In Competition No. 2955 you were invited to supply a report on a Uefa Euro 2016 match written in the florid style beloved of some sportswriters. There was some inspired awfulness on display this week. How about this, from Mike Morrison: ‘The craven defence unravelled like cartoon knitwear, enabling Dottirdottir, the archetype of stoic strategy, to blithely torpedo the decider through the enmeshed architraves of triumph.’ John O’Byrne, Josh Ekroy and Derek Morgan were on impressively toe-curling form too, and those entries printed below earn their authors £25 each. Adrian Fry earns £30.
Spain’s three-nil defeat of Turkey demonstrated how, in Spanish hands at least, soccer is a language whose finest conjugations come by way of logorrhoeic feet, fully cognizant that the divide between Art and craft exists unpatrolled by linesmen. Morata and Nolito — their names anagrammatic of one another but for the handful of letters that make all the difference — had little choice, arithmetically, but to share out the goals unequally. That the lion’s share went to Morato was fitting; the bravery of his attack had Serengeti written through it like outsize feline incisor through impala flesh. Andres Intesta, cocktailing aplomb of gazelle and seagull acuity as he set up two of the Spanish goals, might have found being named Man of the Match a cruel reminder of the species he’d so effortlessly ceased to resemble. The Turks, stupefied as Dr Watson at Reichenbach, excelled in the role of vanquished foe.
The ball’s preposterous trajectory defied classical Newtonian dynamics but not Northern Ireland’s goalkeeper. ’Twas this giant’s cause to block its netbound way with a ready hand of Ulster, one of many acts of defiance against German bombardment unrivalled since the Blitz of Belfast. Mountainous Michael McGovern was mournful only momentarily after an erzatz-sounding German, Gomez, bisected the staunch defenders with a slithering shot harder to grasp than anything written by Nietzsche.