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This page is for reader comments regarding the England team or international football.  Send your remarks to England Football Online and we'll try to put them up soon after we get them. Please tell us your name, city or town and country.  Younger readers are welcome to contribute.

 

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Nigel Sloan, Grimsby, Canada, 11 October 2004, on Beckham as captain:

Is Becks fit to captain the boys any longer? Despite his timely and sublime goals  the red mist descends when pretty boy takes a knock or two.  His behaviour in the '98 Argentina match just might be put down to youth. His behaviour on Saturday though, cannot be so easily explained away.  He was body checked by a frustrated fourth rate Welsh clogger.  His rib(s) was cracked.  But in that atmosphere and environment  (not to mention pay bracket) what does he expect? Becks should have matured by now. England cannot afford his self destructive "leadership" if it hopes to mount a serious bit in Germany two years hence.

To whom should the armband go?

PY: We debated this by e-mail during and right after the match with one of our website colleagues, Chris Goodwin, who asked whether Beckham might have planned it to wipe clean his yellow card slate since it would only cost him a suspension for the next match against one of the group's alleged minnows, Azerbaijan.  Originally our response was that if he planned it to clear his yellow card slate, it was only because he himself didn't want the bother of going to Azerbaijan and that it would have been preferable from the team's standpoint that he serve his two-cards-in-the-competition suspension in one of the following two matches against Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan, both at home, rather than in the Azerbaijan away match.  And, in any event, the way in which he went about it was risky; he took the chance of a red card expulsion against Wales.  Then it turned out he was injured and might have missed the Azerbaijan away match anyway, which would mean it was a smart move to serve the suspension in that match, giving him a clean slate the rest of the way.  But we have doubts that it was planned, and you are right, it doesn't  leave Beckham looking like a captain capable of leading the team.  Whether he is captain or not, Beckham's impetuosity may cost England dearly again one day, as it did against Argentina at World Cup 1998.

Gianluca Ottone, Savigliano, Italy, 8 October 2004, on England’s strip: 

I couldn't agree more with you, Colin Wood, about your comment on the England current strip (by Umbro).  I want back the plain white shirt, the red numbers (!!!) and the yellow one for keepers and not all that rubbish of sky blue, navy blue with red flashes, etc.

And to finish, I don't want the gold star (leave it to France, Italy, Brasil ...England don't need a star to remember the 1966 triumph) and the writing "England" on the Three Lions.  Thank you

Colin Wood, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, U.K., 6 October 2004, on England’s strip:

I totally agree with Phil Jones' comments (19th September 2004) on the current England kit.   Every two years we wait to see what travesty Umbro come up with in their interpretation of our national team's colours.  Why do Umbro have "ENGLAND" over the three lions???  Anybody in the world who watches football knows the three lions crest IS England, no explanation necessary.  And who at Umbro thought of the ridiculous gold star? We all know we won the World Cup in '66 and we're long overdue for another title but we don't need to advertise the fact. 

As Peter Young said, "it's all change for change sake" (or in Umbro's case: money's sake).  I love our traditional strip from the 60's and early 70's: Plain white shirts with the three lions over the heart and a red number (no name) on the back, plain navy blue shorts, plain white socks. Pure and simple evoking the golden years of Mr R.F.C. Moore et al. Obviously this format is not sophisticated enough for the Umbro designers but maybe they should look at the demand TOFFS experience for their replica retro shirts. 

I'm probably going over old ground but the two things that spoil my enjoyment of watching my country play football is our disastrous kit designs and our failure to hang onto an early lead..

PY: We would allow Umbro to change only two things--the fabric from which the strip is made to take account of technological advances and the strip's fit--loose or tight, long or short--to suit the fashion of the day.

Gianluca Ottone, Savigliano, Italy, 4 October 2004, on supporting England from Italy:

I know maybe, for you and your readers my situation is a bit strange, but I'm Italian and a true supporter of England national team since I was a kid.  I'm a lover of English football at every level (from the top flight to non league) in particular the English  football of the 60's and 70's.  I'm probably one of the most important collectors of English football memorabilia outside England (stadium postcards, badges, rosettes, programmes, magazines, books, yearbooks) and I like also the English way of life, the traditions, culture, history and I've visited a lot of places throughout your country.  I've found your site very, very interesting in particular for the shirts section ... congratulations.  

