Column: The final doesn’t matter, England are the real World Cup winners

118

Graham Dougan was a youth prospect at Arsenal in the 1970s but never quite made the grade, making his career in the upper echelons of the old division two. He was also a Scottish U25 international. He is a regular pundit on TV in Malta and Luxembourg, and an after-dinner speaker of some repute.

He’ll write a column exclusively for the site and we hope you’ll enjoy his keen and unique insight into the game. This week he looks at the World Cup and England’s journey to the semi-finals.

Some people might think that because I’m a former Scottish U25 international, I would root against England at the World Cup. Nothing could be further from the truth – it’s the Irish I can’t stand, but thankfully they didn’t qualify and ruin the tournament with their good-natured fans singing songs about not surrendering to the IRA.

England, however, were a joy to behold throughout the tournament, under the youthful management of Garth Southgate. What a breath of fresh hair he’s been. Not like previous tournaments with the likes of Sven Goran Eriksson and Fabio Campello, there’s been an underlying Englishness to England which is something that England need in order to be as English as they can possibly be.

You don’t see other nations going in with managers from foreign countries. Imagine the outcry in France if their football federation announced that John Gregory was going to take charge? Sure, he’s a high quality manager but they’d be burning their panno chocolat on the streets of Perpignan simply because he wasn’t one of them.

Southgate knew that in order to succeed he had to bring back the good old fashioned qualities that made England such a force in the past. Nobody epitomised that more than Harry Maguire – even his name is as English as you can get. Good old Harry Maguire, you could imagine him as a pub landlord tracing the history of the Maguire clan from Devon all the way up north to Cornwall and holding court as he pulled pints of bitter for his regulars.

He could have been a farmer, a man who works in fields, a crop grower, a cattle minder, a tiller, or any one of the trades that a real man can have under his belt. His mighty meaty forehead was a true weapon on the pitch, loafing the ball towards goal at every opportunity, and England’s prowess at set-pieces was truly something to behold. It reminded us that for all the bravado from America about the greatness of Route 66, the greatest route of them all is 1.

As for the supporting cast, who could ignore the fleet-footed mastery of Jordan Hemperson, knocking diagonal balls into touch to press the opposition back into their own half so as to make inroads into their territory? The sly, devilish ways of Dele Alli who would make himself anonymous so as for the opposition to forget all about him? And the confidence of Harry Kane who believes in his goalscoring ability so much that he can confidently ignore a man outside him who would have had a tap-in to send England to the final?

It is those things which make you realise that England don’t even need the final to win the World Cup. They have united a nation like the United Nations never could despite all their years of trying – we still have wars, what are these people up to?! Back in old Brighty, the pubs and parks were full of people throwing beer on each other, a sign of a caring, sharing, mature society that doesn’t feel the need to binge drink its own beer selfishly (like the Irish).

“It’s coming home!”, they sang, echoing the words of that famous song from Jeremy Beadle and Frank Skinner, and each step along the way it was closer and closer to its final destination. Then, sadly, they were beaten by a country which didn’t even exist when I was playing. A new international franchise called Croatia, a cynical move that FIFA should have stamped down on but no doubt Step Blatter was given a brown envelope full of gold bullion to allow it to happen.

Losing in those circumstances is no shame and England rightly celebrated because outside of Croatia and France, who actually cares who wins the final? They’ll be forgotten soon enough, but nobody will forget the melodic England trumpet band, great Englishmen like Gary Lineker, Ian Wright and Roy Keane backing the lads all the way, and the emotion of coming so near yet so far. In some ways it’s better not to win it because once you do win it, the only way is down.

So, regardless of what happens in the final in Leningrad on Sunday, England are the real winners of this World Cup. They might not get the Jules Rimmer trophy, but they deserve a reacharound of applause from every football fan the world over.

118
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Paul
Paul

Wise words. Now get back to those dishes!

Starr
Starr

Yer da

Shaun
Shaun

Just, why?

Lord Bendnter
Lord Bendnter

Oh the sarcasm is strong in this one

Manu
Manu

Nobody ever forget the winners of a World Cup !

And_Unai_Said...
And_Unai_Said...

