Monday 19 October 2009

Life's a Beach Ball and then you die?

You can measure your life in “four score years and ten”, in surviving members of The Beatles or football World Cups.

Ok, ok, there are lots of other ways to measure it but I want to talk football ok?

Probably not, a recent survey in this house firmly suggests a minority support.

Except when the World Cup comes around (eight months and counting).

The first occasion I stood on a football terrace was in the freezing cold at a fourth division relegation battle in Lincoln.

My mum came from Lincoln and her assertion that she hadn’t been able to leave quickly enough, though harsh on a beautiful city, mirrored my feelings watching this bunch of men chase a leather ball.

For anyone with no knowledge of football and all its mysteries I should explain that a fourth division relegation battle is about as unattractive as it gets. Grim.

But the World Cup is different. It’s in June for a start, so it’s warm.

And, on the next occasion we have for example the distinct possibility of seeing Honduras playing Burkina Faso. How exotic is that?

From 1966 I retain grainy black and white memories of seeing Geoff Hurst thump the ball into the net for the only English victory in the competition (so far).

1974 and the English captain was arrested in a jewellery shop in Mexico City – what was that all about?

In 1978 I watched some team playing another team in a crowded bar on a Greek Island, I don’t remember the score but the local yoghurt remains the best I have ever eaten.

And for 1998 I was sitting watching the final here in France with Loui – he was 7- and we were supporting Brazil. Come on! Green and yellow shirts against blue, no contest! Yes, the French national anthem has to be one of the best but Brazil’s flag is way more exciting.

And that’s what the World cup is all about, flags, and shirts and …… slices of orange at half time?

When Zidanne scored his second goal Loui turned and asked “is it ok if I support France?”

Three years ago (2006 obviously) I missed a flight from Paris to Seattle – honest it wasn’t on purpose – so I was in the city the night France defeated Brazil in the quarter or semi finals. I was eating at a restaurant watching the game backwards through the TV screen reflected in the restaurant window.

Afterward Loui ran the length of the street, shirt over his head – surprisingly transformed into a hooligan. His impressionable eyes saw the opportunity to misbehave big time.

I’ve never been in a big city when the nation’s team wins – it’s a big event and the fountain is apparently the place to be.

All right, there are a few gaps there and the Women’s world cup event is scandalously absent from my account but hopefully you get my drift.

But, and here’s the question - will next year’s event live up to the drama of this weekend and the almost legendary “beach ball” goal?

And should I dare to dream once again that England will win, risking abject disappointment or should I follow the green and yellow?

And how many more do I have left anyway?

Or like the goalkeeper in the clip above, should I simply look the other way?

Ps. Trivia question – no looking on Wikipedia for help – who came third in the first ever world cup (won by Uruguay)?


Vicki Hollett said...

I looked at the map you had kindly provided and without looking it up, guessed France. Then I went and looked it up on wikipedia and was more than a little surprised.

popps said...

It is a surprise isn't it
Vicki! are you just getting up or just going to bed?
By the way i should have said the little map is from Wikipedia and shows the tournaments winners.