PY:  England Football Online welcomes support for England from anywhere.  Your mention of your memorabilia collection gives us the chance to remind readers that if they are able to fill in gaps in our information from their own memorabilia, we will be grateful.  The collective resources of our readers surely dwarf ours, and readers who contribute will get credit on the website if they wish plus the satisfaction of knowing they have helped make the England team history available to all who have computer access.

Nigel Sloan, Grimsby, Canada, 23 September 2004, on Brian Clough:

Here's an imponderable for the regulars.  Would Cloughie have made the great England manager so many people say he would have?  I suspect he'd have fallen somewhere between bad and brilliant, say the Sir Bobby Robson level.  One thing he would have achieved was the competitive edge within the camp.  Sadly something completely lost on Sven, Becks, Owen and the boys in Club England.

Answers on a postcard to the usual address.  A fiver to the first three correct entries received by 31 June 2017.

Rest In Peace Cloughie.  

PY: It's a safe bet he'd have been in controversy throughout his England tenure, which might not have lasted long unless the results were superb.  We would like to think he could have pulled it off.  But dealing with the F.A. and the clubs might have driven him off the far end.  He did not put up with nonsense, did he?  Yes, rest in peace, Cloughie; you earned it.

Phil Jones, Leigh, Lancashire, England, 19 September 2004, on England’s strip:

Just been redirected to your superb site.  Rest assured it's now in my favourites!

Your uniforms section is of particular interest to me & I was in full agreement when I read your comments on Umbro & the F.A.  between them degrading the shirt.  A gold star indeed, they must be wetting themselves on the streets of Montevideo!  And an idea for Post Office stamps.  A big arrow with "This is the Queen" inside a cartoon bubble!  Thirdly, I know certain players have been completely anonymous in their performances lately but do we really have to  have their names on the back of their jerseys in every game?  Tournaments ok but friendlies & qualifiers?  There's just no need. 

I dread to think what abomination we're going to be faced with in March when the new home strip comes out.  I've started being more selective about buying shirts.  I only get ones I actually like now & then I'll only buy them once they're flogged off for half price before the new one comes out, e.g., getting the current home shirt just before the Poland game for £20.  They can keep the current away shirt, it's awful!

Keep up the good work.

PY: We presume your very apt postage stamp concept is directed at putting "England" at the top of the three-lions crest or on the shirt itself, as if further identification were needed.  When you have to churn out a new strip every year, what you get is change for change's sake, nearly always a bad thing.  It's all about money, of course, and, sadly, what they are feeding on is the fervent desire of England's youngest fans to own and wear the latest England strip.  They simply must have it.  Our own preference is for the strip worn during the 1960s and early 1970s, plain white or plain red, unadorned by anything but the three-lions crest.  We would be happy were England to wear those classic shirts always.

Ian Forrester, Ealing, London, 17 September 2004, on David James:

Thank the Lord:  James has been dropped.

Much as it pains me to say “I told you so”, I told you so.  I refer to the comments I made on 23rd and 24th June following David James’ errors in the game against France. I find it highly irksome that it took another two James howlers for Eriksson and Clemence, whose judgment has been so lauded in this forum by the editors, to finally drop David James.

I quote: “James has been consistent enough to preserve his place in the England team, and he is No. 1 in the opinion of the only man that counts, Sven-Göran Eriksson, who takes goalkeeping advice from Ray Clemence, although we suppose you question their judgment, too.” Frankly, yes, until Robinson’s appointment last night, I did. And it would seem that they have come around to doubting their own previous judgment too. 

A goalkeeper needs one quality above all others, consistency. James has never been consistent in his entire career. “Armchair critics” and football pundits agree that James is prone to making mistakes; he has “one in his locker”. This is the one thing that goalkeepers must not do regularly, yet, as England fans, we have been incessantly subjected to the miserable sight of James (draw a deep breath) fumbling crosses into oncoming attackers; allowing shots that he should have easily saved to squirm under him; coming out when he should have stayed on his line, leaving our goal dangerously empty; getting no where near free kicks that another keeper may have pushed past the post (need I continue?) TIME AND AGAIN for England, City and, previously, Liverpool. And this in spite of the fact that “James religiously reviews videotapes of his performances, and since he’s a pretty bright fellow and a pretty experienced goalkeeper as well, we doubt he misses much”. Apart from the ball when heading to our goal.

