[sic] Magazine

Leathermen, Passport Controls and The British Media

Cast your minds back to 1987 or thereabouts. Hi-NRG act Man 2 Man rupture the charts with the track “Energy is Eurobeat”, produced by the Right Honourable, Man Parrish. The lyrics captured a flavour of continental Europe as it was at the time, bathed in fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor and teetering on the brink of an AIDS epidemic.

“Dig that Italian boys they’re neat .
Those German girls they’re soooooo elite.
Them French will love my brains out with the rhythm. “

Fans of theirs, self included, will also recall that they had “just got in tonight after a transatlantic flight” and were “eager for a little love and dance action”. At the time, the Italians, French and Germans might have felt themselves stereotyped. How can we

“Swing those continental feet”

and

“Percolate that body heat”

Owens.jpg” height=”200″ width=”150″ />For an example of media hostility, take the recent England-Germany football friendly and the rank commentary that accompanied it. After England fans had booed the re-worded-to-make-it-more-friendly German national anthem and had calmly retaken their seats, the commentator chose to ratchet up the tension. “This isn’t a friendly”, we were told. And later, “this is the stadium, of course, were England players gave the infamous Nazi salute”. All this was rounded off with a mention of the 1936 Olympics staged in which black athlete Jesse Owens (pictured left) outstripped his aryan counterparts in front of keen Schalke FC fan, Adolf Hitler. Keen-eyed historians of a dodgy political bent, together with casual racists, will be quick to point out that they didn’t have random drug testing back then.

It’s a wonder, therefore, that Channel Fuehrer haven’t commissioned a documentary in which Owens corpse is exhumed and subjected to rigorous doping tests in an effort to validate crackpot Nazi racial theory, I can’t see Simon Schama presenting that one, given his Jewish ancestry. It’s hard to envisage Schama, but let’s run with the idea, resplendent in corduroy, tracing his finger over a tombstone bearing the heroic dead athlete’s name, giving a piece to camera …”Owens it was who gave the lie to Hitler’s bogus doctrine, showing up his regime for what it was, an obscenity based on an untruth. That is – until now. For such was Owen’s desire to win and disprove the Nazi myth, many on the fringes of murky historical revisionism are starting to question whether he wasn’t loaded up to his tits on Nandrolone or some other shit… Ok guys – bring in the JCB and take care with those flowers will you. Actually, you can chuck a few over here, it’s the mother-in-law’s birthday next week and it’ll save me going to Interflora. All I’ll need to do is write another card out. They don’t call this the credit crunch for nothing.”

So we’re getting sidetracked a little. The jibes, mentioned quite some way back now, came despite the unfurling by the German fans of a conciliatory banner intended for their opposite numbers. “Thank you for inventing the beautiful game” it said. A lovely gesture. During the following days the cynics spat back: “What they actually meant was: Well you did at least invent it, we then perfected it and turned it into an art form… ha ha ha .. you twats” .

The Germans of today are forward-looking, amiable, modern Europeans, able to embrace previous rivals and reach out a hand, all the while respecting international boundaries. If the troops at the Front in World War 1 could forget their differences and have a kick-about on Christmas Day; why is it so hard ninety years later ? Incidentally, England lost that game after extra-time and penalties. A fact that should not draw too much criticism. You try kicking a severed head between two posts connected by barbed wire in three foot of sinking mud when you’re suffering from a combination of trenchfoot, dysentery, not to mention a nasty sore throat. Chances are you’re going to spoon it wide and then shit yourself uncontrollably. That said, had our war heroes spent a little less time writing graphic poetry depicting the horrors of war, time they could have spent practising penalty shoot-outs, we might never have lost that game. I mean, who wants to read about limbs flying about, chlorine gas attacks and army rations? It’s bad enough having to study it for O Level.

Perhaps, when Germany next play in England, our fans can unfurl a massive portrait of Rudi Voeller (pictured left) bearing the message, “Welcome to London. You might want to check out the state-of-the-art Jubilee Line Extension” – in gothic script to make it easier to understand. Other banners would provide handy tourist information such as “The Ibis Hotel near Euston Station offers a very good continental breakfast. Enjoy your stay” or “Waterloo station has a Pret a Manger which means ‘Ready to Eat’ in French.”

Another way of improving the atmosphere at games would be to have a delegation selected at random from the opposing sets of supporters to perform a group handshake in the style of the national teams, just after the booing of the anthems and prior to the kick off. These chosen few would wear symbolic national dress. So Lederhosen for the Germans and Morris Dancing costumes for the English. Due to the proximity of the team mascots, all fans would be vetted to ensure that none of them are registered sex offenders. They would also agree to submit a DNA sample and sign up for the government’s new ID card scheme, an excellent way of forcing them on an unwitting public. It’s also a pre-emptive measure. The last thing you want prior to an International, friendly or otherwise, is a child’s special day ruined after being interfered with by a slavering pervert, the whole thing being captured live on Setanta Sports. That’s not going to go down well with viewers and would prove difficult to handle for the commentators, reduced, as they would be, to making apologetic speeches to the watching public. “Well it looked perfectly innocent, Brian, started with a handshake and a ruffle of the hair but clearly the fourth official spotted something more sinister. Now the young lad’s in tears and what can we say to the fans watching back home? These are the sort of scenes we thought had been banished from football for good, if indeed they were ever a part of it..

Apologies too to our sponsors, who do not in any way condone sexual acts on children under a certain age. Let’s hope this thing is a one-off. A sordid little affair we can consign to the history books. Now time for a quick commercial break before the referee blows his whistle, just time to make yourselves a quick cup of tea and reflect on what you’ve just witnessed..

These potential measures are not without their imagined difficulties. If you want to change attitudes and bring people close together, sometimes you have to take risks. If all else fails you can always repair the damage with a banner. And perhaps just once, our media, ranging from TV pundits down to humble scribes can talk of Germany without dragging up Hitler and the sodding war. Hell, I think I managed to pull it off.

Words : Gary Stanton

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