Patrick Crozier writes the editorial that The Times didn’t publish:
No right-thinking Englishman can fail to be shocked by the unspeakable events that took place at Upton Park on Wednesday. Wednesday 12th February 2003 will long be remembered as a day of national shame; the day when the flower of English manhood, opened a can of beer, sat down in front of the television and watched aghast as its champions, men they trusted, allowed themselves to be beaten by Australians at football.
There will be those, ignorant of the ways of the world, who will say “Hey, the Aussies beat us at cricket, rugby, tennis and just about anything else so why should we bothered about a game of football?” Oh Lord, have mercy on them for they know not what they do.
Football is far more than just another sport. Football is sport. All others are mere distractions. Literally. The whole purpose of inventing minor sports was to give undesirables something to do and Australians something to win at while we, silently and imperiously, continued to hog the main prize. Now, even that is under threat.
There have been worse times to have been an Englishman. Oh, hang about, there haven’t. But we have been humiliated before (remember Norway, remember Calais?) and we recovered then. The task now is to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and prepare for the fightback. Quite simply we must show the World who’s boss.
We must begin by conducting a full enquiry into what happened. We must look at all aspects that led to this defeat with the intention of ensuring it never happens again. We must end the club versus country conflict. We must allow our champions to rest. We must consider whether it is time to rid ourselves of clapped out has-beens like David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen and find room for the young stars of tomorrow. We must put pride aside and scour the world for the coaching techniques and tactical savvy that will restore our game to its proper place. No stone must go unturned. No sacred cow unslaughtered.
And having restored our team we must right the wrong. We must put piffling concerns such as European Cups, European Championships and Gulf Wars to one side. We must challenge the Australians to a series of footballing tests (perhaps we could call it a Test Series). Anytime, anywhere, any number of games. Let them choose the ground so that when we beat them none shall doubt our superiority – just like the Canadians did in ’72.
There are dark days ahead but we can take inspiration from the words of Field Marshal Haig in 1918: “With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight on to the end. The safety of our homes and the freedom of mankind alike depend on the conduct of each one of us at this critical moment.”