Ferenc Puskas (left) and Billy Wright lead out the Hungarian and English teams (Getty)
My colleague Peter Chapman has a theory that the English working classes realised that it was all up with Empire three years before the upper-classes. The moment of toffish disillusionment came with the Suez crisis of 1956. But, for the working man, the turning point was the England v Hungary football match at Wembley in 1953. England lost 6-3 to a Puskas-inspired Hungary. It was not just that England lost their proud record of never having lost an international match at home. It was also that they were hammered. Humiliated.
For me, however, the realisation that the sun had set on our footballing empire came 20 years later – with the England v Poland World Cup qualifying match of October 1973. England failed to get to the World Cup for the first time ever. That is why a World Cup qualifier against Poland, this Tuesday night, which England must win to get to Brazil 2014, is redolent with nostalgia and fear.
Here in Britain there have been a few grumbles about the partisan coverage the BBC is giving to the Olympics, with an obsessive focus on Britain’s position in the medals table and on local athletes. But I’m told that it is little different in other countries. Every nation focuses on its own athletes. As a result, every country is watching a different Olympics.
To check on the truth of this proposition, I have been perusing international sites. And it is certainly true that they reveal very distinct national concerns and anxieties. Over at Der Spiegel, they have a long article headlined “Can You Represent Germany If Your Lover is a Nazi?” The story is about Nadja Drygalla, a rower, who has left the Olympic village after it emerged that she is in a relationship “with a central figure in the far-right scene in Rostock”.
These are the pieces that caught our attention this morning: