Boys' own World Cup was just too full of balls

9th July 2010 at 01:00

It is high noon. The sun beats down on a primary school playground that offers little in the way of shade. And in the baking dustbowl that is our football field, home to several already bitter rivalries, there is a brooding belief that what must be, must be.

Tension mounts. By five past the hour, several challenges have been thrown down and competing packs circle each other. This is a dangerous time. It is the ritual marking out of territories around whose disputed borders the alpha males begin to strut their stuff. They have picked teams and are looking for a fight. There is every chance they will find one.

I never thought I would hear myself say this, but I am glad the World Cup is almost over. It is supposed to be a celebration of all that is good about sport: a uniting of differences under the banner of football; a coalition of talent to surpass all coalitions; a rainbow of nations brought together in the Rainbow Nation.

Before it all kicked off, the children coloured in flags, traced countries, counted to ten in every known language, named capitals and pulled faces at traditional dishes. Finally, each class drew out its very own nation, whose fortunes they would identify with in the spirit of friendly footballing rivalry. After that it was, "Cry God for Harry, England and ... sacre bleu! My class have drawn France!"

There was a brief moment of pre-tournament tension when Ryan (alpha male 1) threatened to bang out Nathan (alpha male 2) for not drawing England. Before Nathan could get his retaliation in first, I explained that in order to avoid arguments, England were not included in the draw. And anyway, France has almost as many Premiership players in their squad as we have.

An uneasy peace turned out to be temporary. By mid-lunchtime there had been several pitch invasions, Spain had declared war on Brazil, Italy had surrendered to Nigeria, and Argentina had split into five separate teams, each captained by a different Lionel Messi.

On Friday June 25, two days before the goal that disallowed gave the Germans revenge for that 1966 goal that was, our School World Cup is abandoned. Wayne Rooney (Ryan), having taken on French nationality, has head-butted Frank Lampard (Nathan), who has also taken on French nationality, in an argument over who should take a disputed penalty against Uruguay.

They think it's all over! It is now. At last I can go home and watch real football in the pub.

"I have two alpha males vying to be top dog," I complain to a friend while queuing for lager.

He sympathises. "I had two Jack Russells like that. Cost me a fortune in dog training classes and doggy Ritalin. Even tried a doggy psychologist. No success whatsoever."

"So you reckon the aggression between the alpha males in my class is incurable?"

"Difficult to say. I had to take extreme measures to cure my dogs."

"What did you do?"

"I had their bollocks cut off."

Steve Eddison, Key stage 2 teacher, Sheffield.

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