Taking a somewhat dim view of the New Zealand national cricket team‘s recent tour of England, David Mitchell aka Peep Show’s Mark Corrigan (above) writes in Saturday’s Guardian, “everyone’s thinking, “if those guys were really good at sport, they’d be in the rugby team.” Thankfully, Mitchell wasn’t assigned to cover the England/US soccer friendly earlier in the week.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this attitude to New Zealand is justified. They genuinely are a decent side who have beaten England plenty of times (although not that often in England) but that just doesn’t seem to matter. Fundamentally I don’t think enough of us care how good New Zealand are at cricket – and they probably don’t care much in return.
It’s not an age-old clash, England against New Zealand – there’s no ancient rivalry, not much post-colonial bitterness, no history of war, it’s just two countries that both think the other is kind of fine. In the rugby they’ve managed to pep it up with the haka and other Maori stuff but in the cricket there’s just no story. And people crave stories in sport – a proper narrative like in a film: a pacy start, an exciting jeopardy-filled middle and then a happy ending, just like the Ashes in 2005. What a shame they made that lousy sequel.
Manchester United have just got to the end of a great narrative: 50 years since the tragedy of the Munich air disaster and 40 years since they first won a European Cup they are once again the pre-eminent club in Europe if not the world. I don’t like football but even I can see that, the tedium of all the actual matches aside, this is a story that has everything – including potentially, if the fans take my advice, an ending. Yes, now is definitely the time to stop supporting Manchester United.
I mean, what are they going to do next year? It’s either going to be repetitive or disappointing. The credits are rolling, the story is at an end; put down your popcorn and leave the cinema. People talk about supporting clubs “through thick and thin” but what they mean is “thin and thick” (assuming thick is good and thin is bad, like penises rather than pancakes) – no one wants to see triumph and then disaster; they want it the other way round; that’s how nice stories work.