Tell me Ma, I’m Going to Wembley

Won’t need me tea, me tea
We’re going to Wem-ber-ley
We’re going to Wem-ber-ley
Tell me Ma, me Ma

One of our students, Kentaro, took himself to Wembley last Sunday for a stadium tour; and the evening before was at Villa Park in Birmingham for the Villa-Manchester City game.

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Kentaro tells me he was able to walk the hallowed turf at Wembley, admire the cavernous vastness of the stadium, and pose with the FA Cup (or perhaps a replica thereof, I’m not too clear on that). At Villa Park, meanwhile, he enjoyed a breathless needly match which remained goalless until the 82nd minute, when Yaya Touré put the visitors ahead, with Sergio Agüero doubling the lead in the 89th.

So, a weekend of football. Football is one of Britain’s major cultural exports, not only in historical terms (the English invented the game, and the Scots taught them how to play it) but in current economic terms – the Premier League is not really a domestic league at all, so few English players line up for the top teams these days. Like London, or our universities, our national game has embraced globalisation more wholeheartedly than most, with a corresponding strengthening in financial terms, and weakening in terms of narrow nationalism. I am inclined to welcome this where football is concerned, despite (or perhaps because of) its debilitating effects on the national team. And if England, and especially London, starts to look more and more like the Republic of Venice in the eighteenth century, a resort for the rich and idle, a sort of luxury brand, then at least the football is not dull.

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