A mug’s game

Technically last Satday it was Lesta’s turn. Okay I know I had seen them during the week but that was abroad. And Filbert Way has not yet been graced with the TLF presence this season. And the Mighty Saints were playing in the far east. Not ‘abroad’ far east; just Norfolk.

There were however grim realities weighing heavy on the TLF brow that morning. First it was time to face up to the fact that sometimes the F in TLF should probably stand for the F in Old Fart. Recovery times have increased significantly and TLF was experiencing a severe bout of PTBD – post trip to Bruges disorder. Plus Mr TLF was on the brink of asking whether I was a squatter or a burglar. Time to hunker down and do the domestic bliss thing.

DBT does of course mean, apart from spending quality time with my life partner, that there are choices to be made – full media blackout until final score OR following via the wireless and the twitter, which TLF has almost scientifically proven is unlucky. There is of course a third way – ignore Lesta and concentrate on regular Saints updates via tweets from roving reporter Julie – speedy, witty, biased and generating just the right level of Satday afternoon twitter badinage amongst other Saints absentees.

Unbeknownst to TLF there was a fourth way via the medium of Mr TLF. This is a new and relatively user friendly mode of communication; although it doesn’t seem possible to switch it on or off. It either happens or it doesn’t and you are not in control of your subscription. It is however quick and effective – a hand will appear around the door with a thumb up – this means things are going well for Lesta. This will be followed by the raising of a digit which will indicate the current number of goals scored by the Foxes. Very handy (BOOMBOOM!). The scorer of the goal may also be stated from behind the door. Or perhaps just any old Lesta player and not the goalscorer at all (cue TLF singing homage to man making assist rather than man hitting back of net).

There does seem to be a variation in service depending on the team and the progress of the game. West Ham’s travails at West Brom were reported vocally and mournfully and the TLF response of “Against West Brom! But they have been pants this season,” was probably not my best ever contribution to DBT.

Amends were made via cooking, non-mentioning of the aforementioned unmentionable result for the unhappy Hammers; especially not when compared with the success of both my Cities and also TLF taking seriously the request that Sunday morning tea should NOT be served in the usual mug of choice. I can’t believe how seriously he takes these things. I mean for goodness sake. It’s only a game. Next he’ll be telling me he’s got a lucky shirt that he only washes if his team loses.

Absence making the heart grow fonder Fox

The mug faces an uncertain future.

The mug faces an uncertain future.

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In Bruges

“Maybe that’s what hell is: the entire rest of eternity spent in fu#kin’ Bruges.”
Ray (Colin Farrell) from the film, In Bruges.

It is fair to say that Ray the rookie hitman did not take to Bruges and TLF has helpfully identified a number of crucial areas where a different approach might have meant he enjoyed it that little bit more:

The right send off
You see when TLF departed these shores on her maiden-champions-league-no-really-TLF-is-going-to-watch-Lesta-abroad-and-has-bored-everyone-witless-about-it-all-week voyage, a poet Laureate waved her off. Didn’t know he was a Lesta fan did you?

Sir John shows his true colours

Sir John shows his true colours

The right lucky T-shirt
With the 4-1 spanking by Liverpool the blue polo shirt had finally been condemned to the washing basket. Good for all those in close proximity to TLF as it hadn’t been washed since after that defeat to Arsenal on 14th February (actually that’s worse than I thought). Ray to my knowledge did not allocate a t-shirt to Bruges. Mind you TLF wasn’t totally on form in this area herself; choosing a white shirt might prove to have been an error depending on how results go…..

Of course if Ray did have a lucky t-shirt (and I have only seen the film once so I wouldn’t like to call it either way) it probably wasn’t a replica away shirt from the 1960s. If he had worn that then he would have enjoyed quality banter with some Lesta fans enjoying a drink on their hotel terrace while TLF queued for a barge tour of Bruges. The very same fans whom a bit later he would bump into again in a fine establishment, just off the main square which was purveying a fine range of Belgian beers (although if he bought the coconut one I can understand his general grumpiness as it wasn’t great) and share further banter and good chat.

Mind you I suppose if they had christened him, “the girl on the boat,” like they did me that might have been a bit of a sticking point in their relationship.

The right mode of transport
To my knowledge at no point in the film does Ray eschew (BOOM!) the organised, police escorted 80 minute march to the ground (quite good fun by all accounts) in favour of a lift from the new friends met in the bar (see above). Now that’s where the action was. They, you see have VIP tickets, and it is amazing how much fun you can have in a foreign cab, with two blokes you have only just met (steady!), when their VIP tickets have to be collected from the ground. Because no politie (such a good word for the officers of the law) will believe the VIP ‘story’and so will send the cab on some circuitous route to another checkpoint where this time the politie does believe the ‘story’ but sends us back the way we came to yet more unimpressed politie. There was a moment when we were all genuinely worried that we would never arrive but beer-induced hysteria took over and we entertained ourselves with considering the standard of the Belgian prison cell we were likely to end up in and whether starvation would cause us to kill Nick for his apple – he must have known, why else take a complementary apple from your hotel to a football match!?

I am guessing Ray might have enjoyed the small international incident that was caused when we finally alighted from our cab and it became very clear that the politie were not delighted to see TLF, most definitely not a VIP and resplendent in Lesta colours loitering in what was definitely NOT the away fan end.

The right seat
I doubt Ray would have got a good seat. Bizarrely TLF was the posh bit (that’s all relative at Club Brugge), separated from the rest of the Blue Army by a complete stand. But we did have access to their supporters club bar – not that different to the Saints bar really. And the stewards were all old boys and absolutely lovely – dishing out team sheets destined for the media (sat behind us), to us hoi polloi like there was no tomorrow. Ray might have liked the people I was sat with though – there was a manic ‘we’ve been drinking all day but we are too happy to be fighty and was that really the Champions League anthem we just heard’ kind of a vibe going on.

The right song
Maybe Ray isn’t one for a chant. But I am sure he couldn’t have resisted the charms of the new version of Jamie Vardy’s having a party which went along the lines of:
Keith Vaz is having a party
Bring your poppers and your Charlie!

The right result
Even if everything above hadn’t gone to plan then surely a “pinch me I am still dreaming moment” as you witness your team mark their champions league debut with a win 3-0 means that” the entire rest of eternity spent in fu#kin’ Bruges” is maybe what heaven is.

……Mr TLF isn’t a fan of Bruges either. He says it’s a bit dull. Dunno what he means.

Jan Breydel Fox

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Chilled

And finally.
Good things come to the TLF that waits.
Escape from the FFZ. Not that it was all bad you understand; certainly Sunday’s hangover was testament to the very good wedding that kept me away from non-league football day at Clarence Park (great crowd, rubbish result).
Tuesday 6 September had arrived, the Mighty Saints were playing at home and TLF had a skool nite pass. It needed something special for this momentous breaking of the football duck.

And there he was. In the club shop. Moodily silent. Stood slightly aloof from everyone; not joining in with the badinage (and there is a LOT of badinage available in the shop area). Alluring, sturdy and very, very cool. It was love at first sight.

Oh yes. The lager fridge had arrived.

Je t'aime

Je t’aime

Now that might not seem very momentous but when Thameslink ‘Technical Faults R UsTrains’ had conspired to prevent TLF from witnessing the opening goal (scored just as I came through the turnstiles) then an ice cold beer within paws reach is a welcome slight. Especially when accompanied by a sausage roll the two retailed at a bargain five of your earth pounds.

Suitably refreshed, things were looking up. The next goal was witnessed by yours truly and then it was back to hang out with Mr Fridge at half time. It was then I came across his quieter but no less attractive mate, Mr Tracksuit Top. What happened after we were introduced has to stay between me, him and our resident shop keeper but, “NO Mr TLF I assure you there is nothing new in the wardrobe.” (I’ve hidden it in my study).

In the second half it became clear that it isn’t just goals that are missing from the FFZ, it is the quality terrace chat. The reassuring shouts to a player who has just missed a sitter, “Good try son. Come on head up. Go again!” are quickly followed, sotto voce by, “How the eff did he miss that!?” And who knew that an innocent TLF cycle helmet resting on the terrace could be a source of such entertainment. But I don’t want to spoil you. Just think reference to a grazed helmet in a medical context and let your imagination do the rest.

Some slick forward passing and a ridiculous amount of added on time later (well it was ridiculous until we scored in it) and the Mighty Saints were 4-0 winners and third in the League. It’s good to be back.

Strangely enough the Thameslink late train compensation claim form I have doesn’t make any reference to compensation for missing home goals OR missing Julie’s debut as a turnstile operator. I can only assume that is a misprint and I shall be putting in for suitable recompense.

Where there’s blame there’s a claim Fox

Match stats
St Albans City 4 Poole Town 0
Attendance: 485
Nutritional refuelling: 2 bottles Carslberg, 1 sausage roll (maybe it will be lucky to NOT eat bacon fries this season)
Raffle tickets: 10 losers.
Golden goal: NONE because I was late
Time sat staring at broken down train at City Thameslink Station and get a bit angry: 40 minutes

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On the right track

Technically life in the FFZ (you should know what that is by now) is no laughing matter. But when the latest glitch in the sporting diary is down to being in Edinburgh for the Fringe…well that’s pretty funny.

We weren’t completely football free. As any fule kno, the reason you get your credit card to bleed as it pays for a hotel on the Royal Mile is not so you can luxuriate in top class surroundings while being at the very heart of this iconic City. Noooo, it’s to ensure high quality wifi as you follow the Champions League draw on your iPad. I know. We should have been out seeing the next big thing (actually while I’m about it, can I recommend Matt Winning? Maybe not the biggest next best thing on the comedy circuit but close). TLF should not have been indoors rocking backwards and forwards saying, “Please let us get FC Brugge…Pleeeeease” and getting excited about foreign destinations. But this is new territory for a TLF. The lesser spotted Lesta fan is not used to international travel.

Neither here nor there was exactly how we felt on our way home (I think that might be my first lame segue of the season. Marvellous.), as unlike the speedy Corbyn Special on the way up to Scotland the journey back on the 13:00 from Edinburgh Waverley was coming in at just under 5 hours. Both the Mighty Saints and Lesta were of course playing at home (as seems to be traditional when TLF is north of the border) and having experienced sticky internet connections before TLF sought refuge in the relative safety of ‘no news is good news’ and opted for the lucky media blackout.

Which worked.

BOOM! Lesta get their first win of the season.

BOOM! The Mighty Saints continue their excellent start to the season.

As far as Virgin East Coast are concerned our itinerary looked like this:

14:26 Newcastle  – Howay Pet. TLF should just be getting in her first Stella.

14.39 Durham – Just like St Albans – they’ve got a cathedral. The theoretical Stella would be half consumed.

14.57 Darlington – Just like son of Darlo’s Vic Reeeves, the teams are having a big day out (I know; that one’s a stretch).

15.09 Northallerton – No me neither, but a TLF wouldn’t need to be a genius to spot no one has scored.

15.31 York – YES Min(i)ster!! Theo’s on fire! 1-0 to the Mighty Saints

15.55 Doncaster – Nearish to Sheffield where Jamie Vardy was born. And yes it is 1-0 to Lesta now as well.

16.09 Retford – Where!? But who cares Theo is still on fire! 2-0 Saints.

16.51 Peterborough – It’s the train track where it all happens. Saints have scored and conceded. Lesta have scored, conceded and missed a penalty.

