The Alternative Guide To... The Euros: England v Croatia

Follow the happenings of the England football teams most recent outing with Croatia, as experienced and commented on by football novice, Jonny 'Soccer fan' Dickin

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 15th Jun 2021

The dust has settled, the tears have dried, and past defeats have quickly been forgotten - though they remain forever in the history books of great vanquishes suffered by the people of England - it’s time to move on from Eurovision 21’, to the second most important event our fair continent will experience this year - the Euros.

Yes, it's time for the lions to step out onto those freshly tendered pitches once again, each blade of grass hand-prepared for the sheer football-based mayhem that it is about to endure. Ninety minutes of passes, headers, handballs, topless English men and grass stains… The European Championship has it all, and what better way to celebrate such an auspicious occasion than to follow along with Skiddle’s “Alternative Guide to The Euros”, with me, Jonny “Soccer fan” Dickin. 

And so here we are. The first England game of the tournament, up against the mighty Croatians who only a few years earlier sent England packing from the World cup showdown, back in 2018. Wembley Stadium is basking in the Southern sunshine, as twenty-two men prepare to take to the grass to do some world-class ball kicking, whilst here in my native Barnoldswick, Lancashire, I sit inside, preparing to watch twenty-two men running around a field for the next couple of hours; socks pulled high, kicking a sack of air from one end to the other, as the crowd chants “it’s coming home”, as if under some kind of beer-fueled spell. 

I take my seat in the living room of my partner's house, Charlotte, joined by her Dad - Warren, Mum - Karen and doggo - Buster. The snacks are positioned on the coffee table, and the sun promised to us by those pesky weather forecasters hides behind the clouds as the football-playing men make their entrance. Who knows what the next hour and a half will bring? How many kicks will happen? How many times will I ask “what does offside mean?” Which player will display the best acting skills as he hurls himself to the floor following a pat on the back? The excitement is palpable.

The men line up as they prepare to sing the national anthems of their respective countries. I notice the England players vary in height quite a lot, which adds a nice flavour to the proceedings. The Croatian players, on the other hand, are all fairly uniform in the height department. I consider this a win for the Englishmen. However, I must also note that the Croatian men have on a lovely red and white checkered number, which is somewhat more interesting than the fairly plain, white shirts of the Englishmen. So far, so good.

The camera focuses on a man called Gareth Southgate, who I am informed is the manager of the Englishmen. Perhaps Sven-Göran Eriksson is on holiday today, or has just decided to enjoy the London sunshine instead? I’m unsure of the details but regardless, I will strive to keep you all informed as the tournament continues. Stay tuned.

Speaking of absent faces, I’m also disappointed to learn Alan Shearer will not be in the starting eleven. Again, the reasoning behind this, I’m not too sure, but I think this could have a great impact on the English squadron.

Without further ado, the ball begins moving around the field…



Kick-Off: The first kick of the game comes from one of the Englishmen. For a while, the ball moves from player to player, a technique that I believe is referred to as a “1-2”. This 1-2 tactic is employed quite heavily for a while, so I open the BBQ pringles to help pass the time.

It doesn’t take long for the referee (sporting a kit fashioned out of what looks like very chic aqua silk) to get involved, as he attempts to kick the ball himself. This is quickly put to a halt by two other men who watch the ball for things happening from the sidelines (sub-refs?). I feel sorry for the referee at this point. He was only trying to join in.

I decide to put the lid back on the Pringles, I’m getting through them at an alarming rate. It’s at this point that an Englishman kicks the ball towards the goal area of the Croatian team, guarded by their goalkeeper, dressed in green. The ball makes a strong collision with the post, which doesn’t constitute a point in this case. However, if they had been playing “can you hit the post from there?”, this would have been a fantastic result for the Englishman.

Disaster! The ball is kicked really hard into the crowd! It looks like the match might be over at this point, but apparently, they have backup balls, one of which is used from this point forwards.



10 minutes in: The game continues in the usual fashion, with the ball moving at varying speeds around the grass. Some of the kicks so far have been great, but none have sent the ball into the points zone, which seems to be increasingly unsettling for both sets of fans. Meanwhile, I’ve got a Radiohead song stuck in my head. I think it’s Idioteque. Great song. Charlotte is eating crunchy M&M’s. They were on offer at One Stop.

A poor attempt from the Coraotians as the ball flies way over the top of the English goal. Another new ball is thrown back on the grass, so the kicking can resume. Very little time was lost due to this. Excellent play from the ball boy. Boy of the match. 



30 minutes in: There’s not really much to tell you… 

Karen has spoken out for the first time in a while, exclaiming  "bloody brilliant". I'm not sure what this was in reference to. 

My friend Mike told me about a film called “Upstream Colour”. He says it's very weird. Maybe I’ll watch it later on.

