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Len Twaddle’s True World Cup Diary
Published at last - the World Cup France 1998 diary of England’s football coach, before it was edited by the F.A

Excerpts picked by our reporter - Garen Ewing

Originally published in the fanzine 'ISBN'

12.10.97: Victory! I have led England to a stunning 0-0 victory against the supposed might of Italy. This proves my calling. The Sword of Truth has been passed to me, and I take it willingly. Last night, after the game, I dreamt I walked down a long corridor of heavenly light, I was wearing the Armour of God. At the end of the tunnel shone the World Cup and I walked majestically towards it, arms outstretched. A crowd surrounded me, cheering ‘Vive Len! Vive Len!’. The Queen threw a knighthood at me, resulting in a mild concussion, but I accepted it humbly. My Boys were all there - Alan Hero’s halo burned brightly that night. There was only one strange moment, when David Beckstarstruck, looking decidedly odd (horns, tail, the cloven hooves of a goat) fired a flaming arrow into my forehead, making me look a bit stupid - but still I marched on. I reached out to take the gleaming trophy... then I awoke. Nothing can stop me now. Sir Len Twaddle! Yes, me and Sir Alf Ramsbottom - the greatest men in English history. Note: I later asked Eileen Rainbow-Atlantis about the meaning of that flaming arrow. She consulted the Zodiac Chart and determined that the squad must arrive in France wearing beige.

Early June 98: The devil has infiltrated our camp. Bastard. That boy Sherry Teddingham has been caught with a woman painted by Satan. When I told him to score in training yesterday, that’s not what I’d envisioned! But I know what’s going on... it’s the Germans. I know how they play, oh yes I do. Their campaign starts early. I meditated for an hour in front of the altar, staring at the signed photo of Sir Alf Ramsbottom. He seemed to point at me with that golden light I see so often. I knew exactly what to do. I gave Sherry 1000 lines - ‘I shall not shag the spawn of Lilith’ - and had a statement made up by randomly choosing words from ‘Moby Dick’ - the second greatest book in the world. When I say randomly, of course I knew the spirit of Bobby Mooreorless was guiding me. I made Sherry read it out to the press. The Stiff Upper Lip shall not quiver. They must know who’s God boss!

The Boys and I are having a grand old time playing golf. Of course none of them wanted to play - but the threat of exclusion from the squad changed all that nonsense. We must present the right image to the world. Golf is a gentleman’s game, it separates us from the heathen panting barbarians that make up the rest of the qualified teams. A slight accident occurred when David Beckstarstruck hit a wild ball in my direction, resulting in my receiving a mild concussion. Apparently the first thing I said when I sat up in the the sand-pit was ‘We’re a bunch of cabbage farmers who couldn’t win a game against the Bognor Regis Girl Guides!’ I don’t know what came over me. Unfortunately a reporter from The Sun heard this, so I had to take action. I phoned the Militant Wing of the F.A and they slapped a D-Notice on him right away. The D-Notice was made of concrete and chained to his leg before being thrown in to the Costa Brava.

Training: The Boys are in fine form. Well most of them. Well, Alan Hero and Michael St. Owen are looking quite good. I’m very optimistic. There has been some dissent from the older members of the team. Tony AAdams turned up to training with a captain’s armband on. I told him to take it off and he had a right old go at me. He accused me of not knowing what the hell I was doing, that Alan Hero was an overrated granny’s boy, and most ridiculous of all, that I was treating my Boys like children! Needless to say I stamped my authority on him right away and gave him 1000 lines, ‘I shall not question the authority of God Mr. Twaddle.’

I’m worried about Paul Gastronomy. In order for him to lose weight I have him wear three ski suits, including the skis. His skill has really diminished. When Tony AAdams returned, he kicked Paul clean across the ground thinking he was the ball, smacking me in the head and resulting in a mild concussion. When I recovered I gave him more lines. I’m not sure about the mental attitude of Gareth Penaltygate either. By rights he should be breaking down every time he touches the ball, he should be in a cold sweat with the ever-present memory of '96 when we thrashed the Germans (on paper). But he seems perfectly happy and relaxed! I’ve sent him to the Team Psychiatrist to get the right level of paranoia into him.