17.44 London King’s Cross – Well TLF isn’t. She’s happy; wins for both her Cities.

If only the journey took as long as it did to type…..

Being a Champions League virgin the last 6 days have made TLF realise that it doesn’t matter how close you follow the group stage draw – chances of getting away match tickets are pretty slim…the joke’s on TLF.

Not-as-International-as-she’d-like-to-be Fox

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Lear of the Rovers

The second weekend of being a FFZ (football free zone) arrives. A double tragedy as it coincides with King Lear (BOOM!) This lack of football is starting to addle the TLF little grey cells or else it was a very odd production…

King Lear, multi-billionaire owner of WSFC (William Shakespeare Football Club) decides to abdicate and divide ownership of his club between his three daughters. When the youngest, Cordelia, refuses to make a public declaration of her love for those live betting adverts of which ITV and SKY are so fond (especially the Ray Winstone ones), she is disinherited and married to Claudio Ranieri without a dowry. The veteran kit man , Eddie Kent defends her and is banished to the Sunday League. The two elder daughters, Goneril and Regan, inherit the club.

Long term but overly superstitious team coach, Gloucester, deceived by his record breaking summer signing, prima donna Edmundio, disinherits his home-grown and loyal club captain Edgar, who is forced to go into hiding to save his life. Lear, now stripped of his power, quarrels with Goneril and Regan about the club’s league position and the conditions of his corporate box and standards of hospitality offered to him and his entourage. In a rage, he goes out into the stormy night, accompanied by his Fool and Kent, now disguised as a St John’s ambulance volunteer. They encounter Edgar, disguised as an escaped club mascot. Gloucester goes to help Lear but is betrayed by Edmundio and captured by Regan and her husband, who as a punishment, put out his eyes. And then as if that wasn’t enough, dress him in Hemel kit.

Lear is taken secretly to the non-league ground of Dover City, where Cordelia has landed with a Blue Army. The blind Gloucester meets – but doesn’t recognise – Edgar, who leads him to Dover. Lear and Cordelia are reconciled but in the ensuing cup tie, are arrested by the sisters’s forces for public disorder acts.

Goneril and Regan are in love with Edmundio, who encourages them both. Discovering this Goneril’s husband forces Edmundio to defend himself against the charge of a failed drugs test. A disguised Edgar arrives to challenge Edmundio to a game of keepy-uppy and after spanking thr backside of his fancy-smancy ‘they-come-over-here’ opponent, reveals himself. Before killing himself for the shame of being beaten by a limited but full of heart English professional, Edmundio reveals that he has ordered a lifetime stadium and travel ban for Lear and Cordelia. He attempts to reprieve the order but it is too late. They are forever condemned to watch Celebrity Big Brother.

PLP Possibly losing the plot (BOOM!) Fox

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Pants!

Remember when Sir Gary of Lineker tweeted about presenting MOTD in his pants if Lesta won the League?

Well actually there was a bit of a cover up (BOOM!) and the full tweet said:

“I’ll present MOTD in my pants if Lesta win the League….and then they lose on the opening day of the season to newly promoted and rather bereft Hull and then just as TLF thinks things can’t get any worse the Mighty Saints lose 3-0 away at Bath.” I will admit that is a few more than the acceptable 140 characters but either way that is what he meant.

TLF was of course, not exactly delighted by this news….but it was sketchy news as TLF was in the signal free zone that is Cropredy and Mr TLF’s updates were a little light on specifics par example, “Your team on telly. Oh dear. Things not good.” Clearly having a vivid imagination and having imbibed then TLF’s thoughts are not of conceding a goal but more like the team coach has been abducted by aliens or it’s just been announced that the entire population was on a massive acid trip last season and Lesta didn’t win the Prem at all – Tipsy TL’s need specifics

Bad news, even when its not quite clear how bad is always that bit more palatable when you’re in the sun with a beer, sitting watching a weekend of cracking music (Madness!, Ralph McTell!, Hayseed Dixie! Fairport! Other bands dear reader that you may not have heard of but take it from TLF most of them were great!), another beer, a cheese cob made by your mum (the best cheese cob in the whole world obvs), another beer and even a packet of bacon fries. As Ralph McTell didn’t say in the follow up to his massive (and only hit) The Streets of London,

“Have you seen the TLF,
In a field near Banbury,
Desperate for news on Twitter,
About her football team.
She’s no time for talking,
About Lesta humiliation,
Things gettin worse,
As St Albans concede.

