Tony Gillan: I’d choose Sunderland beating Watford than England winning the 2018 World Cup

Jermain Defoe scores for England.  Picture by FRANK REID
Jermain Defoe scores for England. Picture by FRANK REID
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There are plenty of reasons for Sunderland supporters, as well as fans from a host of other clubs, to be completely indifferent to the fortunes of the England national side.

For what it’s worth, England are my team when it comes to international football and I want them to win when they play. But only about as much as I want to win when I play darts in Chaplin’s.

Whereas I have never quite got over certain Sunderland defeats from years ago (the 2004 FA Cup semi-final comes crashing back to mind), I can’t help but find England’s worst days rather amusing (last year’s debacle against Iceland being one such instance).

I was pleased for Jermain Defoe when he scored in Sunday’s unremarkable encounter. But the bigger considerations were that he didn’t sustain an injury and, depressingly, that his success increases his chances of making another World Cup.

“Depressingly” because the bait of a major international tournament makes his departure from Sunderland in the event of their relegation a near-certainty; if it wasn’t already.

But what turns indifference to the national team into an active disassociation is some of the people who follow it.

I attended England’s intensely boring friendly with Australia at the Stadium of Light 10 months ago. The sight of people watching footy dressed as medieval knights should rotate anyone’s stomach.

Additional embarrassment was caused by the “band.” I have yet to encounter anyone outside their membership who doesn’t hate them.

There are several ground regulations at the SOL that could and should have prohibited their entry. None of them were implemented, which was quite disgraceful.

If you think the previous paragraph was not entirely serious: you’re wrong.

But it’s in games against Germany that the England fans reach their zenith of cringiness. To compensate for perpetual footballing inferiority, it is deemed necessary to refer to World War Two.

This is because it is 72 years since this country was truly important.

During Germany’s stroll past England in the 2010 World Cup, television cameras occasionally panned away from the humiliation on the pitch to give the world another opportunity to snigger at miserable half-wits in Spitfire pilot costumes.

It may have been for the wrong reasons, but at least they got a laugh by doing something that in itself was about as funny as Ant and Dec.

And so to last Wednesday in Dortmund. As every country has a better national anthem than England, it has become a matter of course to make idiotic chants while the opposition’s tune is played.

So this was duly done prior to the latest defeat to a country that can’t even be bothered to reciprocate the hatred.

We can be grateful that there was no repeat performance when Lithuania came to Wembley on Sunday.

However, this is probably attributable to the Spitfire brigade not knowing the first thing about Lithuania.

It should be stressed that, as always, cretinous behaviour is confined to a minority. Yet it still adds to the increasing ambivalence towards the national team. In fact it is only ambivalence at best.

Put it another way. I have already said I prefer the national side to do well; but presented with the hypothetical choice of either England winning the 2018 World Cup, or Sunderland beating Watford on Saturday; then what?

It’s three points at Vicarage Road every time for me.