘give up’? The list of our failures and missed opportunities is almost endless because we thought we could go on without effort. We need to stop pretending we are still where we were 150 years or more ago. Our decline will continue until there is major political restructuring and cultural change.

  7. acorn
    June 25, 2014

    Is this post a metaphor for English politics? Let’s face it was “Another bad day for English politics”. Coulson; Murdoch; Juncker and now, the FPC is seeing Bond and Share markets having the same metrics as they did just before the 2007 crash.

  8. Peter Goodchild
    June 25, 2014

    Trouble with Football – our top league – The Premier (from which most of our team are picked) – is dominated by foreign talent, too much money and a lack of attacking style….all this lethargy in passing back to the goalkeeper and dawdling between bad passing, too little time to gel as a team.
    Our Cricket is dominated by year long fixtures programme, relying upon foreign born players (look at at our previous teams since the 70’s), bad tactics, mediocre fielding at crucial times.
    Problems with modern day politics – much the same with the added fact that all party leaders are not street wise, too involved with rhetoric, spin doctors, image, celebs and a lack of listening to the people who voted for them. Career politicians with no connection to life-as-we know-it background.

  9. Man of Kent
    June 25, 2014

    I was in Spain recently and watched Spain v Holland . Result 5-1 to Holland .

    The Spaniard I was with was muttering ‘Look at them ,their pockets stuffed so full of cash they can’t even run ‘ We could but agree.

    I found our build up to the Italy game in Manaus baffling ,training in the Algarve ,2 weeks for friendlies in Florida , down to Rio and a luxury base ,then up to Manaus a couple of days before the match.

    We trained in tropical and sub-tropical conditions and played our first game in an equatorial climate. They are very different.
    Reinforcement infantry battalions deployed to Malaysia used to take 6 weeks before they were fully acclimatised to fight.

  10. formula57
    June 25, 2014

    [Earlier it occurred to me to post some withering criticism that, a day after our brave boys were in action once more against a formidable foe, you had chosen to focus instead upon the trivia that is Mr Miliband’s leadership woes. I am glad I did not as you have come good, very good 🙂 ]

    Roy Hodgson has succeeded in creating a quandary for those critiquing him: does he really have a genius plan that he is stealthily implementing, making necessary concessions meanwhile to various constraining realities, or is he in fact complacently naïve, clueless or worse and will his reign in due time be viewed as a wasted opportunity. The post-Costa Rica match comments do not tell us, but they are troubling.

  11. libertarian
    June 25, 2014

    Why does no one a) mention or b) draw the obvious conclusion?

    The last Labour government effectively banned competitive sport in schools this is the result.

    My nephew was refused permission to represent his County at Football and Golf as the teachers at his school felt it was “elitist” .

    Meanwhile private schools continued with sport which is why what sporting success we’ve enjoyed in recent years has tended to come from sports such as rowing, golf , hockey and rugby that are supported in the private sector.

    Oh and if I read one more brain dead comment about money I will scream. For your information Man of Kent and others the overpaid team of Spaniards where beaten 5-1 by an OVERPAID Dutch team. The overpaid England players were beaten by overpaid Italian and Uruguayan . Whatever overpaid means.

    We are actually very very good at motor racing with numerous world champions in recent years, and F1 is one of the worlds richest sports

    1. Bazman
      June 26, 2014

      Whos idea was it to sell off all the playing fields for housing and how many private schools sold theirs off? Remind us again.

  12. Stephen Berry
    June 25, 2014

    Before John’s blog turns into an exercise of national breast beating about the failures of various English sporting teams, let’s take a more realistic look at international sport in general.

    I have always, perhaps a little unjustly, tended to equate sporting success with national failure. Politicians always want to manipulate sport for their own purposes. Once Soviet Bloc politicians had realised that sport, not religion, was the opium of the masses, no effort was spared in the search for medals and their sportsmen and women were accorded elite status. I would hazard a guess that East Germany was the most successful sporting country ever, with its endless string of Olympic medals. But all the sporting success in the world could not save this country from collapse.

    But it’s worse than that. Sport is an unfailing source of ill-will between countries. In 1933, the Australian government nearly broke off diplomatic relations with Britain because it felt that the English cricket team had used very ungentlemanly tactics in its matches with the Aussies. The 1936 Berlin Olympics have become famous for the popularisation of an ideology whose message has never been construed as goodwill to all.

    But pride of place for the sport that has done most to further international disharmony must be given to soccer. The populations of European cities used to quake with fear at the arrival of British spectators for European Cup matches. Even the deployment of hundreds of police officers was sometimes unable to prevent trouble. At the final of the European Cup in 1985, a riot of rival British and Italian fans resulted in dozens dead. And what has the recent alleged biting incident involving the Uruguayan player done for the promotion of good relations between Uruguay and Italy?

    After all, only a bloodthirsty maniac would suggest holding an Israeli-Palestinian soccer match between before a mixed crowd of 50,000 spectators to “improve Arab-Jewish understanding.”

  13. Robert Eve
    June 25, 2014

    John – your post sums up the difference between cricket and football.

  14. Robert Taggart
    June 25, 2014

    Question. Does Blighty give aid to Sri Lanka ?
    Should the answer be in the affirmative – that would be unfortunate – but that could now be changed…
    Sri Lanka have shown what they be capable of doing by their own efforts (and a little help from our side !).
    Ergo – all such government / taxpayer funded aid to Sri Lanka should now be halted – now be the time to force Sri Lankans to do more to help themselves in those things that really matter (good governance, sound economics, rule of law…).

  15. StevenL
    June 25, 2014

    He accepted the English bowlers failed to bowl the line and length the plan required

    Really? I don’t believe for one minute that England’s opening bowlers a) have no control over the length they bowl b) weren’t working to a plans that involved bowling short of a length

    I think they simply figured that in the absence of a spinner they needed to bowl short stuff with the old ball to the Sri Lankan middle order. i.e. England management believe that they no longer have a bowling attack able to compete in test match cricket.

    Would Glenn McGrath have bowled all those bouncers or stuck to bowling top of off stump and in the corridor? They need to get back to basics and practice bowling line and length.

  16. Lindsay McDougall
    June 25, 2014

    There were specific reasons for England’s cricket defeat, among them:
    (1) Matt Prior dropped catches
    (2) James Anderson and Chris Broad bowled too short and too wide in Sri Lanka’s second innings.

    Broad simply had an off day but we have to consider whether Anderson and Prior are getting too old. They should be good for the next two years, covering the next Ashes, but the question must be put.

    1. StevenL
      June 26, 2014

      The pundits are already talking up Anderson and Broad to take loads of wickets at Trent Bridge. They are very quiet about all the talented 20-something players they will be bowling at.

      Look at Virat Kohli, only 25, only 24 tests under his belt. But he averages over 52 in one day internationals at a strike rate of 9 runs every 10 balls. He’s made 100 in 52 balls against Australia. If he hits Anderson out of test cricket he’ll go back to India and make millions on the back of it.

      Look up their squad, most of them are in their mid 2o’s and fresh from hitting sixes off Dale Steyn in the IPL. It could be absolute carnage.

  17. Kenneth R Moore
    June 25, 2014

    Lord Redwoods analysis is very accurate.
    These are just spoilt and privelidged young men that don’t work hard enough. The manager is also to blame for telling the little dears that they did okay when they were just embarrassing. RH needs to get tough but he still gets paid handsomely so why rock the boat ?
    The shameful way in which English patriotism is derided in modern society is also a factor. Teach kids that it is wrong to be openly proud of their culture and force them to embrace all others is a recipe for failure. There was little fire in the bellies of the players, no hunger.

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