But how can TLF tell you she is grummmmpppppy
And say for her that the sun don’t shine?
Let me take you by the paw and lead you through the fields of Cropredy,
I’ll show you something to make you change your mind.

Have you seen the TLF,
Sitting in a field in Cropredy,
Sun shining, and with good company.
She’s lots of time for talking,
Might be what she’s drinking.
Hope she’s wearing factor 50,
Or she’ll have a red nose.”

And as it turned out he didn’t mean pants. He meant a rather lame pair of white shorts. The nation deserved better….Or maybe that was better?

McTell Fox

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In the best possible taste

This is the slightly delayed blog that you should have been able to read by Friday at the latest. We apologise for any inconvenience caused – words come easily in a field at a music festival, sufficient signal to access the interweb less so.

In all the worry about new signings and the wringing of paws over the loss of crucial players one key element of a successful season seems to have been overlooked. Has the snackage, the refreshments, the pre and post-match refueling essentials been reviewed? Refreshed even to ensure they keep up with the demands of another season where the opposition will be wiser to the approach that worked so successfully the season before? Do we need to reconsider the formation, have opposition managers sussed us out – are we too predictable? Do we need to inject some youth and pace into a squad that has seen us through some tough times? Do we need to, dare I say it, TINKER?

To an extent, like a manager at a club with megalomaniac owner, a key decision was taken out of TLF’s paws. The heart of TLF’s match day ritual, the trip to Andy the Burger’s van for a crisped up bacon COB, is off. TLF doesn’t know the details but there was a new purveyor of fine fried goods on duty at the opening game of the season. TLF was too discombobulated to test out the new signing but there are tough tests ahead for this new member of the team; can they?
No, scrub that.
Will they crisp the bacon on request?
It has already been noted that like those who went before them they insist on calling a cob a roll but hey I’m not one to expect footballing miracles (I think I have had my lifetime’s allocation of those).

Easing the pain somewhat is the appearance of a cheeky, some might say, precocious new signing in residence at Clarence Park. The SACFC official donut. TLF was initially suspicious; too garish, too ostentatious for my liking – never keen on the flair player. Until the magic words, ‘lemon’ and ‘curd’ were uttered and small children were left scattered in TLF’s wake as I staked my claim. Excitement levels were such that I only remembered to pay for it at half time.

This season's key signing

This season’s key signing

Like your reliable centre half who has just signed a new 3 year contract, the bacon fries and ‘that German beer’ ensure some continuity. And they go down a treat in the resplendent surroundings of the recently redecorated club house; new paint (two tone blue and white), new ceiling and floor tiles and some brand new prints. All funded by proceeds from the SBYS race night and installed by brilliant SBYS volunteers. All light and airy it looks bigger and seems to make us all look a bit thinner (might come in handy if the donut thing becomes a regular feature). Even the ladies loo door has been replaced – although it should maybe come with a health warning as I gave it the same weighty shove that was previously required and almost decapitated a woman using the hand dryer.

On the pitch things weren’t looking too shabby either, with two cracking goals against Concord giving the Mighty Saints a winning start to the season.

Twenty four hours later and it was time for Lesta City’s first trip to the new Wemberlee and first ever Charity Shield (as it was called in old money). I know that technically it wasn’t their first, but 1971 at Filbert Street for random reasons including Arsenal’s unavailability and the FA not liking Leeds does not properly count. Clearly the donut had gone to TLF’s head as all of a sudden a cheeky Italian rose is called up from the sub’s bench, replacing the veteran lager as the pre-match drink of choice.

