|England v. Denmark on ITV:|
A brief review
[Commissioned by The Mail On Sunday, 2002]
UNLIKE GERMANY and Argentina, Denmark haven't made war on us since the eleventh century. Nor have they made a habit of beating us at football. Drumming up a blood rivalry was going to be difficult. In ITV's pre-match report from Copenhagen, several very placid, very blond interviewees claimed that when the Danes topped their group, the denizens of that city “went mad”. Apparently some of them even left their seats.
Back in the studio, Des Lynam's line-up of pundits resembled an evolutionary wall-chart of human articulacy, starting with Paul Gascoigne at the primaeval end and peaking, surprisingly, with Gary Neville. The admirable Sir Bobby Robson has not been knighted for services to punditry. Terry Venables, ever versatile, shed murk upon any subject which came his way. As for Gazza, calling on him to explain football is like asking a fruitbat to explain sonar. It's unfair to Gazza, unfair to the fruitbat, and certainly unfair to us viewers.
The first half of the match itself was too thrilling for any commentator to mar. I caught a few mentions of “amazing pace” - how sweet the sound - before I kicked over my computer table in the fifth minute.
In the down-tempo second half, Ron Atkinson was by turns baffling and alarming. “There's a growingness about this team,” he averred. “We could all be in the big Yo.” Dear God! Could we? Clive Tyldesley explained that Ron meant the final in Yokohama. There was also plenty of time to play Name Clive's Reference. I spotted Shakespeare, Kipling and Ringo Starr. Come Ireland-Spain, I have high hopes for Wilde, Cervantes and Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy.
"We're not going home!” crowed Clive, echoing the roar from the stands. The tag “just yet” remained, for once, unsaid and unsung. Only Sven Goran Eriksson characteristically refused to succumb to the general glee.
“We want to hear you say we're going to win it!” demanded Jim Rosenthal, catching him on the touchline
“We'll see,” said Sven evenly, and walked away.
All material on this site is copyrighted © to David Bennun and may not be reprinted or reused without permission. But I'm a reasonable man.