Ray King: The World Cup

Posted on 23rd July 2010 | in Community

When, together with the 28 members of the England squad way back in 1956 we landed at Johannesburg airport, South Africa, we were greeted by a party of South African whites, not a black face among them, except in the distance. We were told, “Do not fraternize with the black people or you will be arrested.”

During our 12 weeks touring this beautiful country where we played 18 games, winning every one, we completely ignored the demands of those arrogant whites and spoke to every black person whenever the opportunity arose. Many of them were charming and extremely articulate.

What a contrast to witness the wonderful welcome afforded to the current participants of the World Cup. Every one of the welcoming contingent was black!

On the football
In my opinion England’s performance must improve on their initial match against the USA by 100% if they wish to qualify for the last 16. Franz Beckenbauer, former world cup player and manager, put it in perspective when he accused the England team of going backwards under Fabio Capello and brandishing them a ‘kick and rush’ team.

I personally wouldn’t go to such an extreme, but against the USA who weren’t exactly high profile opponents, once again they did not perform as a balanced unit and several players underperformed, particularly Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard. Goalkeeper Robert Green took pride of place joining the ranks of David Seaman, David James and Brad Carson who have all made dreadful blunders during international games, but Green’s howler has to be the worst of all.

As a former keeper, perhaps I should be sympathetic towards these players, but I’d be lying if I said I was. They are multi-millionaires, receiving expert training and coaching, (a luxury I never had) and to make schoolboy errors such as this cannot be condoned. The ‘frying pan’ gloves they wear are nothing more than a hindrance.

How on earth can they feel the ball with such monstrosities? During my early career, I never wore gloves, even when the ball became greasy, but I did wear a thin pair following my broken wrists – I don’t think it made much difference.

There has been much publicity about the nature of the ball. Players complaining of its unpredictability – difficult to control, but from what I have seen so far, there has been no evidence of that. Even the old leather ball would swing when least expected but then most players look for excuses – I know which ball I’d prefer.

It is interesting to note the number of commentators covering the games – ex players cashing in once again, having already accumulated gargantuan wealth – nice work if you can get it. If England doesn’t survive their group, they should lose a year’s salary.

Ray

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