More traditional are TLF’s hopes for the game ahead, “I’d just like to avoid humiliation.”

As it turns out there is no humiliation on the pitch, although I think Mr TLF might have questioned the off-pitch humiliation factor of TLF’s fox ears. The defeat is, in the grand scheme of things, an easy one to stomach (BOOM!), being all about a ‘good day out’. Not even wine consumed will deaden the memory of joining in with the chant ‘Champions of England’ as we step onto the platform at Wemberlee Park tube station or the celebrations when we equalised, “Lesta just scored at Wemebrleeeeeeeeee” I bounced and screamed at Mr TLF. He knew that but tired and emotional Foxes can sometimes do no more than state the bleedin’ obvious.

Post match recovery is aided by sausage COBS and a return to the more traditional beverage of choice, lager. TLF – keeping the winning formula going on the plate, if not always on the pitch.

Bon
appétit!

Egon Fox

Just glad to be ear (BoomBoom!)

Just glad to be ear (BoomBoom!)

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Hard Times or Great Expectations?

TLF is in a TIZZ
TLF is not MARDY
TLF has not GOT A COB ON (and if that doesn’t prove it’s the right word I don’t know what does as ‘having a roll on’ would sound like an expression of your deodorant preferences or possible something a little ruder)
Just in a TIZZ
Or perhaps even in a Chuzzlewit?
Or for the more London-centric Mr TLF
In a two ‘n eight.

But what the Dickens (BOOM!) I hear you cry, surely TLF should be in state of unbridled TLF joy? The football season, the next chapter in a tale of two cities is after all, almost upon us. Except it all feels a bit uncertain, a bit odd.

On the one paw, things look bleak; housing (BOOM!) as I do, fears that there might not be another season of rambling, quippage, whimsy, bad punning and literary football mash ups left in TLF.

On the other paw, if you pick wick your way through the local papers (pushing my luck there I warrant you) things look bright on the Clarence Park front. Arsenal’s third worst ever player (long story), Ian Allinson, avoider of relegation, owner of proper football manager apparel and all round genius has now had a whole summer to shape his squad, and set the tone for what is expected. As a result there is just a whiff of confidence about the prospects for the Mighty Saints.

And then on another other paw (see; paws much handier than hands if that’s possible – more of them to use in debate) there is just the utterly uncomfortable non-comfort zone that is supporting the reigning Premier League Champions. TLF should be dusting self down after another spectacular flirt with relegation not trying to manage giddiness levels at the idea of first trip to the new Wemberlee for Lesta and a first time in the Charity Shield (as we called it when I were a cub) and a first time in the (gulp) Champions League. And as any fule kno the number of good times for Lesta City are inversely proportional to the number of bad times so chances are it’s all going to go to eff and be really miserable.

But let’s paws (BOOM!) for a moment. As a wise author once told TLF (well in my head he did) “This is a world of action, and not for moping and droning in.”

There will be new adventures, new grounds and new people. Surely a rich source of inspiration awaits? And in any case looking at the TLF schedule, a Festival-Theatre-Holiday-Wedding roller coaster of weekends during August and September means that with one early exception TLF won’t be writing about football anytime soon.

And of course previously never experienced humiliations and angst are always good for crow barring in black humour and random Shakespearean tragedy references. The potential for comparing Saintly success with Lesta lamentation should not be underestimated. Defeat and misery will refresh parts of the blog that positive football stories cannot always reach.

Season 2016/17?
Could be the best of times.
Could be the worst of times.
Bring it on and prepare for rambling on a European scale.

And maybe even some larks.

Pip pip!