Keeping in theme, remember what Alan Hanson once said.
“You can’t win anything with tots” 20 years on……
was Alan Hanson prophetic?

TommyGun
TommyGun

Is it a coincidence that Belgium and England both each had 3 trophy dodgers in their starting line ups (England bring on a further 2 trophy dodgers as substitutes) and both teams get knocked out? I think not. Kane and Alli were anonymous and clearly have a serious medical aversion to silverware. It’s not their fault, it just in their sp*rs DNA.

One of them is lying!
One of them is lying!

You can’t win anything with Spu*s players in you team!…when majority of your starting line ups are spu*s and the c**ts like Lingaard and Alli, then that’s all u can hope for.
They didnt have any real test until Croatia…
Truth is it’s a missed opportunity for England. As a non-english Arsenal fan, i will sigh with relief that i dont have to see those pictures of Alli and Kane lifting the trophy and gloat about how good of an english side this was.
Hope you guys win it with Reiss Nelson, AMN, Nketiah and Willock in 2026

Bould's Eyeliner
Bould's Eyeliner

The problem is they will still do it, because they will make it to 4th, and hence this article. Ugh,.

Drjm
Drjm

‘Trophy dodgers’ made me genuinely laugh out loud. Perfect.

Gooooonnnnnnaaaaaaa
Gooooonnnnnnaaaaaaa

That’s what you get for having a Spurs manager, captain and style of play. You end up bottling it like Spurs ALWAYS do. Getting to a semi final is something you should always celebrate no matter what, but the run in England had was beyond easy, and given how tired Croatia were England really should have made it to the final.

This was a once in a million chance that they blew. Now that they’ve “over achieved” thanks to the low expectations/pressure, the expectations and pressure will sure increase back to the norm for the next tournament, and I fully expect the cycle to continue.

Tas_Gunner
Tas_Gunner

🔨

Red-Sky
Red-Sky

Damn, you been throwin’ alotta hammers around 😂😂

Freddie L.berg
Freddie L.berg

What a pile of dog shite!
Nobody will remember England in this tournament. Every.Single.Person (nevermind football fans) will remember the winner of the tournament (in Moscow btw), especially if Croatia wins. Also, for the record, it’s pain au chocolate. I think this article it’s meant to be a parody (I hope it is) but even then it’s still a really shit one. Arrogance at its finest (and from a neutral perspective, Irish fans are the best). Waste of post, I’m a big fan of blogs (and their simpsons references) but this was utter crap!

SuperTom7
SuperTom7

Pal, every sentence in this article is sarcastic and it was trully well written.

Gooneron
Gooneron

Apparently sarcasm went one way while Freddie went the other

carlosthegooner
carlosthegooner

but what an amazing side step by Freddie, skipping past parody, hurdling sarcasm before pulling his shorts down, doing a handstand and shitting on his own head! Quite remarkable!

thejw1
thejw1

Took the left at Route 2.

jw1

Damo Dinkum
Damo Dinkum

Sounds like you need a reacharound of applause to cheer you up

Mayor McCheese
Mayor McCheese

While getting the Rimmer, I’d imagine.

many people
many people

I am guessing English isn’t your first language. Either that or comprehension isn’t even in your top 10 skills.

Rodrigo Duterte
Rodrigo Duterte

It’s not “pain au chocolate.”

“It’s pain au chocolat” . Get your delicious french viennoiseries right

Tas_Gunner
Tas_Gunner

🔨

Hi-brid
Hi-brid

Is this comment deliberately written in the style of Duggan, kind of playing him at his own game?

Niall
Niall

Agree totally rubbish rascist report shouldnt be linked with arsenal

John the Brit
John the Brit

What a load bullshit, England played piss easy teams, and got hyped up and knocked out in the semis against a team which isn’t “amazing”. The fan support was great but with team England have they should be in the final. Not to sure how england are the “real winners”. Winners means you win a trophy not a semi finalist

Bennis Bergkamp
Bennis Bergkamp

Read the article again, but this time with comprehension skills.

Tas_Gunner
Tas_Gunner

🔨

MrSweaty
MrSweaty

Im always left questioning what I read when I read Graham’s column. If thats the intention well done sir cos once again I am left wondering why I read that.

