[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”


“Percolate that body heat”

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