From this day forth I sincerely hope that all James does just that, watch videotapes of England, without ever participating again. I wish Robinson the best of luck in his fledgling England career, confident in the belief that, at the very least, he will do a better job than James did. The editors concluded my dressing down with the comment “We prefer Eriksson's judgment over yours, at least on this.” Well now it seems our opinions on this matter are finally aligned. So much the better for English football.

PY: We can tell how pained you are, Ian.  Your message shrieks with pain!  But we suppose you are entitled to gloat since James did have a night of horror so soon after you expressed your fervent hope he would be replaced.  We’ve been wrong before, and no doubt we’ll be wrong again.  But we (and that’s an editorial “we” since only one person is responsible for the editor’s views) believed James was the best of a fairly mediocre lot, although he is getting on.  We shall see how Robinson fares when he faces a real test.  We dearly hope it is much better than James did, if only for the team’s sake, but we have our doubts since he does not have James’ capability of making the very difficult save.  

Nikki Hardman, Edgbaston, England, 13 September 2004, on Harold Payne Hardman:

This is the first time I've been on your site and as the original footie chick I think it's great.  However as the great granddaughter of the above mentioned player I'd just like to point out that you killed him off a little too soon.  He actually died on 9th June 1965 at the ripe old age of 83.  But apart from that the site is amazing .

P.S. Your misprint would mean that Manchester United had a dead chairman sitting in the stands for a few years!

PY: Apologies, Nikki, for inflicting this indignity on your illustrious great grandfather, who, among many other accomplishments, was an Olympic Games gold medal winner as a member of Great Britain's 1908 team.  It must have been a typographical error because our sources give the same date you do.  Thank you for the correction, which has now been made.  We hope other readers will write in to correct the other mistakes which undoubtedly have crept on to a site containing so much detailed information.

Nigel Sloan, Grimsby, Canada, 13 September 2004, on the abandoned 1995 match against the Republic of Ireland: 

Oh dear, oh dear, looks like the old Celtic inferiority complex is rearing its ugly head again.  Even in the face of fact and reasoned argument there's always a few who want to have a go at England.  A nice pint of Murphy's Bigot's Stout for Gavin.  Put it on my slate.

Up the Irish! 

Gavin, Cork, Ireland, 10 September 2004, on the abandoned 1995 match against the Republic of Ireland: 

You guys have a nice site there!  However, one bone of contention.  You note that as there was no mention of the 1-0 score between Ireland and England in ‘95 at Lansdowne Road when those disturbances broke out, that you wouldn't record one either.  However, if you look on both the FAI and English FA sites, they in fact do list the result. And as you said, caps were awarded. 

Wouldn’t it be great if anytime the result wasn’t going our way, we could simply throw a tantrum, and have the whole match abandoned! A little akin to taking the ball home if you don’t like how things are going in the playground.  Food for thought. 

PY:  Last week we had a message from an English reader (now posted immediately below) telling us we were wrong to include the match in our official match list because the Football Association (F.A.) does not list it in its match list.  We just can't win.

The F.A. has been inconsistent in the way it treats the match, as pointed out in our essay on England's disputed official matches.  More recently, it designated the first European Championship 2004 qualifier against Turkey as England's 800th official match, and it could only do that by disregarding the 1995 Republic of Ireland match.  The 1995 match is not included in the F.A. website's listing of England's record against the Republic of Ireland, which has 13 matches played between the two sides when the total would be 14 were the 1995 abandonment included.  Point us to the place you say the F.A. website lists the match; it’s not there.   The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) website does include the match in its compilation of the Republic's record against England and counts it as an Ireland win.

Our position has been this:  The match must be included in England's  official match list because caps were awarded.  The awarding of caps is inconsistent, in our view, with unofficial status.  However, since the match was abandoned at 27 minutes and not played to its conclusion, no official result was reached and the match must be recorded simply as an abandonment.  The match was not an England loss; an abandonment does not produce a result.  That's what an abandonment is--the stopping of a match without conclusion or result.  We thus do not include the match or the Ireland goal in our England team record computations.  We would have followed the same course had England been ahead at the time of abandonment. 

We doubt the English hooligans threw the tantrum, as you call it, with the idea of preventing an England loss.  We do not doubt that some fans of the Republic of Ireland and apparently the FAI are so desperate for wins against England that they would claim that a 1-0 lead at 27 minutes is the equivalent of a victory.  We are not, however,  interested here in what motivates English hooligans or Ireland fans or the FAI.  Our sole interest is in accuracy. 

Since you apparently question our motives in recording the match as an abandonment rather than an Ireland victory, we note that the scoreline at the time of the abandonment gets far more attention on our website than it would otherwise because it is mentioned in an asterisked footnote wherever we list England's team record.  It is also mentioned in Terry Venables' managerial record and David Platt's captaincy record, and it will be mentioned in the records of every England player who appeared that day when we get around to posting them.  You cannot fairly accuse us of ignoring the fact that the Republic were ahead 1-0 at the time of abandonment.  It must be mentioned at least a dozen times on our site already with another dozen mentions to come.

If the F.A. and the FAI ever reach an agreement that the match should stand as a 1-0 victory for Ireland, we will be glad to amend our records.  That was what happened with the abandoned match against Argentina in 1953; the two associations involved agreed the match should stand as a scoreless draw despite the abandonment.  But short of such an agreement, we intend to treat the match as we have done so far, as an official match in which no result was reached because of abandonment.  If the F.A. ever makes a considered statement that the match was not an official international, we will remove it from our match list.   As far as we know, it has not yet done so.  Furthermore, we think it ludicrous to award caps for appearances in a match that is not official, and we therefore hope the F.A. does not do so. 

ADDITIONAL:

CG (30 October 2009): In the past couple of years, the Football Association has rectified its decision regarding the abandoned match against the Republic of Ireland.  It now recognises this match in the same light as the abandoned Argentina match of 1953, that is, an abandoned scoreless draw.  We now reflect this in all our records.  And as of 14 October 2009, England will have played 880 official FA recognised matches, not 879.

Ian Kemp, Chelmsford, Essex, U.K., 2 September 2004, on the abandoned 1995  match against the Republic of Ireland:

Hi, I've just been looking at your superb website once again and noticed that you have given the abandoned game v Republic of Ireland in 1995 a match number. Although caps were given, the match has been deemed unofficial. Shouldn't this game be in your unofficial match category as it puts the numbers out of sync for games after this one.  E.g., you have the Liechtenstein game as England's 800th whereas shouldn't it be the Turkey game at Sunderland which was England's 800th game? I also think the programme for the game gave reference to this as well.  I look forward to your response.  Keep up the good work.

PY: We address the disputed official matches, including the abandoned Republic of Ireland match, in an essay posted on the website. The decision to list it as an official match was taken after some consideration  We recognise the solution we reached--after some thought--is not satisfactory to all. 

The reasons for including it are mentioned in the essay. We think it is utterly inconsistent to award caps for the match and yet maintain the match is not official.  (Originally, the F.A. decided not to award caps for the match, but it later reversed itself.)  Furthermore, although we do not rely on it because we differ from FIFA's retroactive desanctification and sanctification of other England matches, FIFA also now regards this abandoned match as official.  

Since the match was abandoned and no result was reached, we do not, however, include the match in our team record computations.  That means our last match number exceeds by one the number of results recorded in our team record computations.  Life is complicated.  Hooligans even make things difficult for record-keepers. 

We have never seen what we would consider an official F.A. statement flatly saying this abandoned match is unofficial.  Some F.A. materials list the match; others do not.  The latest F.A. official history in book form listed it in one place and omitted it in another.  If you or anyone else out there have a considered FA statement saying the match is unofficial, please point us to it.  In the meantime, we list it.

We believe the F.A. may have under consideration the whole question of official versus unofficial matches in the wake of the FIFA decision on what constitutes an official match.  At least the F.A. has not yet responded to that decision.  

