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A definition of mediocrity?

Posted in England, football, World Cup by Tony C on June 20, 2010

England Crest 

With the World Cup in full swing and the English team doing their best to cause as many heart failures as possible the usual barrage of Blame Throwers and self immolation is under way.  I do wonder however if we should really expect the national squad to be as good as everyone wants and expects them to be?  On the face of it the answer would seem to be a resounding ‘Yes’, after all the Premiership is thought to be the best in the world and the amount of money the team takes home would seem to imply some sort of elite status for both the Manager and players.

A cursory look at the raw data however suggests our expectations should be far, far lower as England’s record in international competition is mixed at best.  Between 1872 when the country played it’s first international match and the game against Algeria on 18th of June 2010 England has played a total of 886 times, won 502 times, drawn 213 times and lost 0n 171 occasions, which is admittedly above average but only just.  When it really counts though it doesn’t look quite so good.  Apart from the win in 1966, which on closer examination wasn’t as clear cut as the historical narrative would have us believe, the best we’ve managed is 4th in 1990 with probably the best team to ever put on an England shirt.  The European Championship hasn’t been any better with a 3rd in 1968 and a semi final place in 1996.

I shall now be trying to watch all future England games knowing the blokes in the England shirts are as good as we or they think they are and then we can treat any win as the half full pint glass it is!

Henry VIII, John Lewis, Monarchy and David Starkey

Posted in David Starkey, England, History, monarchy, Politics by Tony C on April 25, 2007

The annual Kingston Reading Festival is a month of lectures and readings from local authors, writers and journalists which kicked off at John Lewis last night with Dr David Starkey giving a fascinating, insightful and at times humorous assessment of how Henry VIII is possibly the most significant individual in English, if not European history.

Here’s some of the salient bits as I remember.

  • When Henry VIII came the throne England was staunchly Catholic, probably the most devout Catholic county in Europe.  This is likely due to the fact that is was the furthest from Rome.
  • Henry himself was a devout and committed Catholic.
  • The Monarchy and the Church until quite recently were hand in glove, the Queen after all is still the Supreme Governor of the Church of England although this isn’t quiet the gig it used to be.
  • In Henry’s time the Monarch was therefore was not only the head of the church but the Executive leader too.  England was therefore by definition a totalitarian state.
  • Significant points in history more often than not turn on the smallest of events.  In this case a chance meeting between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
  • In the 1500s the Pope wasn’t adverse to granting divorces especially to the ‘great and the good’ who supported and defended the faith.  The timing of the request by Henry to divorce Catherine of Aragon was appalling as the Pope was busy trying to see off the French and he wasn’t in the mood or position to grant anything.
  • Once a divorce wasn’t forthcoming Henry did what any devout does when they don’t get they want, they examine the texts for reasons they should get what they want.  One justification Henry came up with was based around the supremacy of a Monarch over the Pope, the bible after all has lots things to say about Kings and how great they are but the bible doesn’t contain one reference to a Pope of any kind.  Henry concluded that Popes weren’t actually Gods idea therefore can’t tell a King what to do.

Must go and read the book.

England win the World Cup…

Posted in dream, England, football, Italy, World Cup by Tony C on April 15, 2007

…well in the land of morpheus anyway.

I had a dream last night where England won the World Cup.  The final was against Italy and the score was 3:1.

Yes I know…silly eh?