As teams prepare to take the field in France for Euro 2016, we ask Dalston’s most decorated former footballer for his analysis of England’s Group B opponents.
Ryan ‘Nobby’ Clough has done it all in the football world: captain of the legendary Dulwich Hamlet second eleven that went unbeaten for almost three games in 1986; kit man for the Red Star Stoke Newington team that confounded all expectations by holding their own for a good half hour against mighty North Ferriby United. For the time being, Mr Clough remains chairman of AC Spartak Dalston despite being on remand for arson. Although that’s a right stitch-up, apparently.
Russia: ‘He’s a wily one, is your Russian. If the battle for Stalingrad taught us nothing else, it’s that your Ivan is a sneaky character what’ll find a way to do you up the jacksie, if you’re not careful. Also, they cheat something rotten. If they can’t drug themselves, they’ll drug the ref or the goalposts or something. Either way, something is definitely going to get drugged. Tactically, I expect them to take a leaf out of their president’s book and play a big man up front with a diamond formation in midfield, a sweeper behind and a couple of snipers on the roof. Probably a bit of Polonium in the tea as well. Might be safer to play for a draw in this one.’
Wales: ‘Now, the thing with your Taff is that he’s not a good traveller. He’s fine in Rhyl, but tends to pine for the valleys after about a week away. Like that big geezer in Zulu what adopted the calf. Your boy Gareth Bale will hardly have left the Rhondda before he’s on his knees, singing Bread of Heaven and making maudlin observations about the quality of the French soil. On the other hand they are very good at rugby, so we can expect a physical game with a strong homo-erotic undercurrent.
Slovakia: ‘Leave it out. That’s not a proper country is it? They’re not even in Eurovision are they? They are? You’re kidding. But have they ever won Eurovision, though? No, see? Lacks experience on the international stage, don’t he, your Slovak? Never been tested in the unforgiving furnace of European competition like what Bucks Fizz or Daniel O’Donnell has. Nah, not a chance, mate. Even the Welsh’ll have ’em. Cushty.’
Next week: Professor of Sportsology from the prestigious Dalston University, Dr Reebochk Balls, on Slovakia’s unstoppable charge to the semi-finals and what England ate on the plane home.