Matt Thomas, Colchester, Essex, England, 9 September 2004, on Poland 1 England 2, Paul Robinson replacing David James and Michael Owen: 

I admit to a small level of smugness with Sven finally making 'that' decision and dropping David James. On a personal level anyone with an ounce of compassion must feel for James but unfortunately that is top level sport.

So Robinson might make a couple of mistakes during the rest of the qualifying, well, even that is an improvement on the two a game whilst James was in possession.

Shame for Smith but Defoe showed that passion that we love to see from our international players. I wish the press would leave Beckham alone- he is still quality and I am confident he will show this.

As far as Owen goes, well, he set up several goals during the Euro's and continues to find the goalscoring positions- maybe a bit worrying if he gets few games with R.Madrid, though- To say that he has had his day is ludicrous, though (as some of the press are saying with the comments that the new- being Rooney and Defoe- should take over). I think many forget that he is still only 24! Also with 27 goals in 53 starts and a total of 63 caps he has the potential to overtake both Bobby.C. and Peter.S. with their respective records.

Anyway, enough waffle. I will return when I feel I have more advice for Sven to save his job for him....

PY: Preparing your defence of Robinson in advance, Matt?  We hope Robinson has a better time than James did, but we're rather confident his day of blame will come sooner or later.  He had little to do against Poland, but the one time he was under any kind of pressure at all, he bobbled the ball, although managing to recover it before any damage could be done.  As noted in the earlier exchanges on James, the current crop of keepers suffer from comparison with the superb quality of those who graced England's net until 1990, although even they had their bad moments.  In the absence of that kind of quality, competition for the spot is a  good thing.  

As for Owen, he is certainly not finished at 24, but, as he himself has admitted, he has irretrievably lost some of his speed, both in reaction and afoot, because of repeated injuries, and his off-the-ball game, while bound to improve at Real Madrid if he gets consistent playing time, is still lacking.  Like James, Owen has no claim to a starting spot for England; his performances will tell the tale.  In the meantime, it's comforting to know we have ability like Defoe's available; he has the talent, very rare among English forwards of the past couple of decades, of making room for himself inside a crowded penalty area even when tightly marked.  

Feel free to return any time, whether or not Sven needs your help!

Mrs. C. Ribbens, Bromley, Kent, England, 8 September 2004, on England on television: 

l find it ludicrous that we have to pay to watch our national game on television.  Is this just greed on behalf of the so called FA?

PY: Since the 1980s the game has been taken away from all but those who have sufficient discretionary income to pay inflated ticket prices and exorbitant satellite television fees.  We agree with you that it's absurd that many avid England fans are unable to follow their national team because they cannot afford to watch England matches on satellite television.

Matt Thomas, Colchester, England. 4 September 2004, on David James and Gerrard's substitution after Austria 2 England 2:

Well, well. Should we be surprised? Nope. Will it occur again and again were James to continue playing? Yes.

I refer back to my previous comments [see Forum 2004 - Part 1] where I said we should probably look towards Robinson as the first choice 'keeper. This is not knee jerk but is required.

Every bloody game James makes a basic handling error, and every game his defenders must be suffering from sleep deprivation from their concern of playing in front of him the next day!

Yes, we have a lack of quality, experienced 'keepers but even more reason to give youth the chance (James having proved that he is too inconsistent for internationals). At least we could blame any errors on inexperience and not incapability.

Will we still be discussing this up until- and during- the next World Cup? Yes, because Eriksson, bless him, seems to take too long to make decisions. Unfortunately in international football the 'real' games are few and far between and the difference between winning and losing is so much more acute (being 1 or 3 points tonight). James must go now. Bring in Robinson and let him gain the experience during the qualifiers which, even with a few mistakes, we should still coast through.

P.S. - Gerrard came off because he indicated that Wayne Bridge had been knocked on the achilles and they thought it was him! Is this the managerial equivalent of Andy '2 Yellows' D'Urso blunder? And there was me thinking that only happened to my Sunday League side....

Coldcraft, location not given, 4 September 2004, on Austria 2 England 2: 

What an absolute let down to-nights game was!!!!!  When do we learn that the object of the game is to WIN.  SVEN, for god`s sake get it right - give us a team that can attack and win.  If you cannot do it then GO!!!

PY/CG