He Didn't Save the Queen

There's not much good to be said about the English team and not much bad about the Israelis. England was better than Israel before the game and still better after it. But Israel wasn't too bad. Only time will tell whether the point we scored was good - or pointless.

More than God saved the Queen last night, He saved our team, mainly in the second half. Dror Kashtan's alignment was offensive, but it was the defense which saved the day.

Now the experts, headed by Kashtan pundits, will say that the bottom line is the decisive one; that the final result is the one that counts; that all that almost ends well is not all well. They will all be right. And yet, the home team did its best yesterday.

After all, one cannot ignore the real, customary standard of Israeli soccer, which is pretty inferior at best; one cannot expect it suddenly, in one fateful day, to improve unrecognizably.

Those who belong to the Church of England probably know a chapter from the New Testament, and maybe one from the old one too. So they should have known that the Holy Land is the place of miracles, of the loaves and fishes. But the English players ran onto the field too sure of themselves and failed to notice that Israel had more than 11 players, it had luck too. Yes, we had our miracle; we emerged intact.

Great Britain was once known as an empire on which the sun never sets. Yesterday, in Ramat Gan, the imperial sun set, darkening the English world - while beaming on us. The visitors and their fans were still singing something at the beginning, calling to save their queen, but after that they didn't make enough effort to save her. Our players, however, put all they had into the game, as though Israel had a king, or at least a president. As if they had anyone to struggle for.

Tomorrow is a new day and preparations will begin for a new game. There's always another game to focus on. Perhaps it's a matter of wish fulfillment and all the tedious, hollow mantras will surprise us again by coming true - "on a good day we can do it," and "anything could happen in the game".

The English have their glorious Albion tradition, but we have an ancient history; we have hope and hope will ultimately prevail. Even if we don't take part in the European Championship or World Championship because of some tie or other in the next 50 years, nobod will be able to defeat the 2000-year-old hope.