On Ukraine

This was on The Daily Mash website about a week ago, and it was funny – very funny – then. But now, seven days on, it seems worryingly prophetic. It’s still making me laugh though.


THE parallels with the First World War are totally doing a historian’s head in, it has been confirmed.

Julian Cook, professor of early 20th Century history at Roehampton University, has admitted he dreads reading the newspapers because ‘it is just one massive headfuck after another’.

He said: “It’s got to the stage where my wife won’t let me speak. All I’m allowed to do is point at the front page of the Guardian while looking at her with an expression of sheer horror.

“We have a strongly nationalistic, strategically significant eastern European country deciding its fate, while three empires stand waiting in the wings, rattling their sabres. It is freaking me the fuck out.”

He added: “I talk to my historian pals and they’re like, ‘no way, that’s totally what I was thinking’. And then we all shout ‘powder keg’ in unison and have a bit of a giggle.

“It relieves the tension, but seriously, we’re all terrified.”

Professor Cook said the fact it was also the 100th anniversary of the First World War was ‘spooky’.

“Honestly, you want to try being a historian at the moment. Mental.”

If WWIII does break out, we’ll be the last place on earth to know, thanks to the intriguing third test against Australia and the murder trial of some athlete or other dominating the local news.

Oleg some distance from reality

So yes, England beat Ukraine and head happily into the quarter finals at Euro 2012 with absolutely no controversy surrounding their passage. Well, except for that perfectly legitimate goal scored by Marko Devic and not given by Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai.

Here’s the screenshot of that moment:

And here’s what Ukraine coach Oleh Volodymyrovych “Oleg” Blokhin said about it:

We scored a clean goal in the 63rd minute, as the ball crossed the goal line by over a metre.

Now, while I have heaps of sympathy with Blokhin and Ukraine (cos remember I have experience of this stuff here and here plus loads of other times I didn’t bother to document), I was unaware of the measurement of a Ukrainian Metre, which appears to be about twenty times smaller than a usual metric metre. Perhaps some hangover from the Soviet Union?

Incidentally, at the same press conference, Blokhin also had a pop at a journalist , saying:

Let’s go outside and have a man conversation.

Presumably, such man conversations involve a great deal of posturing, bravado and comparison of the length of their members; the size of which is something Ukrainian guys are famed for, although it now seems that they may have been measuring in local centimetres, thus diminishing the statue of their claims (and other things) somewhat.

Presumably there’s a Ukrainian Kilometre as well, then? Visitors to that country must think it’s HUGE, when Kiev to second city Kharkiv is listed as 9600km. That’s, like, bigger than Africa (but not if you measure Africa in Ukrainian kilometres, obviously).

But back to reality. Three things to ponder here:

1. Yes. There should be goal line technology in place and only now (that England have been advantaged by it) has Sepp Blatter seemingly woken up to that fact.
2. Were England cheating by having two goalkeepers on the field of play? Sky Sports suggests that yes, they were:

3. If the goal had stood and the match had finished 1-1, England would have gone through and Ukraine would not have gone through: pretty much exactly what happened anyway.

Thank you, Cape Town

Spotted at the Netherlands v Cameroon match the other night:

Even the fans whose teams aren’t here are having a good time.

And I can see why. I gave the Cape Town Fan Mile a go for this game and I have to say that it was superbly organised and there was a great vibe along the whole route. Great shows, bands, bars and more.
You can see my photos of the evening on flickr.