Send Them Victorious

Send Them Victorious

England's Path to Glory 2006-2010

As another World Cup campaign is upon us, England expects, none more so than the Wing Commander, whose past reports on England matches magnificently capture the John Bull spirit of fevered xenophobia and deluded optimism.


Since 2006, under the guise of the Wing Commander, a somewhat xenophobic veteran of numerous campaigns including the Boer War, David Stubbs has written reports on every major England fixture. These lay stress just not on the inestimable virtues of the England team, who merely by being English hold an advantage over the opposition, but on the shabby deficiencies of their hapless foreign opponents. They're larded with historical reference and cultural speculation as to the frightfulness of the swarthy foe. England, as ever, expects in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup. These reports capture the essence of fervent, St George cross flag waving optimism as footballing fever grips the nation.

These reports are interspersed with a brace of other football-based characters conceived by Stubbs, including Hartley Sebag-Ffiennes, pompous aesthete and Arsenal supporter, Hugh McLaughton, the broadsheet correspondent nostalgic for football's golden age of voluminous shorts and lace up balls, Self Righteous Liverpool fan and the appallingly sleazy Inappropriate Championship Manager. They amount to an unrivalled compendium of satire on the febrile and fervent world of modern football.

Sample quote (from a match report against Russia): “Upfront, they [the Russians] were miserably ineffective. Small wonder that many Russians are wistful for the days of Stalin – there, at least, was a man who, when faced with his rivals and opponents, wasn’t afraid to shoot.”

Wing Commander Stubbs' England match reports make me weep with laughter. Ben Marshall, The Guardian


Football is all too often a serious business, so for extreme light relief turn to David Stubbs’ bug-eyed, handlebar-moustached match reporter of England internationals – a retired wing commander and Boer War veteran who believes firmly in England, Empire, flogging his manservant, and the virtues of John Terry’s firm, oak thighs. Defeats are painted as morale-boosting victories (“Excellent Englishmen Rout Crying Frenchwomen 0-1″ is the headline for a March, 2008 loss), while all opponents, by their mere foreign nature, are barely worthy of competing against the mighty flag of St. George. ~ Waterstones - A World Cup Reading List 2014,

The funniest World Cup book of all time. ~ Brian Phillips, Dirty Tackle, Yahoo Sports Most countries – the notable exception being the U.S. – are fired up for the soccer World Cup, which starts next week in South Africa. While the match commentary will no doubt get overheated, David Stubbs’ new book “Send Them Victorious” is a cool, quizzical look at the self-delusion of the entire English soccer industry. For those readers whose sporting knowledge is on par with the Crane brothers from “Frazier,” the story goes like this: The one and only time England won the World Cup was in the 1966 final against West Germany, when Beatlemania was in bloom, and man had yet to set foot on the moon. Since then, many words of punditry, tears, as well as lager and kebabs have been wasted in England, all the while singing the vain refrain of “football’s coming home,” which roughly translates as “we invented it, so we should be allowed to win its sometime.” Meanwhile, at the back of each English soccer supporter’s mind, there is the pesky fact that Brazil has won the cup five times, Italy four times, Germany three times and Argentina twice. Stubbs neatly skewers his targets–team managers, players, commentators and self-righteous fans–capturing through the prism of soccer how the English see themselves, how they would like to be seen and most importantly, how they really are. “Send Them Victorious” is published by Zero Books. ~ Paul Sharma, Wall Street Journal

Anyway, the English papers have been embarrassing themselves today, as you'd expect. It's been war this, blitz that, Churchill speeches the other. Any English fan thoroughly sick of this myopic nonsense – and anyone else interested in football, frankly – is advised to read a new book called Send Them Victorious: England's Path To Glory 2006-2010 by David Stubbs. A series of England match reports written by "biased but fair" jingoistic Boer War veteran The Wing Commander, it gives both the Fourth Estate and the players they overhype a right old shoeing, and is pretty much the funniest book about football ever written. Here's a tinder-dry snippet from an England-Germany report: "It is no exaggeration, but rather an imaginative simile, to compare this game to World War II – World War II, that is, minus the participation of Churchill, Field Marshall Montgomery, Adolf Hitler, Herman Goering, and Douglas Bader, who like our own Frank Lampard, suffered from the handicap of not being able to use his legs in any effective way." You have got to love this book. ~ Scott Murray, The Guardian

The Bulldog spirit in print has never before reached these heights.  This is England match reporting as if written by Al Murray's Pub Landlord.   Read it and weep with laughter while remembering World Cup 2010's what-might-have-beens before we actually met those pesky foreigners on the pitch of battle.

~ Philosophy Football News

David Stubbs's England match reports make me weep with laughter. ~ Ben Marshall, The Guardian

David Stubbs
David Stubbs David Stubbs began working life as a freelance journalist in 1986, contributing to Melody Maker, whose staff he joined in 1987. As well as h...
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