Excitement! The yellow man in the English net kicked the ball and it nearly made it all the way across the pitch, which is a long way! I'm not sure how long exactly though. I always find it weird when people use football pitches as a unit of measurement - "it was three football pitches long". Well, how long is that? I'm sure someone knows... I'll find out for the next game, don't worry. 

The word “offside” has made an appearance. I will ask Warren what this means, soon.



40 minutes in: After realising there is some Thousand Island dip on the coffee table, I have reopened the BBQ pringles. Meanwhile, the players are still kicking the ball about. Two men nearly touch the ball with their hands. They flap their arms about in a desperate attempt to try and avoid it, which is hilarious to watch. I’m informed that had the players indeed touched the ball with their hand, it would have constituted a foul - otherwise more commonly known as ‘handball’. Valuable lesson learned.



Half-time: The aforementioned Alan Shearer is on screen now, talking about the varied kicks we have seen in the first forty-five minutes. I was hoping the Walkers adverts man would ask him why he wasn’t playing today, but he avoided the question. Perhaps it is a delicate situation, I’m not too sure.


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Second Half: A whole fifty-two seconds pass before I realise the game is underway again. I closed Reddit. Each team is now running in the opposite direction to what they were before. This is an interesting and somewhat confusing development. 

In what appeared to be a bad decision, one of the Englishmen headed the ball near to his own goal area. The banana coloured gatekeeper of the England net managed to kick the ball back up the field before the Croatian men could act upon this mistake. Charlotte’s dad, Warren was outspoken about his displeasure.



50 minutes in: Karen is watching a clothes sale on Facebook Live and the Englishmen are continuing with their 1-2 campaign. 

Charlotte now speaks up, stating the game is actually quite similar to ping pong, to which Karen quite rightly replied “the ball is much bigger” and that “there are no bats involved”.

A sudden break from the monotonous back and forth of passing sees the Englishmen break past the defences of the Croatians, and the ball ultimately ends up in the points area. The crowd erupts as the score changes to England 1 - Croatia 0. The men in the crowd take off their shirts and start chanting the spell again. Warren shouted “come on!” and Buster follows up with a series of barks. The goal was scored by Sterling. As far as goals go, it was quite good, I believe.



60 minutes in: The excitement of winning one point has calmed somewhat now, as the ball returns to its tried and tested pattern of going back and forth. Hang on! The England boys nearly got the ball in again then, but instead, a player called Kane hits the post. This is the second time an Englishman has hit the post in this game, but the second with commitment enough to include colliding with the goals in person, which is quite commendable. Looks like it hurt quite a bit, but he's running around now. He'll be ok. 

Croatia are also playing this game, I should mention since my attention has been squarely on the English squadron. However, no matter how much the Croatian men try, they can’t seem to get the ball into the point zone, which must be irritating for the fans in the audience, who have paid to see the Croatian men do just that. 

One of the Croatian men got his foot stood on, which made the referee (still rocking that aqua) pull out a yellow square and show it to an Englishman. I’m not sure what this refers to, but I don't think it's a good thing. Still, at least it wasn’t the dreaded red square.

The camera pans to Gareth who is shown discussing things with supposed Marxist, Marcus Rashford, one of England's star players. Gareth appears to be saying “I’m going to send you on in a minute, run around and kick the ball, and seize the means of production?” to which Rashford replies, “Yes, sir, understood.” This could really shake things up. 



70 minutes in: Around this point in the match, I started to think that football matches should only last around seventy minutes or so, as I think most people are probably bored by now. We’ve seen the point kick, we’ve seen people spitting, we’ve seen the referee getting involved... What more is there to see? Regardless of my bemoaning, the game continues for a further twenty minutes. 

Sterling, the point winner, wastes an opportunity, apparently. Stones, adorned with the number five, is now sitting down on the grass, showing us he can touch his toes. There are men now massaging his legs. I think he's had enough too. 

The cameramen, also apparently bored, now treat us to a splendid view of the bellies of several Englishmen, still chanting the same old incantation and spilling larger everywhere. One of them has a very detailed tattoo of Winston Churchill. Make of that what you will. Still very enthused, these sunburnt gentlemen really want England to win the showdown. 



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The ball travels towards the Croatian goal really quickly from the other side of the pitch, but the green-kit keeper deals with it. In an apparent show of jealousy, following this high-octane moment, the yellow keeper catches the ball in the other goal and hugs it on the floor. He obviously bloody loves football. 



90 minutes in: I was led to believe it should all be over by now. However, they've added another four minutes to the game. I think to myself "this must be a wind-up". I shall be submitting a formal complaint to Wembley stadium and the football bosses. I had accounted for this time and had other activities planned.

Sterling has come off, someone else has gone on. I mean, this is pretty much finished now, isn't it? England win, nice one, cheers. 

Two minutes left... Think I'll have a Chinese takeaway for tea. 

Three lions on the shirt. 

Crispy beef, BBQ ribs, fried rice. 

Ciao for now. 


England 1 - Croatia 0



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