(I honestly laughed myself to sleep last night after this)

This is perhaps my most technically ambitious post, as I am trying to capture one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments, and present it to anonymous strangers over the Internet in such a way that retains some of its original hysterical hilarity; so if you don’t find this at least vaguely amusing, I apologise in advance for ruining this t-shirt slogan-worthy idea for you.

I must also introduce the persons of the events before their discussion, so as to provide the necessary context for you to (hopefully) find this post funny. I was there, and my father was there, whose comedic style is usually one of composed and logical piss-taking; we were watching the Tottenham – Dnipro game, in which the former, our team, were trying to overturn a defeat against the latter, the visiting side from Ukraine; and Tottenham’s ineffective striker Roberto Soldado will be discussed, as will be current Tottenham boss and first-time manager Tim ‘Tactics’ Sherwood, a straight-talking Londoner, and former Tottenham manager Harry ‘Car Window Interview’ Redknapp, who is the archetypal London lad, and a very experienced manager.

After a goalless first half, in which we were actually losing because this was a cup match and we had lost the first leg in Ukraine one-nil, my Dad ironically moaned at the referee, parodying the genuine complaints of most football fans; he said that he wanted the ref to be an ‘early blower’ regarding marginal decisions, of course favouring our side in any debatable occurrence, as we are the much bigger team, who will attract much bigger TV audiences for the competition, and therefore deserve preferential treatment from the match officials, right?

He then extended his sarcastic criticism of the officials to a criticism of Tim and his naivety in not bribing the match officials properly: ‘Forget all these modern foreign fitness coaches, what Tim needs to do is employ some former News Of The World journalists and ‘Arry’s mates in the press to hang out around nightclubs and pubs in London to take demeaning pictures of the Linesmen [Referee’s assistants], then pop into the Referees’ dressing room before the game, show them the pictures, leave them an envelope of money and walk away, no questions asked.’

Promptly, Dnipro scored from a free kick, to which our usual anger and swearing was replaced by a continuation of this joke, that it was really Tim’s fault for not bribing the Referee correctly, and thus the Ref was not an ‘early blower’ and so did not disallow the goal for no reason that than we’re the big team.

We then reasoned that Tim did not have the appropriate nightclub pictures of the Linesman by that goal, so he had no reason to tell the Referee to disallow the goal.

However, while we were moaning in mockery (perhaps to hide our sadness at our impending exit from this cup), Tottenham put a decent attack together, finishing with Soldado sliding the ball into the net for the equaliser. The crowd went wild, and me and my Dad leapt up, shouting unusually emphatically ‘Soldado scored a goal! Soldado scored a goal!’ Sadly, he had not; the linesman near the Dnipro goal now flagged for offside, leading to cries of ‘Soldado’s not scored a goal! Soldado’s not scored a goal!’ around our living room.

Continuing our growing hysteria, my Dad quickly realised that instead of Tim having the necessary pictures to bribe the Linesmen, it was Dnipro who had such pictures; quickly generalising an entire country out of sheer confused emotion, and with the passion of a man whose entire world was revealed to be a hideously shameful lie, he jumped to his feet, screaming ‘UKRAINE HAS THE PICTURES! UKRAINE HAS THE PICTURES!’, somehow dwarfing the entire match and broader political conflict in Ukraine in one muddled exclamation of despair and slightly cracking vocal chords. Ukraine has the pictures!

My laughter continued for about another two minutes, as he struggled to come to terms with this realisation; by this point, we had been scheming about Tim’s compromising picture-owning and the implications thereof for five solid minutes, and this expectation and hope in Tim’s practical managerial methods came crashing down as the Linesman’s flag did; Ukraine has the pictures!

Was their goal offside? Probably not. Was Soldado’s? Probably not. But this didn’t matter; we had bought into this fantasy of Tim’s picture owning, and fantasised about its impacts within this game, and what a development it was for Tim as a manager – if he had grasped the importance of photographing Referees in compromising situations at this early stage of his career, think how effective he could be in a decade! But alas, Ukraine has the pictures!

Ukraine had the pictures all along.

I think this quote, which may even be a meme by this point, is so brilliant because of its versatility; it is meaningless by itself, as a single (or divided) country cannot itself possess photos, and the specific focus of ‘the’ pictures makes it seem like an in-joke by its very linguistics. I said that such a quote was t-shirt-worthy, and it is; if ever I grow this blog to the extent that I can sell merchandise on it (ha-ha!), the ‘UKRAINE HAS THE PICTURES!’ shirt will be the first one on the store.

I feel that I will use this line whenever anything goes wrong in my life; Ukraine’s photography will be blamed if my A2 results are disappointing, future breakups will involve me scratching these words into a heart carving on a tree in a park somewhere, and any physical pain will be responded to with an exclamation of this quote.

And I don’t care if it will make me seem like a Ukraine-hating xenophobe; don’t blame me, for Ukraine has the pictures.


Roberto Soldado

Tim Sherwood (go Tim!)

Harry Redknapp


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