Published: 01 July 2010
by RICHARD OSLEY
THERE is a simple, linear equation in football and if we had all done the math(s) before the World Cup started, we would have known England were doomed, doomed I say, from the outset.
The bigger the headphones around a player’s head as they come off a team coach, the more likely they will underperform, flatter to deceive, go home early in a crashing haze of tinny dance music.
Some of the England players, sadly, had headcans bigger than their heads as they got off the bus at Bloemfontein. Result: a smashing by Germany.
And yet it would have all been OK if they had only taken Theo Walcott. I mean, why-de-why didn’t they take Theo to South Africa? With his innocent lil’ face. He wouldn’t hide his ears behind a couple of teapots. He wouldn’t answer back to Capello. He doesn’t care about the size of his stereo, his car or the shade of his WAG’s smeared-on tan. He’s a nice boy. He would have given his all.
Yet, AXED in tabloid terms by Capello almost at the check-in desk, the Arsenal forward instead has had to think about something else to do on his summer holidays.
Fly-fishing? Rambling? More likely, writing the next in his series of kids books. Already in the shops, and, presumably from this week, selling better than red and white vuvuzelas, are his first two children’s novels. T.J. and the Hat-Trick and T.J. and the Penalty – based loosely on his soccery experiences as a boy when our hero was also nicknamed T.J.
The tales are all about a kid football teams’ adventures. In The Penalty, big blocker Jamie eats too much stodgy food, gets too unfit for the team and needs Theo – I mean T.J. – to convince him to get back in shape and win his place back on the Parkview. An inspirational PE teacher does some top-notch inspiring in Hat-Trick. It’s all written with a better turn of phrase than most of the hacks who gobble down the complimentary cups of chips in the Emirates each week. And it’s a lot of fun for the kiddios, I would have loved them when I was seven – full of “balls flashing past the keeper”.
Ma and Pa will nevertheless be a bit confused in the bookshop by the blurb at the back. It bangs on about Theo being a star player for England. Star. Players. England. Printer Error. Abort, retry, fail.
That’s an equation we won’t get to decrypt for at least another four years.
• T.J. and the Hat-Trick; T.J. and the Penalty. By Theo Walcott (with Paul May) Random House