Roy weighed himself nude: 13 stone three. He drove to Purley High Street, went to a petrol station with a convenience store, filled his tank and bought fruit, vegetables, low fat mayonnaise, low fat cheese and, after some careful thought, crisps, Mars bars and beer. Seeping from a speaker, Chicago sang If You Leave Me Now. It made Roy think of Holly, his first wife. He thought about walking with her in the rain in Wandle Park. He thought about their wedding and their divorce.
After taking his groceries home, Roy drove to his office in Croydon and did some shredding. This didn’t stop him from thinking about Holly: Holly raging, Holly laughing, Holly drunk, Holly and him going to see Star Wars, Holly irate and naked on their bed. Roy slapped himself on the side of the head, kept shredding then drove back home where he picked up a landline phone message from his brother Brian. “Roy, could you give me a quick call? Not all that urgent…”
He pictured Brian sitting smug in his converted oast house in Kent, his wife Joyce ironing silently, perhaps reflecting on the children she had never had, perhaps not. Roy switched on the build up to the football. Rooney, his suspension spent, had been recalled ahead of Carroll. This needled Roy: the prodigal son, a bit of a yob, should wait his turn, that was how things ought to be. And when the game began Roy bellowed at the widescreen Panasonic with both outrage and glee when a perfect cross skidded off Rooney’s head and trickled wide.
Opponents Ukraine were raiding down the flanks, left and right, frantic for a win. Roy, growing more and more cross about Brian’s perturbing message – why hadn’t he rung him on his mobile, why hadn’t he said what the “not all that urgent” thing was? – vowed to call a phone-in to say that Ukraine had been the better team. From one of the archive boxes Roy had found a photograph of him and Brian sharing a bath as little boys. Gwen had been very fond of that one. It was lying on the carpet. Roy turned it face down.
In the second half Gerrard skipped past a defender, bent in a good cross, the goalie fluffed it and Rooney scored, nodding in from three inches. “Oh, sod off,” Roy railed as the scorer made some grinning celebration reference to his transplanted hair. “Just sod off.”
It got worse for Ukraine: their own sitting duck miss and a shot cleared by England’s defence last ditch which replays showed had crossed the line. The pundit talk switched to the need for goal line technology, a concept that Roy could see was perfectly logical whose modernity made him recoiled instinctively.
The co-hosts brought on their talisman Schevchenko who’d been on the bench nursing a knee, but England scraped the win. Sweden, meanwhile, were defeating France, who nonetheless finished second in the group. England finished top, which meant they would play Italy in a quarter-final in Kiev on Sunday. Roy already hoped that they would lose.
All previous instalments of Roy’s Summer of Sport are HERE.
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