Hear ye, hear ye...what's nine years between friends? Not a lot, especially if your friends don't remember you. Yes, in joyous news for people randomly stumbling across this electronic totem pole of dribbling nonsense everywhere, The Blue & White 'Un returns after a lifetime's (if you're an unlucky domestic pet) absence, bigger and better than ever before. Well, probably not bigger and better actually, because it's only once a week now, but hell...shall we just get on with it?
Saturday June 19th
While the entire country spends the day vomiting on copies of The Sun's ill-fated EASY front page chuckle at the trifle England's qualifying group once seemed, the really bad news is that Albion are pipped by Swindon in the hot hot heat to sign midfielder David Prutton. Cameroon become the first team to exit The Greatest Show On Earth stage left with a timid biffing by Denmark. Holland beat Japan to pretty much guarantee their progress.
Sunday June 20th
Them plucky Kiwis embark on the greatest result in their history part two, taking the lead against Italy, who need a dodgy penalty to scrape a draw. Brazil stuff the Ivory Coast, who conspire to get Kaka sent off with the sort of playmaking which will one day result in instant beheading before an army of baying Corinthian Casuals. Sven looks resplendent in a white tracksuit combo which goes beautifully with his hair.
Monday June 21st
Portugal stuff the mysterious North Koreans 7-0 on a vintage day for anyone who enjoys watching Cristiano Ronaldo's humble little face turn from outraged tantrum to egotastic smuggard and back again. That's them almost definitely through, and there's not a thing a showpiece group finale against Brazil on Friday can do about it.
Tuesday June 22nd
Classic out of season news day part 4,112: Bournemouth are planning to stick Albion fans in a squalid temporary shanty hut when we visit next season. "I am sure other fans won't want to help us in any way so that is our plan," says Cherries Chairman Eddie Mitchell, launching a charm offensive which conveniently forgets the effort certain groups of fans put into saving Bourneo when they hit a spot of bother a few years back. Most Albion fans resist the urge to fire back a letter extolling the virtues of the visiting section at Fortress Withdean.
In the worst-kept secret since Russell Slade was sacked, Albion confirm the Falmer Theatre of Broken Dreams will actually be called the American Express Community Stadium, sparking frenzied debate among fans. Will it be called the Amex Arena? The American Expresso? The Amex Annexe? It's a fascinating conundrum which will surely rumble on until everyone dies of boredom.
The biggest upset of the World Cup is avoided when plucky France fail to grab a win against South Africa, who knock them out at a canter but still become the first host nation to fail to qualify for the knock-out stages. Argentina beat Greece, giving a bunch of defenders in white the runaround in a sneak preview for England fans. Yakubu misses an open goal as Nigeria get suckered by South Korea.
Wednesday June 23rd
England batter Slovenia 1-0 in a magnificent occasion which finally underlines the majestic finesse of our national team, who are surely heading for glory/heartbreak/immortality/despair after Jermain Defoe's winner. Fab says it's cos he offered all the players a beer the previous night, which sounds a little bit like that time when William Hague wore a baseball cap and tried to get down with the peasants. Alas, a last-minute Yoo Ess Eh goal means Ingerlund finish second, leaving everyone scratching their heads at their wallchart at a route to the final which is now approximately as easy as ice skating on a cattle grid.
Head Honcho extraordinaire Tony Bloom tells Albion fans not to panic about the lack of signings thusfar, which is pretty easy when you're sat in the pub on a Wednesday afternoon after lashings of frothy lager watching grown men do the can can to World in Motion.
Thursday June 24th
Arrivederci ad infinitum...Italy lose 3-2 to Slovakia and are out of The Greatest Spectacle We're Ever Seen Ever. Marcello Lippi beats a hasty retreat down the tunnel, but he'll sleep with the fishes. Plucky New Zealand leave undefeated, but a 0-0 draw with Paraguay means they're out. Japan stuff Denmark to go through, causing Alan Shearer to opine their danger to the rest of the world.
All of which is but a drop in the river of believability compared to goings on in Plymouth, where Peter Reid's been given another gig. Insert guffaw here (to be swiftly renounced in the highly likely event of the great man leading them to a glorious title charge.)
Friday June 25th
Kaiser Beckenbauer breaks out the laughs after slagging off England all week. "For the fans, I hope for excitement - a draw, overtime, and then penalty kicks. And then, the Germans win. Sorry!" he burbles. Chortle.
Sky Sports links the Albion with Matt Sparrow, who (implausibly) fancies leaving Scunny after spending 94 years in midfield for them. Cue "Seagulls swoop for Sparrow", "Sparrow nests with Seagulls", "Sparrow defacates all over Tony Bloom's windscreen" and the rest.
In the most hotly-anticipated contest since Thursday, Portugal and Brazil contrive a 0-0 draw. Still, it could have been Switzerland-Honduras, which also finishes goalless. Spain beat Chile and the Ivory Coast batter North Korea. And now the knockout stage starts.
Quote of the Week
"We regretted the impact that it had. But we were in such a state that sometimes, for love, you can do clumsy gestures." Patrice Evra keeps it unclumsy while reflecting on the French squad's reaction to Le Sulk being expelled from the World Cup.