Squad Selection Day: Everyone’s gone stark-raving bonkers. I’m the coach, and I pick the team! Well, with a little help from Eileen Rainbow-Atlantis. If the crystal pendulum doesn’t swing to the left when held over the player’s name, then they’re not in the team, its as simple as that! And, sadly, it was swinging - quite wildly actually - to the right when over Paul Gastronomy’s name. So he’s out. A slight breeze must have been blowing from somewhere, because it also swung to the right over Alan Hero’s name, but after a seventh attempt we managed to get the truth out of the crystal, with both of us holding it - in order to get more spiritual power into the quartz - it must have been running low.
In the hotel bar that night I felt sorry for Paul so bought him a few (well, 29) drinks. I hoped a hangover would delay the impact of the bad news I was to impart the next day. When I called him in to my office he seemed strangely positive, he came in playing keepsey-upsey with two footballs simultaneously. This went on for 15 minutes before he kicked the first ball out of the open window, it curved in a glittering arc of tinkerbell-dust before hitting the back of the net of the training ground goal. The other ball he headed into the wastepaper basket. I cleared my throat, ‘Paul, your skill isn’t what it used to be... I’m afraid you didn’t quite make it in to my squad...’ Before I could continue with my prepared speech, he was flying towards me, his right leg outstretched. I’d forgotten he was a 1st Dan black belt in Cantona-Jitsu. I just managed to block using a brilliant move taught to me by Arsene Wenger whilst I was at Monaco. Unfortunately this memory led to a flashback of my brilliant career - faces from my past swirled around me - the heady days of Spurs... England... Swindon... Chelsea... I was brought in to the present by a right hook from Paul Gastronony, resulting in a mild concussion.

Whilst I was out, I had a vision. The England team of ‘66 were sat at the Round Table, each wearing The Armour of God. Bobby Charlatan stood up and raised his hands, ‘Len! Len! Your country needs you! You must return when your country is in need! It’s in your contract!’. Geoff the First and Bobby Mooreorless held up the Jules Rimet Trophy - it was the Holy Grail... I reached out for it... and then everything went black.

10.6.98: Craig McBrownie makes me so mad. He’s got no idea about being a team leader. Brazil thrash his little clan of tartan losers and he comes out smiling! Where were his excuses? He didn’t even try to blame the ref! He’s also guilty of the worst crime in professional football management. He uses honesty... ha! What a weakness. And he recognises the support of his fans... what the hell have they got to do with it?

I, on the other hand, gave my most brilliant press conference yet. One answer I was particularly pleased with. I reprint it here, verbatim, from my own tape-recording of the event.

Vulture Journo: ‘Mr. Twaddle, how do you think the problems with Sherry Teddingham and Paul Gastronomy will affect England’s performance against Tunisia on Tuesday?’
I: ‘Well, at the end of the day, football’s all about opinions, and that’s yours. I’m confident we’ll do our best. We’re here for one reason and one reason only - to play football. At the end of the day we’ve got a job to do and we’re going to do it. I’m confident, the Boys are confident. Sherry’s had an experience and he’s a better person - a better footballer, at the end of the day, because of it. Paul and I came to a mutual understanding, he’s a mature professional. I’m not ruling him out of future plans for England once he gets those skis off... er.. I mean gets his fitness level up. At the end of the day it’s all about football, at the end of the day.’

I was so restrained! It was sheer poetry. The golden light of ‘66 shines within me.

16.6.98: Tunisia withered like the Wicked Witch of the West... only from the east... before the mighty sword of England, which I wield with the deftness of Ahab!