Charles Fox

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He who Eders, wins

I don’t think it is a phrase you hear tous les jours but ‘the tournament gets the final it deserves’ seems appropriate after last night’s underwhelming game. Much like the tournament itself it was average fare; you weren’t on the edge of your seat and just as the occasional tantalising amuse bouche of footballling skill and daring would pique your interest, it was momentary and you were back to school dinner stodge football.

That is not to decry Portugal’s success. They have been tenacious and resolute, well managed by the wily old (cliché alert) Fernando Santos, although it would be a step far to agree with the actor…sorry defender Pepe’s description of the team, “That’s what the Portugese are about: humility, work, overcoming hardship.” It’s true; rolling around on the floor like you have been run over by a herd of raging wildebeest (very common in European football stadiums I hear) when actually no one really touched you has always been my definition of humility.

And all this without the other, slightly prettier Pantomime Villain that is Cristiano Ronaldo who limped off, distraught after 25 minutes. Much as je n’aime pas la Cristiano he did go up in my estimation as he ignored the HUGE moth that landed on his head when he was lying injured. My leg could have been hanging off and if a moth landed sur ma tete I would be leaping up and down shouting, “Getitoff Getitoff Getitoff!!!!!!” like the big brave TLF that I am.

France were unable to take advantage of CR’s grand depart, having left their inventiveness and creativity on the team coach. And then Portugal did to France what Greece did to them 12 years ago, squeezed the space and were relentless. The aforementioned Pepe might be un peu of a d1ck but he did his defensive duties superbly. Winning was a step too far for France and perhaps a relief to the rest of us – safe in the knowledge that there would no further recycling of the weekend’s press coverage which see-sawed between the “victory-will-help-heal-this –country-still-in-shock” line and the “ people-who-say-victory-will-help-heal-this –country-still-in-shock-are-kidding-themselves-it’s-only-football.” Face it, sport can unite people for a moment, but big tournament wins are fleeting in their impact. (SEE I am doing it now!)

I would suggest for a future tournament that France consider adding yellow spots to their white change strip. If only so that we could all sing “He wore an itsy bitsy teeny-weeny yellow polka dot Matuidi.” Sorry that’s been in my head since the first game all those weeks ago.

Eh bien, nous sommes fini. Temps pour la tableau mural to come off the wall, to put the tournament T-shirts in the wash and relinquish control of the television scheduling Chez TLF.

It hasn’t been something to always ecrire home about admittedly; for TLF too many teams and too many jours de repose. Ingurland were a predictable disappointment, led (I use the word loosely)by the highest paid coach in the tournament, whose main tactics seemed to be to employ rien de tactic and play to his players’ weaknesses as often as possible.

The other home nations were an utter joy – some great perfomances and fans who seemed to realise that it is not essential to spend the hours between football matches chanting about past conflicts that are nothing to do with football and where a lot of people died.

Every tournament needs its ‘everyone’s favourite second team’ and Iceland stepped up beardfully to the plate. From really annoying Ronaldo in their obstinacy to let him score to their humiliation of Ingurland they kept the interest up and fair play to Alyson Rudd and a couple of other Times colleagues who predicted that the men from the fijords would be the surprise package of the tournmanet.

This year’s tournament mascot,’Super Victor’ was noticeably absent at all times (apart from on offical over-priced UEFA tat), whether this has anything to do with the fact that Super Victor is the name of a best selling sex toy in America, I couldn’t say.

Being in France was, of course the icing sur la gateau pour TLF. Not quite the chilled out, informal, footballing vacance that was in TLF’s petite tete when booking those tickets two years ago but that’s the way of the world these days. Lens was an utter blast and while they were rubbish on and off the pitch, hearing Russia’s national anthem belted out in Lille’s stadium, with the roof closed was spine-tingling.

Financially things are even – Mr Jennings probably just edged it but TLF’s victorie in la sweep de stake has bought things back into the black.

