Croydon’s Second Division politicians showed themselves all-too-keen to bask in the reflected glory of England’s World Cup penalty shoot-out success over Colombia last night.
They may be dribbling into tricky territory, though. While it is an urban myth that Harold Wilson pulled off a General Election victory when riding the national euphoria of England’s 1966 World Cup victory, it is hard-edged fact that the Labour leader lost the 1970 election, which was staged just four days after West Germany dumped Sir Alf’s lads out of the Mexico World Cup in cruel circumstances.
And besides, does the public really trust politicians and their often forced, and false, football allegiances?
Who will forget David “Twat” Cameron’s gaffe in Croydon when he could not remember whether he supported Aston Villa or that other team in claret and blue, West Ham?
Public schoolboys doing blokeishness rarely, if ever, works.
Which brings us to Gavin Barwell and his professed “tears” of joy last night.
The former Tory MP for Croydon Central, now Theresa May’s chief of staff, was born in Sussex, brought up in Croydon, and claims to support Liverpool. Last night, he was also claiming to be overwrought by the result – and possibly presenting a real danger to other road users.
“Driving home listening to @bbc5live Pulled over crying tears of joy and relief,” he tweeted, adding one of the most unconvincing hashtags yet devised. Real man of the people is our Gav.
Barwell’s tweet brought back memories of a previous episode when he confessed to being overwrought when driving away from Croydon, with the flames of the town he was supposed to represent visible in his rear view mirror as fires blazed on the night of the 2011 riots.
But Barwell does not have a monopoly on unconvincing, bogus blokeishness.
Former prog rock organist and loyal Fulham fan, Tony Newman, was quick to use Twitter to give (yet another) plug to his favourite watering hole, Boozepark, as he enjoyed yet another evening’s hospitality at the venue which has benefited from £3million in council loans since Newman has been council leader, plus around £500,000 in Council Tax-funded subsidies. Trebles all-round!
Newman’s attempt at populism also saw him publicise bookmakers William Hill with his use of the #ItsComingHome hashtag, which generates little emojis emblazoned with the firm’s logo.
Will the bookies be offering odds on how much of a pay hike Newman will be awarding himself at Monday’s council meeting?
Elsewhere, other councillors were also channelling their inner football fan, too.
Jeet “Lucky” Bains, the Tory who scraped in by a handful of votes in Addiscombe East in May’s local elections, was moved to Kipling-based poetry laced with bad language: “If you can keep your heads while all about you are fouling the crap out of you and generally being dicks, you’ll win this match, lads,” he tweeted. Bains’s new ward includes much of the former estate of the old East India Company’s military college, and its modern residents may not take kindly to the Empire’s favourite poet being abused in such a manner.
Stuart King, the Labour cabinet member, was more discreet in his attempts to bask in England glory. “Oh my giddy aunt,” he wrote, in distinctly unfootball-like language. Perhaps that’s how they rock at Loftus Road?
One councillor opted for virtue-signalling of another kind. Andrew Pelling took to Twitter to say he was still delivering leaflets – Croydon has the best-paid leaflet deliverers in the whole country, it would seem – while Harry Kane and the England squad were battling the Colombians in Moscow.
Pelling accompanied this with a photograph of the deserted streets…
England’s next match, the quarter-final against Sweden, is on Saturday. Previously, when England have encountered the Swedes in international tournament competition, it ended up in (real) tears, with the England manager portrayed on one national newspaper back page as a turnip. Crystal Palace’s own Gareth Southgate already deserves far kinder treatment than that, whatever the outcome.
Fingers crossed, then. But if you thought last night’s bandwagon-jumping by the borough’s politicians was sick-making enough, you might want to avoid social media from around 3pm on Saturday. In any case, there’s a match to watch.
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