SO many questions. Who (will we get), where (will we play) and when (what times of day). But the biggest question of all has to be why does it take so long to draw 32 teams?

England now know that their World Cup group games will pit them against Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica, and all the teams know who they will first tackle in Brazil in summer. But at times it seemed that those questions would not be known until the wee small hours.

All the brouhaha that’s blown up over the readiness of the stadia in Brazil, but they were nearly all ready before the interminable draw was completed with MC Blatter holding court.

But there is no need for such a palaver, worsened more so by the fact that television stations, earth-bound and extra-terrestrial, plus newspapers and radio stations all carried online votes as to who England might get, who England might want to avoid, how early will England crash out, and what breakfast cereal should they take to Brazil.

The most pertinent poll would have been one emanating from north of Hadrian’s Wall which should have been outlined as “who gives a toss of a caber, anyway?”

How much did yesterday’s ceremony of ennui cost?

Ahead of it there were riots in the streets and favelas at the mounting cost of new and updated stadia despite many of the poor going hungry.

Yet FIFA still insist on the sort of protracted show that makes the Oscars look like a public information broadcast.

Veteran footballers from previous World Cups were flown in to the draw with nation’s representatives constituting small armies. They would not be existing on luncheon vouchers I am sure.

No wonder there is disruption among the disadvantaged.

What’s wrong with just having Pele, the World Cup competition’s biggest star, doing the draw?

Pele, a velvet bag, a clutch of balls, an invigilator and Cafu’s your uncle – a World Cup draw.

But no, everything has to be a show, supplemented by numerous mentions of sponsors.

One of my colleagues on the sportsdesk hunkered in the Walmgate bunker was astonished to hear the “FIFA/Coca-Cola world rankings”. What????

Can you hear the wail of football’s soul being sold even further down the river?

Anyway back to the football and yet more caterwauling and gnashing of teeth.

When England were confirmed to face Italy in their group opener, plus later duels against a Luis Suarez-led Uruguay and Costa Rica, the camera panned back into the auditorium to the England contingent where national coach Roy Hodgson was captured head bowed and seemingly scribbling something down.

“Dear Mr Dyke, I’m off, could you just put the cheque in the post.....yours faithfully R Hodgson.”

Nah, I’m only joshing. He wasn’t penning his resignation, tee-hee.

After all, Roy said before the draw was made that England had no one to fear. Good on you Roy, though I suspect he will soon be back to that trusty old mantra “there are no easy games in international football.”

Good job Gibraltar, Guernsey and Canvey Island did not qualify for the World Cup finals. Then, we would have been in trouble.

The one good thing now is that surely there will be no senseless and over-egged expectation ahead of our three-lioned brigade’s excursion to Brazil in the summer.

Too often ahead of so many international tournaments England have resembled the Ancient Mariner (and I don’t mean one-time England front-man Paul, though more about him later) weighed down by the crippling tonnage of hype.

If there was any good at all to come out of yesterday’s glossy draw, it was that it delivered a hefty dose of realism.

England will be third favourites to advance as one of the top two from the group behind seeded Uruguay and Italy, who, remember, confirmed our exit from the European Championships of 2012.


• THIS week York City striker Richard Cresswell announced his retirement.

His decision to quit playing after being blighted by knee and eye injuries ended two distinguished decades that took him from teenage years as a Minster-mite right to the top of the domestic game before returning to the club that has always had a place “in his heart”.

When I was covering City, Cresswell was excelling in a match at Burnley when someone in the press-box said “He’s going to be a cracking player”. It was a certain Paul Mariner, he of 13 goals in 35 full England outings.

Boy was he right. All the best, Crezzie.


• DID anyone find it slightly apt that The Class Of ’92, the film that focuses on the clutch of Man Utd tyros of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Neville brothers Phil and Gary, who grew into football megastars, was London?