Time for TLF to get sur sa bicyclette and stop this self-inflicted torture of a blog a day ; doesn’t have the same effect as une pomme per jour I can tell you. Normal service will be resumed in August.

A bientot!

Non je ne regrette rien
Edith Fox

Resultat – La finale
France 0 Portugal 1 (aet)

Malcolm and TLF en Lille, suitably refreshed.

Malcolm and TLF en Lille, suitably refreshed.

TLF's European HQ - aka the dining room table

TLF’s European HQ – aka the dining room table

Posted in France 2016 | Leave a comment

Marchons, Marchons!!!

A minor miracle has occurred. TLF will finally be able to watch a major tournament final and wear the shirt of a finalist at the same time. A first. This might of course be due to the rather random nature of my shirt buying – step forward the Honduras away shirt 2014 and a lack of German/Spanish/Argentinian/Brazilian items within the TLF wardrobe, rather than the exhibition of a cruel streak by the Footballing Gods of Fate (FGFs)

Fortunately for TLF and a whole nation those FGFs were on form last night, smiling down beatifically and chucking some largesse in the direction of les Bleus. They might pronounce it Lurve but there wasn’t any of that to be found last night for Germany’s coach Joachim Low.

Not that it was all down to FGF intervention of course. For all of Germany’s fluidity and calm possession they could not score. France had the confident goal scorer Griezeman who didn’t crumble under the pressure of taking that 45th minute penalty. Fair play to the eagle-eyed ref (Italian I note #justsaying) who spotted the arm of Schweinsteiger when no one else did. They also had a much improved defence, although their midfield could have done with a spot of Kante (But I would say that wouldn’t I?).

While triumph went to those in blue, the air did not turn blue in acknowledgement. Another first last night was the venue for semi final viewing – Auntie Dot’s. Ninety and most definitely spry, but not very footbally and not very sweary. The former she coped with brilliantly, the latter TLF had to refrain from. My hastily assembled special auntie football cursing lexicon was thorough:
Fool – w*anker
Rubbish – b8llocks
Idiot – tw*t
Flipping heck – fookin hell
Poor – utter sh1t

But the words just aren’t so satisfactory; particularly when the stakes are high. And swearing vicariously does not work – ‘amusing’ expletive laden texts from friends, who were aware of my dilemma, did not fall into the definition of ‘supportive’. More like ‘inflammatory’ or ‘TLF bait’.

Normal swearing service will be resumed this weekend. Four weeks after the rather slow and ponderous party started, vingt-quarte have been reduced to deux and after a month of relationship threatening football and bankruptcy inducing gambling it all comes down to Sunday night. No faffing about with 3rd place play-offs. Non; pas de tout.

Sunday approaches – chill your beers, purchase your snackage, cuddle up with Sir Gary of Lineker and Thierry, tune out Alan Shearer and lockdown the remote control. It is the FINAL.

Hosts versus underdogs, who when they were hosts, 12 years ago, lost in the final to the underdogs Greece (keep up!). It’s not quite what TLF envisaged when referring to 12 year rule earlier this week (that’s where rank outsiders – Denmark, Greece in the past – win the tournament every 12 years) but it is making me nervous. Ronaldo is a winner and leading Portugal to their first major trophy would be the panner-cle of his career. (Yes I am afraid the cheese puns are stilgoington).

But….
A host nation expects.
And so does a TLF.
I didn’t learn their national anthem for nothing vous connais.
Don’t let me down chaps or I will greve.

Allez Les Bleus!!

Resultat d’http://thelostfox.org/?p=1244&preview=truehier
Germany 0 France 2

Sunday’s fixture – Il ne peut y en avoir qu’un!
LE FINAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
France v Portugal8p m, Stade de France, Paris

Les phrases francaises essentielles de TLF

As sober as a judge:
Sobre comme un chameau (As sober as a camel)
As in: TLF is unlikey to be sobre comme un chameau a le soir de Dimanche….Plus ca change…..

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