To say last night took the wind out of my sails is a vast understatement. I felt physically sick at the end of the game, a feeling not helped by the vision of a horrid triumvirate of egos smiling away on our screens in the bowels of the Stade de France as Sarkozy, Domenech and… sorry, just had to hold off from vomiting for a second there… Ged Houllier laughed about how the plucky Irish had been undone by cheating.
Good god, can we not catch a break?
Despite the earlier post, and despite the fact that right now I hope France crash out of the World Cup in the first round with a spate of injuries and diseases along with one, possibly two of William Gallas’ legs amputated along the way, most likely those feelings will pass with time. Henry did what most players would do, or least most players as clever as he is would do; it’s horrible that it happened but begrudgingly understandable. His reputation will be tarnished well beyond next summer though, and for a man as evidently egotistical as the Barcelona man, you’d imagine that will hurt.
One thing that won’t pass in a few months or decades even, is the feeling of disgust at Martin Hansson and his assistant referee. In amongst all of game’s aftermath what really makes me ill is the image of Hansson – who in fairness had a top notch game otherwise – pointing to his side, treating the Irish players like children and claiming he was “100 per cent certain” there was no handball involved. He wasn’t. He lied.
A man paid very well do to a job that has huge financial implications told a lie in the middle of the biggest moment of his career. His linesman bottled it to boot. They refused to go against the flow of an 80,000 strong crowd, and if they say anything else that’ll be more lies. As Trapattoni said today, it was the referee who should have sought out Henry, not the other way around.
The game, the cheating, and the frankly disgraceful officiating have been covered elsewhere and let’s face it we all have the same opinion – even the readers of Le Monde have the same opinion – Ireland deserved to go through, but as Snoop said in The Wire, “deserve ain’t got nothin to do with it”. And unfortunately, Snoop is right.
There’s something about Miriam… and Gilesey
After the match of course came the TV dissection and one thing it proved is that if there’s one man alive who wishes that the internet had never been invented, it has to be Johnny Giles.
After 30 minutes of going through the mechanics of our missed chances, whether Henry ‘meant’ it and what would we say if the ‘ball had been on the other hand’ as it were, Billo piped up with an email they’d just gotten in from a woman named Miriam who said that Johnny’s views were “patronising”; that Henry (or “Anrae” as Johnny pronounces it) coldly meant his handball that lead to the French equaliser.
Johnny rolled his eyes and wondered how he could politely tell Miriam that she was wrong. Indeed, you could see him wondering how we had come to a time when Miriam was allowed to even get involved in a conversation between a Leeds legend, a Liverpool legend and… well Eamon Dunphy. Anyone who has listened to Gilesey’s guffaws at some short-sighted fans’ opinions during his Newstalk slot on Thursday nights will know Johnny has little time for fools.
“Miriam right” said Eamon, unsure of what she was right about but seemingly delighted that this might goad his colleague into a reaction. Giles, vaguely agitated but seeing Dunphy’s bait for what it was, just told people to listen to what he was saying. A complaint from Maurice in Churchtown followed, aimed this time at Souness, leading Dunphy to inquire, like a spurned lover, “is nobody complaining about me?”
Back to Miriam though, and as much as she has a right to her views you’d have to hope – and Giles certainly does – that RTE don’t go down the road of Sky and others by putting weight into the opinion of emails and texts from irate fans. We tune into the national broadcaster’s soccer coverage because of the expert opinions it presents us with. We may not be going to the World Cup but with this team in place we’ll still be entertained for a month solid next summer.
Miriam, Maurice and Martin Hansson can go elsewhere if they don’t like it.