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Can Harry Kane and Gareth Southgate get over France Qatar World Cup exit to follow Ashes hero Ben Stokes' and Brendon McCullum's England success?

From The Newsroom by Peter Woodhouse

Now that the dust has well and truly settled on the men's football World Cup (one of the 'big guns' wins and England are knocked out in the quarter-finals: go figure) it's time to talk turkey.

No, I'm not talking about Harry Kane's second penalty versus France in the last eight but why – despite being enriched in billions – major tournament success remains elusive for the men since '1966 and all that'.

Howard Junior School's Harry Kane logo
Howard Junior School's Harry Kane logo

Contrast yet another promising but ultimately disappointing effort in Qatar with the Lionesses' Euro success last summer; and with the men's cricket team.

Cricket, let's not forget, is a poor relation to football. Its exposure can't compare, despite a thorough job done by Sky, as the sport is almost gone from terrestrial screens. As for money, Ben Stokes' bat-and-ball troops are well-paid but can't remotely approach the six-figure weekly sums earned by the hyped-up Premier League superstars.

Twenty-five years ago our national men's team was a laughing stock, regularly beaten by all and sundry in the Test arena and clueless in major one-day international tournaments.

England's Ben Stokes celebrates winning the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds. Photo: PA.
England's Ben Stokes celebrates winning the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds. Photo: PA.

But the leather-and-willow powers-that-were sorted it out, mainly by putting leading players on central contracts so that the England team's fortunes earned priority over the county game.

Fast-forward a quarter-century and England can boast numerous Ashes series wins, including a fabulous one away Down Under during the 2010–11 winter, shortly afterwards at one point being ranked number one Test team in the world, plus a 50-over world title and two T20 world titles.

Add to that skipper Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum inspiring a fearless historic 3-0 win in Pakistan this winter, to cap a fantastic first year in joint charge, and the contrast in fortunes is painfully obvious.

Can our soccer side also adapt and follow this success? Current England boss Gareth Southgate has done his best but I think the 56 years of (relative) failure and hurt since Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Bobby Charlton and company's Wembley heroics are so engrained and English football is so dominated by greedy clubs, I can't see it happening.

Can you imagine England footballers being on central contracts? I rest my case.

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