With the Afghanistan war shuffling slowly towards extra time, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond thinks it could end in every UK soldier’s worst nightmare – sudden death penalties.
“Having been there longer than World Wars I and II, Suez & the Falklands combined, the lads would’ve liked to bring home the silverware”, said Hammond. “Perhaps a victorious march up The Mall in autumn sunshine with cheering crowds and a Spitfire flypast. Realistically, we’ll probably have to slip in to Portsmouth as runners-up. After midnight. In late November.”
Nevertheless, Hammond, formerly global sales ambassador for Mogadon, rejected rumours of despondency amongst the troops. “True, our guys get a little twitchy when an Afghan Policeman has a pop with a semi-automatic and scores another own goal. There’s usually no real malice though. So we just shake hands. Then send a cruise missile to his family’s next wedding ‘by mistake’! It’s just a bit of banter between professionals really.”
“To be fair, our big 20th Century opponents usually wore identifiable uniforms with ‘distinctive’ badges and German writing on the side of their tanks. In hindsight that was probably a bit of a giveaway but very sporting of them. Although they haven’t let us win on penalties since.”
The Minister was asked about the likely end to the current match: “We’ve a poor record on shoot-outs” he accepted, “apart from Bloody Sunday and that Gibraltar Death on the Rock thing. We got some grief about those though; the other teams didn’t have even have guns apparently.”
“So, we may have to settle for a job well done in Afghanistan”, Hammond concluded. “Or not as the case may be. I’ve told the lads it’s not so much about winning as taking part that’s important. Churchill said that, I think.”