HotRod2000
HotRod2000

Is this guy retarted or what? England did well but nobody remembers semis only the winners. This auther needs to work on his stuff

Kwame Ampadu Down
Kwame Ampadu Down

He ran out of tarts but baked some more ?

Jeff
Jeff

No the hookers he had on the 3 day binge had to leave so he called some more.

Tas_Gunner
Tas_Gunner

Scottish u25 international…anyone reading past that and still thinking “this is a genuine opinion post and so bloody wrong! blogs you melt!! ” needs professional help imo 😒

Sum Wan Oruva
Sum Wan Oruva

Punditry of the highest order!

Padré
Padré

3rd place playoff should be a cracker 😋

HansRott
HansRott

Yes, the pubs and car parks were full and the back pages replete with optimism and praise. But here’s the thing. It was, in a goodly part, built on fallacy and fraud.

Was this a better squad than in previous campaigns? Undoubtedly.
Was it better managed? As far as I could see, probably.
Was it better coached. Fuck no. As the game against Croatia showed.
Is it as good as you think it is? Never in a million years.

And it wasn’t as if England actually beat anyone decent either. The only reason they got as far as they did was down to sheer luck. All the best teams were in the other half of the draw.

They beat Panama, Tunisia, Colombia (only on penalties), and Sweden for fucks sake.
They lost to Belgium and Croatia.
And if Belgium turn up, they could very well be trounced by them come the third-place play off tomorrow.

If England had bested a rubbish Spain and a crap Germany on their way to the semi-final at least England’s mediocrity could have been masked. But it hasn’t been.

So, what has the country actually got out of this?

A very welcome distraction as Britain pelts headlong towards socio-economic chaos.
A reprise of a very misleading song.
A surge of appreciation in that estimable garment, the waistcoat.

Basically, a combination of a panda, a koala, and a squirrel doing a vaudeville act on YouTube.

As for the final not mattering in a competition that ends in a final. I really don’t know where to start except with the word ‘arrogance’. So the whole competition was about England and not football? Whew. That says it all.

Kwame Ampadu Down
Kwame Ampadu Down

HansNotgettingit

Laca-Sead
Laca-Sead

Not unlike the England Team 😉
Quite proud of myself on this one. A 9/10 of Graham sarcasm ladder?

Ospina'sThumb

No

Tas_Gunner
Tas_Gunner

🔨

Carlosthegooner
Carlosthegooner

Brilliant article from an unbiased dishwasher of the highest order. Very funny but the responses of the gullible and the stupid make the article that much better.

Iain
Iain

ahhahaha. Surely though the mouth breather’s mouth has been photoshopped in that one.

rgnm14
rgnm14

this guts an idiot. says hes against the irish and their ways yet call roy keane a great englishman. what an absolute tool bag. man should rwad a bit more before puking his opinion online.

Damo Dinkum
Damo Dinkum

Oh, the irony.

Tas_Gunner
Tas_Gunner

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

TeeCee
TeeCee

Dunno about that. He would seem to understand spelling, punctuation, context and composition, which puts him rather higher up the scale of smarts than you.

Espen
Espen

Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast, I would catch it.

Arsenalista
Arsenalista

England are definitely the winners…seriously, they beat teams that they were expected to beat and when they came up against a half decent team they could not win. A draw against Belgium and beaten by Croatia, but they are now the next best thing since the young German team 10 years ago. Its the English media that kill this team, all the talk of football coming home when it was only the team that came home. Love this article by the way and the comments section is even better. Funny

My Arse-nal
My Arse-nal

We (England) lost to Belgium. I may change the results in my head to my liking though.

Tom Gun
Tom Gun

Is this guy trying to be funny? Don’t get it!

Was the whole Maguire bit sarcasm as well? If it was its not funny. If it wasnt then its just plain dumb – Maguire is a VERY Irish name. Or is that supposed to tie in to his anti-Ireland racism? Sorry I meant sarcasm!

These blogs of his degrade this wonderful site. Please can we have something better?

A Different George
A Different George

Andrew is noted for his displeasure with the Irish, however I would not go so far as to call it racism.

Wreh's FA Cup dream
Wreh's FA Cup dream

Mate, Blogs is Irish. It’s a bit daft for you to suggest that he’s anti-Irish. The column is a parody.

A Different George
A Different George

Mate, so was the comment.

Tas_Gunner
Tas_Gunner

🔨

Nwanko kanu's father
Nwanko kanu's father

Cmon dont be such an idiot.

Niall
Niall

Agree totally rascist reporting

Johar
Johar

You could see the Tottenham influence in this England team.
Promised so much and delivered nothing.

Ya gooner
Ya gooner

They really spursed it,

On a side note: henderson is still bang average

DB10s Air Miles
DB10s Air Miles

Truth be told, I think this column is slightly above average but the gullible comments more than make up for it. Priceless!

Chelseaman
Chelseaman

England are not the winners here and let’s get one thing right France are the favourites to win the wcup .And if England had got to the final im sure we would have struggled to beat france so croatia did us a favour really. If kane had been on his game which he wasn’t missing from 4xyards 2 chances which any normal striker would have scored. We would have something to boast about but as always we go on and on about what could have been get over it we aren’t good enough.Well done croatia you deserve to be in the final .And where was cahill as stones had a bad game.

Tas_Gunner
Tas_Gunner

It’s a satire column you doofus 😓

My Arse-nal
My Arse-nal

I’m sorry but your reply is almost as shit as your name. Croatia did us a favour by beating us? Anything can happen in a final and I would rather us be playing in that than the utterly pointless 3rd place play off game.

mpls
mpls

about what i’d expect from a ‘chelseaman’.

Mutisya

Beautiful. absolutely beautiful. had a good laugh reading through

Jasonissimo
Jasonissimo

And the article was pretty funny as well.

Elneny's Hair
Elneny's Hair

Do people not understand sarcasm? There have been a few Graham Dougan posts and people still haven’t gotten the idea.

Regardless, it’s a lot of fun reading the comments which takes such articles seriously. Makes my day. 😛

A view to Ozil
A view to Ozil

It’s been a while since his last insightful column, but reading this just makes me sad that Graham, with his ties to the history of Arsenal has been over looked by the new management for a place on the coaching staff. Surely exactly the kind of thinking we could benefit from.

Pinto Hornbacher

Blogs – Please keep these articles coming. I learn as much from the comments, as I do from the article. Very insightful stuff.

Maul Person
Maul Person

“You don’t see other nations going in with managers from foreign countries. Imagine the outcry in France if their football federation announced that John Gregory was going to take charge? Sure, he’s a high quality manager but they’d be burning their panno chocolat on the streets of Perpignan simply because he wasn’t one of them.“

Roberto Martinez AND Thierry Henry are Belgian then, ‘ey?!

Tas_Gunner
Tas_Gunner

🔨

Danny
Danny

Nice. Feeds nicely in to the anti English narrative of this blog and its comments, ironically dedicated to an English club.

Tas_Gunner
Tas_Gunner

🔨

Public Elneny
Public Elneny

Losing the semi final was just another genius ploy to be placed on the easy side of the draw again

Laca-Sead
Laca-Sead

Bipolarisation of the world! I laughed so much with this article and its subsequent comments! Thanks Graham. This season is going so much fun with Robbie and Bombaclap blood leaving comments on Arseblog.

Public Elneny
Public Elneny

Just noticed, has Kane’s mouth been artificially widened in that photo?

Bai Blagoi
Bai Blagoi

Excellent catch!

mpls
mpls

No, I’m pretty sure that’s anatomically correct. They just cleaned up the drool so as not to sully the England squads image.

Lanre
Lanre

Christ! Lot of folks just don’t get sarcasm. Fine article.

Chinmay
Chinmay

Is this article written just for the sake of writing

Tas_Gunner
Tas_Gunner

🔨

returnee gunner
returnee gunner

Will u let up with the 🔨 already

Arsenalfanman
Arsenalfanman

The fourth place trophy is the one England truly wanted.

Mpls
Mpls

It’s the one Sp*rs had envied for so long.

Herb Kazzaz
Herb Kazzaz

“He’ll write a column exclusively for the site” : Okay. Not that often though please.