20.6.98: Damn I’m fed up of croissants! Where is my English Breakfast. Give me an English Breakfast and I will take Romania with eleven men plus substitutes... They will pray for the return of Ceausescu!

Back to my earthly mission - Craig McBrownie phoned to wish me luck for Monday’s game. He’s such a nice bloke, and really good coach too. I did take exception to one thing he said though. He asked if I was going to play Michael St. Owen in the game. Of course I put him straight right away, in a nice fatherly manner - nothing too condescending. I told him he was far too young and inexperienced for such an important match. I’m sure McBrownie will benefit from my greater footballing experience and use it to his own advantage with... er, I forget who he’s coach for.

The Boys have been playing a little game with the press which I thought I’d join in with - in order to present to the world the image of a team at one with itself and full of confidence. In interviews they’ve been secretly trying to slip song titles in to their answers. This was mine;

Vulture Journo: ‘Len, do the Romanians pose a real threat to your 3-5-2 system?’
I: ‘O Come All Ye Faithful.’

23.6.98: I am the Robin Hood of World Football. I take from the rich and give to the poor - in this case I, and my band of Merry Men, gave 2 goals to the poor, that is to say, the Gypsy Romanians. It’s all part of my big plan. Yes, my true vocation is being revealed to me... we must meet the Argentinians... revenge will be mine! We had to give the game to those political-systemless pseudo-Europeans in order to achieve this.

Before my true task was revealed to me - in a vision involving Bobby Mooreorless, a trombone and three singing haddock, I admit I was a little angry after the match and ran at goalie David Fishermen with, as reported to me later, ‘a crazed expression on my face’. David had a sudden flashback to some Arsenal v Chelsea game or something, and thought my head was a football kicked by Dennis Wisefinger, whereupon the resulting save (which all around agreed was magnificent) resulted in my receiving a mild concussion.

One bright point to the game - Michael St. Owen - I think he’s ready now, for surely the light of God does shine out of his arse.

(Reporter’s note: Before the Colombia v England game on the 26th June, coach Len Twaddle received a major concussion when the copy of the Revised Standard Version of The Bible he threw at the fourth official in the tunnel ricocheted off his L.E.D board and hit Len square on the head. In true Twaddle style, he insisted on going on...)

27.6.98: My legend is spawned. Victory is mine. I have shown the world how Mighty England and her Brittanic Sword of God will deal with the Colombian drug barons and their haystack-haired players. Let them return to a hail of bullets!

30.6.98: Argentina do not scare me. Where are they now without their Madonna and her Hand of God. I wield The Sword of God! I remember, it was the first time I witnessed the golden light that has shown me the way ever since. Bobby Bobson was shouting from the touch-line, ‘Don’t lose! For God’s sake, don’t lose!!’... what an inspiration he was to the team. Then came Madonna, like the Virgin, in his True Blue he leaped and his hand, surrounded by that golden light, touched for the very first time. It was slow motion, he and Peter Shatton flying in the air like mating ducks. The referee gave the goal... it was all over. The spirit of ‘66 was dying. I knew then it was my mission to return the power of those football knights to the Round Table!

The Game: Whilst walking to the coach’s dug-out I tripped over David Beckstarstruck’s football boot, hitting my head on Paul Wince’s ankle, whose flailing arm poked David Batty-as-a-Hen in the eye, resulting in my having a mild concussion.

