Flags at half mast for sad Beckham

PUBLISHED: 11:45 06 July 2006 | UPDATED: 10:23 06 May 2010

DRIVING to work on Monday morning, I had a nagging feeling that there had been a significant change in the street scene but could not immediately put my finger on it. Then it hit me, almost like a rocket from Stevie Gerrard s boot heading goalwards. Durin

DRIVING to work on Monday morning, I had a nagging feeling that there had been a significant change in the street scene but could not immediately put my finger on it.

Then it hit me, almost like a rocket from Stevie Gerrard's boot heading goalwards.

During the journey of around six miles I spotted just one car still flying an England flag.

On Friday's trip home the highway was awash with red and white pennants fluttering from hundreds of cars.

But they all but disappeared after that heart-wrenching defeat by the Portugese, perhaps ripped off in disgust or more likely in despair.

Usually, I'm not one to feel the slightest compassion for someone who has made untold millions simply because he is good at kicking a ball but I must say I felt sorry for David Beckham as he sat sobbing after hobbling off injured from the quarter final clash.

My guess then was that somehow he knew England were about to lose and be dumped out of the World Cup, and the dream that he had had since a wide-eyed boy was about to be shattered.

He would have been right, we soon realised, but now we understand that mostly those tears were for an era coming to an end.

Dear David, who I had come to regard as the Roy of the Rovers of the football world for his honesty, integrity and all round good egg-edness, had decided some time before the challenges in Germany to step down as captain of England after a five-year reign, we learned.

It came as a bit of a shock to the nation, no doubt, but his reasoning that the team under a new manager needed a fresh start was commendable.

Although he made it clear that he would still be available for national duty, Bend It Like Himself must at 31 be thinking about retirement from the game to which he has given so much.

Now it will be interesting to see what sort of honour comes his way from the Queen. There's bound to be something soon for all his sterling service but I reckon failure to lift the World Cup has, for the moment at least, put the kybosh on a knighthood being conferred.

Putting aside the disappointment of England's performance in the World Cup, I must admit to a tingle of pleasure at something I learned last week.

Quite a while ago in this column I noted that the ancient Cromwell Hotel in Stevenage High Street had a new owner which had changed the name to The Corus Hotel, and opined that customers would continue to call it the Cromwell because that is what it had been known as for donkey's years.

Last week I spotted an advert for the said establishment which read: "The Cromwell Hotel (formerly known as Corus)."

Could this be right, or had there been an inadvertent switch of names?

So I rang the hotel and was told that, yes, a new owner was taking over so Corus was being dropped and The Cromwell was back in favour.

So at least that was a much better outcome than the World Cup.


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