The Joy of Hair: how England got over Beckham

The perestroika era arrives for England’s players

We all saw it. The goal had more than a touch of luck about it, with Steven Gerrard’s cross deflected off of the Ukrainian defender’s ballbags, past the keeper for Wayne Rooney to nod home from six inches.

But it was the celebration that caught the eye. Because it was in Rooney’s celebration that we saw an England team usher in a new age and finally move on from the tyrrany of the Beckham era.

To recap, Rooney celebrated his goal in unique fashion, by pretending to apply hairspray.

It emerged afterwards that Rooney, hugely enjoying the versatility of his hair implants, has been sharing product with Andy Carroll.

This was a simple act of hair-kinship between two strikers which would have been unthinkable during Beckham’s decade or so in the England team.

While Beckham was an excellent player, there can be no doubt that he would never allow anyone else to show creativity when it came to hair, and this hampered the team’s performances. With his lucrative contracts with both Gillette and Brylcreem, Beckham stamped out any meek, honest expression of grooming from any other England player.*

Even two years ago, Beckham was at the 2010 World Cup simply  as ‘player liaison’, a made-up role which ensured the subjugation of our players to ensure none of them made an attempt to, as they say in the rap game, ‘shine on his shit.’ And what happened? It was England’s most miserable tournament performance in living memory, perhaps ever.

It is only now, with Beckham occupied growing his luxuriant moustache in preparation for the Olympics – where, incidentally, it can be presumed Great Britain will perform atrociously – that this England Euro 2012 squad are beginning to express themselves hair-wise.

Rooney appears to be developing a quiff of which Elvis Presley would approve; Andy Carroll is there, ponytail full and in effect, flourishing the full mane towards the end of games; Ashley Cole, who has never showed any signs of freedom of hair expression previously, is now attempting a junior mohawk; even Jermain Defoe, while rarely seen on the pitch, is showing his support with his subtly effective peroxide dye job.

Clearly, this is a team just beginning to express itself. The dark days of the Beckham autocracy are still a very recent memory for many of these players and their confidence is, for some, including Gerrard, fragile at best.

It is true that England may not yet have enough style, team spirit and hair-quality to pull off a tournament win, or even a final appearance. However, this is already the most promising England performance since Euro 96 – the last major tournament over which Beckham’s malign influence did not loom.

Going into the quarter-final against Italy, when faced with Balotelli’s dazzling blond mohican, and Andrea Pirlo’s Steven Tyleresque layer and flow, England remain underdogs.

But what we do have is a group of players unafraid to openly experiment with different hairstyles with the full support of their team-mates. The choice of Krakow as base for England has been questioned by many, but perhaps being in the land where the Perestroika movement rose and eventually crushed the tyrannical Soviet regime, is exactly the sort of historical influence our lads need right now.

We are becoming a team of which England hair greats such as Kevin Keegan and Chris Waddle can be rightly proud. However far we eventually progress in this tournament our lads are doing it together and I, with my twin loves of football and hair, am immensely proud.

*Bar Glen Johnson who effectively acted as a foil for Beckham’s hairstyles down the right flank, giving him something to work off, and David James, whose constant pratfalls nullified his threat.

Why Movember epitomises everything wrong with our once-great nation

Here is Lemmy's considered opinion of Movember

This year, the strange and disturbing event called Movember has gone up a gear. Like winter flu, it appears to be becoming more prevalent.

Friends, colleagues and Twitterers have invited me to join in the Movember ‘fun’.

To each and every one my stance has been firm. Unwavering. I am not going to ‘do’ Movember. Not this year, not ever.

The whole idea is preposterous, and an insult to the noble tradition of moustache-growing in this country. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Movember strikes at the heart of everything that is wrong with this country – what the Sun rightly calls Broken Britain.

The problem stems from the fact that those ill-advised people who participate in Movember grow their moustaches for one month only. Thirty days. And then shave it off.

This is half-hearted. No decent moustache has ever been grown in thirty days. You would not find a Lemmy, a Merv Hughes or an Oliver Reed countenancing doing Movember. It is shilly-shallying. Unmanly.

Fortunately Oliver Reed did not live to witness the rise of Movember

I first became aware of Movember when I worked at the Science Museum a few years back. There was a cheerful fellow called Ben Jackson who was getting involved.

He proudly grew the thing, and towards the end of the month had something which was showing promise. Given time, Ben’s moustache had a good chance of becoming luxurious and sweeping.

But despite this sapling promise, he remained set upon shaving the thing off. I could not bear the thought of it. To shave now was akin to drowning a newborn kitten in the bathwater.

I spoke to Ben, man to man. He revealed that he did not want to shave off his moustache. He liked the look of it. It gave him something to stroke without putting his hands down his trousers. But his girlfriend was opposed and had told him that as soon as the month was done to get rid.

So moved was I by this tale of woe I transformed from a semi-comatose Outlook monkey to a Man of Action. That very day, the 29th of November, I asked everyone at work to donate to save Ben’s moustache. Many people were of a like mind and in the notoriously parsimonious corridors of the Science Museum donations of above £75 were received.

At the end of the day, in a small presentation in front of colleagues, I handed over the money.

Ben was overwhelmed. He said he would continue to grow the thing for another month at least. There were hugs, there were kisses. It was emotional.

However, his girlfriend remained an implacable foe – a sort of Skeletor to his He-Man. Every night she was on at him to shave it off.

Don’t rise to the bait, I counselled.

Another week went past and Ben’s upper lip took on new heights of magnificence. If Lord Kitchener had seen him at that point he would have made him an officer on the spot.

A few days later I saw him in the staff kitchen, looking ashen. ‘She says it’s got to go by Christmas,’ he said.
‘She can’t mean that.’
‘She does,’ he quavered. ‘She does mean it. If I don’t have the thing off by Christmas…well.’
‘It is the moustache or her?’
He nodded.
‘Well, Ben,’ I said, realising we had reached the endgame. ‘Only you can decide.’

The next day I went into Ben’s office. It was a painful sight. Where once had been a magnificent hunter-gatherer type now sat a pale, pitiful wretch.  The moustache had gone and with it his manly self-esteem.

This sad tale reveals what Movember can do to a man. It shows that we live in an age when the ironic pose is prized more than sustained commitment.

Movember is emblematic of how far we have fallen as a nation since the great days of Empire. If we are ever to recover our battered national pride and recapture the glory days of the past, Movember must go.

"Grow a moustache in thirty days? Whoever said such a thing deserves to be shot!"

The football haircut XI

Feeling we had got off to a convincing start, I put the thing on Facebook. First up was Simon Chadwick with Chris Waddle. I liked the rapidity of response. When people think of haircuts and football, deep down, they have one in their heart. And for many that person is Chris Waddle, and his mullet. Waddle retained the mullet for a full decade, keeping it well into the ‘90s, long after such things were fashionable. In a strong mullet-field (Hendrie, Lawrenson, a young Gordon Strachan) Waddle was in.

Then John Armstrong raised Jason Lee. For John, the matter of football haircuts starts and finishes with Lee. There are few footballers who can claim to have invented a hairstyle. And Jason Lee, while a half-decent footballer, will primarily be remembered for his contribution to the world of hair: the pineapple.

Jason Lee – pineapple. End of.

I work with a few scientists and that breed are known for their precision. So it was no surprise that Julia Wilson came up not only with a name, but also a year. She backed Graeme Souness, in his 1979 vintage. This was when his combination of moustache and volume was at its peak. The Scottish psycho look, if you like, or what is now formally known as the Begbie.