First Half: Things took a turn for the worse when David Fisherman was wrongly accused of bringing down an Argie in his area. I think the referee’s really a German. I know how they work, I do. How could I inspire my boys? I remembered the words of the great Bobby Bobson from ‘86 and shouted from the touchline, ‘Don’t lose! For God’s sake don’t lose!!’. This seemed to work as Michael St. Owen did a magnificent and truly justified dive in the Argie’s penalty area. It only required the right foot of Alan Hero (whose socks I had secretly dipped into a font of Gary Linekar’s dribble before the match) to set things right again. The spirit of ‘66 was coursing through my veins. David Beckstarstruck passed to St. Owen who ran so fast that he metamorphosised into Geoff the First on the edge of the penalty area, the golden light beamed down from the sky and lit a holy path for the ball to fly straight and true in to the net! ‘We’ve won the world cup!!’ I shouted. My assistant, John Gormless had to calm me down and explain that this was only the first half of a second round game. I wasn’t sure what the hell he was on about. I climbed the steps to receive the trophy, but suddenly I was surrounded by a mass of festering Argentinians who were burning the English flag! I lashed out, but was thrown back on to the pitch, naked, landing on my head.
Second Half: By the time I came to, the invasion had started! From somewhere, no doubt through bribery of the referee, the Patagonians, or whoever we were playing, had stolen another goal! I went to the touch line to shout more inspiration, ‘Kill the bastards! Take no prisoners!’ John Gormless tried to get me put on some clothes, but I was at one with the spirit of ‘66 which had melded with the spirits of ‘86 and ‘45... Margaret Thatcher appeared as a vision of the Holy Spirit... God, the ‘80s! Those were the days, when footballers played with sporting skill and loved their game, when shorts really were shorts, when hair had style and men wore make-up with panache!
The enemy were attacking once again, they took the ball right in to Port Stanley, bravely defended by Tony AAdams and Solly Bigchap. At one point a Patagonian tribesman called Gabriel Bastid fired from the coast, and Fisherman made a glorious save using only the great skill of his fine moustache. But Queen Charlotte Bay had fallen, Pebbel Island was in the danger zone.

Suddenly Beckstarstruck was brought down by some crazed inhabitant of Tierra del Fuego. While he was still on the ground the philistine leaned down to him and whispered something in his ear... apparently he said ‘Posh Spice sings like a gorilla, dances like a vacuum cleaner, has the charisma of a squeezed-out lemon and her big cheesey grin makes her look like a demented carp’. This remarkable character observation seemed to offend my Boy Beckstarstruck and he lashed out. The native stood around for a bit thinking then fell to the ground in a heap, clutching his ear-lobe in pain.. Satan produced his red card and we were a man down! I tried singing. Back to the good old days and ‘Diamond Lights’... ‘Darling I love you...’ I sang out, hoping to inspire my Boys to retake Cape Dolphin.
But all was lost. The referee blew the whistle and the fate of our Corned Beef imports rested on the Communist-inspired roulette of a penalty shoot out.

I got down on my naked knees and prayed, ‘By the great spirit of Bobby Mooreorless, Lord... show me the way!’. At that the heavens opened and the golden light I knew so well shone down on the troops that would bombard the Argentinian fortress... Paul Wince was brave to try taking a penalty whilst on crutches, and David Batty-as-a-Hen made a gallant attempt with his one good eye... John Gormless , clutching a framed photo of Tony Blair, punched me in the face and I received a mild concussion.

12.7.98: As I lie here in this bed, with clean white sheets and nurses ready to see to my every whim, I realise it was not the World Cup I was meant to grasp. Last night I had a vision. Bobby Charlatan and Nobbly Piles placed a crown of thorns upon my head and said unto me... ‘They do not understand yet, you must walk through the hellfire of The Sun and the Daily Mirror before you are revealed as the true saviour!’ The faces of Alan Hero and Michael St. Owen swam in front of my eyes and the great spirit of ‘66, accompanied by the Three Lions of Truth pointed towards Sweden. ‘There lies thy true calling!’ First I must seek out some English players from the Premiership. I know they’re somewhere in there.
Sweden... they are the great whale that will be slain and verily I shall be taken up in to the golden light of truth to take my place on the throne of Camelot as King of the New Millennium. Call me Ishmael!

© Garen Ewing 1998 & 2005.

All content © Garen Ewing 2009 (unless otherwise stated). Please do not use anything from this website without contacting me first, thanks.