Our blogs on sport and the stories and background to the sporting icons, celebrities and events inspiring some of our sports canvas prints and paintings

The Great English Football Demise

England world cupSo, the FIFA World Cup is over for another four years and what a fine tournament it was too.

In England, our hopes were not high going into the tournament it has to be said. Even so, the England team surpassed all expectations by being even more rubbish than the whole country thought they would be. There were only two high points for England and they were Daniel Sturridge’s equaliser against Italy and Wayne Rooney’s equaliser against Uruguay. Both were tap-ins and both couldn’t miss. The brief excitement generated by these goals was soon extinguished by certifiable madsters, Mario Balotelli and Luis Suarez. England then “dug-in” for a 0-0 draw against Costa Rica in the last game. As it turned out, Costa Rica were quite good and after finishing top of the group got to the quarter finals where they were eliminated (and unluckily so) by the Dutch.

That’s it then. If you ask me what’s wrong with English football then I will say two things to you:

Firstly, go and watch junior teams playing against each other in leagues up and down the country on Saturdays and Sundays. These junior team ages range from under 7’s and above. Most of the coaches are “dads”. Some are good, the majority are not. Listen to the screaming, snarling, swearing, anger that gets hurled at these poor kids by the coaches in a lot of instances and you will see where I’m coming from. My kids have both been playing since they were 6 years old and I have seen it all. The attitude is “win at all costs” and that is about it. People skills leave a lot to be desired too. My eldest son is 15 and a referee. When he was 14 and was officiating in a junior football tournament during summer 2013, he was shouted at by a coach during one game who screamed in front of everybody that my refereeing son “was an effing cheat”. Charming.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people working at junior league level who are devoted and give incredible amounts of time to the cause. There are plenty of good people. However, there is an awful lot of “bad” too. An awful lot.

Secondly, I will say to you – “just what are the England football team and who exactly do they represent?”. When a team have to be told (for the third tournament running) that they must sing the national anthem then you have to ask yourself, is there much going in the way of national pride here? Compare that to the Germans, the Chileans, the Brazilians etc and the contrast is incredible. Players representing other countries sing the anthem as if they are about to go to war – they would almost die for their countries. Our players do not play with this mindset.

Is the England football team representing England? If so, why do we sing the same anthem that is also the anthem of the United Kingdom? The Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish sing their own national anthems at sporting events and why shouldn’t they? They have national pride which centres on their own identity and national heritages.

There is no one answer to the English football crisis but there are a number of factors, that’s for sure. In the meantime, we turn nostalgic. Our England football canvas prints turn the clock back to 1966. By my calculation that’s now 48 years of “hurt”. Ouch.


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Wayne Rooney’s 2011 “Goal of the Season”

Wayne Rooney’s overhead kick v Man City at Old Trafford in February 2011

Wayne Rooney’s overhead kick v Man City at Old Trafford in February 2011

Wayne Rooney’s bicycle kick goal against Man City the season before last was voted best goal of the Premier League in 2011. You can buy this Wayne Rooney pop art canvas print from Modern Canvas Art.

Hundreds of thousand fans from all over the world voted for the award, which was created to celebrate the 20th season of the Premier League. Rooney’s spectacular strike in February 2011 received 26% of the vote. Dennis Bergkamp (19%) was second for his 2002 goal at Newcastle, and Thierry Henry (15%) against Manchester United was third.

Rooney was delighted with the award. “I grew up watching the Premier League so to be voted the best goal in the history of the Premier League is a great feeling,” Rooney said. “There’s so many good goals in that shortlist, goals that I watched in my living room as a kid: Alan Shearer’s goal, Paolo Di Canio’s, Tony Yeboah’s, David Beckham’s. “To be competing with them and winning is a great honour for me and something I’m very proud of. I’d like to say a big thank you to all the fans that voted for me.”

Rooney hailed the derby bicycle kick winner as best goal of his professional career. Rooney had struck in the 77th minute after David Silva’s fortunate equaliser had cancelled out Nani’s first-half opener for United. The England striker said it had been an instinctive finish from Nani’s cross. “I saw it come into the box and thought ‘why not?’, Rooney told Sky Sports. “I was trying to get in a good position for when Nani crossed it. Nine times out of 10 they go over the crossbar. Today it ended up in the top corner. It is instinct. You don’t have time to think about it. Thankfully it finished up in the top corner.” Asked when he had last scored with an overhead kick, Rooney replied: “In school I think. It’s the first one since I started playing professionally.”

Rooney’s strike ensured United bounced back after losing their unbeaten record to Wolves the week before. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson hailed Rooney’s winner as the best goal he had seen at Old Trafford. “It was stunning,” he said.

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For those who may not know what a bicycle kick is, it is a physical move made by throwing the body up into the air, making a shearing movement with the legs to get one leg in front of the other without holding on to the ground. The move can either be done backwards or sideways. Performing a bicycle kick can be quite dangerous when performed incorrectly as a player must take care to brace himself with his arms as he lands back on the ground. The difficulty of the move makes it unanticipated and the player runs the potential risk of getting hurt or harming another player. However, as described by BBC Sport, this is one of the acrobatic moves that makes the game much “richer.” The common English name comes from the two legs that look as if they are pedaling a bicycle, with one leg going forward to the ball and the other backward to create an opposite moment. In football it is thought to be so difficult that even Pele has described it has not easy to do. As such, only a few players have been able to perform the move (either as a defensive or offensive play) in an official football match making it one of the most praised plays in the game, especially when a goal is managed to be scored from it.

You may be interested to know that the following strikers have scored more than once from a bicycle kick in a top tier club match or competitive international match:

* David Arellano
* Peter Crouch (yes – Peter Crouch!)
* Klaus Fischer
* Leonidas
* Carlo Parola
* Pele
* Billy Bremner
* Hugo Sanchez
* Ramon Unzaga
* Alejandro Villanueva
* Uwe Seeler
* Wayne Rooney
* Ronaldinho
* Jean-Pierre Papin

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