Herb Kazzaz
Herb Kazzaz

Also, the pic of Graham has clearly been muddled up with one of Mr O’Reilly from Fawlty Towers. Does Graham like a woman with spirit too?

Jack4343
Jack4343

I’d love to hear an audio version of ol’ Graham’s blogs. Patreon perhaps?

DialSquareGoon
DialSquareGoon

Spudpool vanquished.

Charvakan

Mr. Dougan should manage Scotland. With his technical knowledge and keen insight into the game, he could win the World Cup be sheer force of intellect.

indiegooner
indiegooner

Yeah, they get even get to play the final one day ahead!!

A Different George
A Different George

“for all the bravado from America about the greatness of Route 66, the greatest route of them all is 1.”

Can’t argue with that.

Red-Sky
Red-Sky

Mighty fine article. lol
indeed , it came home.

Rahul
Rahul

As hilarious as Graham’s articles usually are, it’s always funnier to read the comments of those who somehow don’t get it.

Canadian gooner
Canadian gooner

Leave it to England fans to think playing for 3rd place will be remember forever. Football is the worlds sport, England hasn’t been successful for decades. Winning one world cup and 2 euro semis finals does not make them the greatest football nation. To be the greatest you need to win trophies.

Tas_Gunner
Tas_Gunner

🔨

Jasonissimo
Jasonissimo

Learned something today: Tas_Gunner is a sarcastic German. (https://www.duolingo.com/comment/15512491/Hammer-What-does-that-mean)

BSH
BSH

Some of the comments on this article are so dense that my computer sank through my desk, but they’re certainly hilarious.

Ron
Ron

Wonderful. As always. A great laugh. Then the bonus: a reminder that the “bottom half of the internet” (comments) contains a terrifying proportion of morons who think their ignorant opinions should matter.

Danny
Danny

It’s an ignorant, unfunny article basically taking the piss because the most important thing to England fans at the World Cup was….. England. As if all other countries aren’t the same? Could possibly find a chuckle if it was written with some chagrin by an Englishman, but it wasn’t was it. If you find this nonsense funny then more power to your elbow, but personally I thought it was dog shit.

Ron
Ron

I rest my case

Norms
Norms

What a waste of time. His humour is unfunny, his conclusion is unfunny, his whole article is unfunny and deserves binning.

baz00r
baz00r

Agreed. Coming from an Australian, who would in theory love an article about England’s dreams being crushed, and we know a thing or two about sarcasm, but was waiting for the funny and it never came. Oh well, it got some clicks for a day I guess.

santori
santori

It’s coming home alright. Talk about Brexit again.

England were LUCKY.

One convincing win against Panama. Beating an average Colombian team with James Rodriguez, beating an industrial but limited Swedish team.

Then reality check against the first quality team they meet in Croatia (after Belgium).

What’s so great about this performance.

The media are deluding people as usual. They spursed it up.

The unsung team if anything is Croatia, dark horses.

That said, here’s to Giroud scoring the winning goal.

Kwame Ampadu Down
Kwame Ampadu Down

You’re such an incredibly boring man santori.

baz00r
baz00r

Firing off my sarcasm detector within the first sentence but still thought it was a shit and pointless article.

Lerpy
Lerpy

I don’t know which is better. The article or the negative comments below it.

Love it. I guess it would be boring if we all had the same sense of humor.

Gunnersaurus
Gunnersaurus

Gold

As an American watching on FOX I need some good banter like this. I liked Stuart Holden as a player but what a f*ing god awful pundit. The guy is only slightly better than Lalas. He was drooling over England the entire game

Tungor
Tungor

This article is a true mind opener; speaking your language, having friends from your country and having enjoyed so many romances with english beauties that I almost thought ” hmm I know thes
fellas now” but no, I don’t. To me it was all greek only with English words

Tom
Tom

The English had the easiest runs to the final and they still fucked it up so at the end of the day the two stronger teams they met they lost to them. So why big up a team of shit
plus When we the Irish fans drink and finish our pints we don’t go breaking up hotels or damaging ambulance just because we lost. The tournament would have been better with us instead of the over hyped England team