First Touch

England Thrash San Marino In Euro Debacle

Somebody pinched 90 minutes from my life last Saturday night and without Michael J. Fox’s DeLorean there’s no way I’m getting it back. I feel sorry for anybody else who was unfortunate enough to suffer the same fate. What am I talking about, exactly? Sitting through the turgid rubbish that was the European Championship qualifier between San Marino and England. For you lucky ones who didn’t have to witness this debacle, England won 6-0.

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By Matty Lawrence

When I say, “won,” that implies there was some type of contest. There wasn’t. A contest, match, or game, has to be competed by TWO teams. There was only one…and England are hardly any great shakes. The gulf in class separating San Marino and England is stratospheric. This is hardly San Marino’s fault. I have had more hot dinners than there are people in San Marino. I left more people in bed this morning than play football in San Marino.

The GDP of San Marino is slightly less than Bill Gates found in his suit pocket after a decent night out, so how on earth are they going to have the structure and resources to provide for competitive national sporting teams? Let alone the amount of talented sporting bodies to make up a decent football team: total impossibility.

So, why oh bloody why, do I have to sit through these monotonous games? That’s exceptionally selfish of me. At least I only had to walk up the road to the pub. How about the hundreds of English fans who had to make the journey to San Marino to watch a foregone conclusion?

Over Land & Sea

Many English fans like to be able to say that they have travelled over land and sea to watch the national team wherever they are playing. Some fans refuse to miss a single game: home, or away. The least we can do – and by “we” I mean UEFA, in this instance, or FIFA as the leading organization of worldwide football, is give these loyal supporters some bang for their buck.

And, please, this isn’t an anti-San Marino diatribe; we could easily substitute San Marino for Gibraltar, Andorra, Kazakhstan, or a whole host of other countries that can be considered football minnows. Just the same as we can substitute England for a whole host of other countries that take part in these meaningless fixtures.

This, also, isn’t some pompous column beating down smaller nations and seeing me totally desirous of an elite “club” for larger nations: I’ll leave that to the Bush family’s foreign policy. *runs for cover under a hail of drone strikes What I do want is a certain level of competitiveness. There is zero point in some of these lesser talented countries taking part in this section of the European Championship qualifying leagues:-· San Marino have yet to score a goal in seven matches (There is a rumour they had a shot on goal, but that appears to have been in the warm-up).


Andorra have conceded 30 goals in eight games. (They have not gained a single point) ·Gibraltar have conceded an average of six goals per game. (I could find a few mates from the pub to give them a competitive game) These aren’t contests. Don’t we see it? There is NO POINT to them. You can’t have a two-horse race with only one horse.

The solution is plain and simple. There needs to be a secondary tournament before the main event takes place. Here the teams can have competitive games on a relatively level playing field and everybody can benefit.

Secondary Tournament?

The smaller teams can learn to attack, as well as to erect a human wall in front of their goal and pray. This sounds ridiculously patronising, but it’s just a fact. Then, with this secondary tournament in place, there can be a ladder into the European Championship qualifying leagues we see in place now.

I realise I am not the only person to have suggested this principle, but I believe the issue has to be addressed and rectified, NOW For the crop of nations that are developing their national teams, the right type of “help” has to be provided. Getting drubbed 6-0 nearly every game helps nobody.


Nigh on the only time the likes of San Marino get to play on a level playing field is in a meaningless friendly. I am sick and tired of this it’s not the winning, but the taking part malaise that has been seeping into society for decades.

I have enough of it at my kid’s school where they are adamant that the participation and enjoyment of EVERYONE should come before the winning. I’m pretty damn certain that I have always enjoyed the games I have won a whole lot more than the games I have lost: whether it be tiddlywinks, football, tennis, or strip poker!


Let the UEFA forget about the couple of extra shekels they receive for allowing so many FA’s into the European Championship qualifiers and the increase in size of the European Championships themselves. Can we please get back to competitiveness and a reduction of these matches that constitute watching paint dry?

Most people have no interest in watching them and I’m pretty sure very few of the participants take any enjoyment out of playing in them…and I include the winning team members in that. All they get out of it is an increase in the probability of getting injured; whether that be from the clumsiness of the challenges from the inferior opposition, or just the dire standard of the playing surfaces a large majority of the time.

You can’t have failed to notice the ploughed field the afore-mentioned San Marino vs England game was played on. I was waiting for the oxen to come on at half-time to level the surface out. Come on UEFA sort this out.

Less of the 6-0’s, more entertainment and FINALLY a qualifier for the lower seeded nations to get into the main draw. It really can’t be that difficult.

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