Thursday, 10 June 2010

x=(2010 - 1966) Years of pain , still we keep believing, Come on England!

It's 55 years since Newcastle United won the FA Cup last,  44 years since England won the World Cup, it was also the only time England won the World Cup. In 1966 I was a tiny little boy , my biggest concern was being vaguely aware of the 1000th anniversary of the founding of the Polish State. There were Church basement parties, I'm told I went to parades and special concerts . If I'm honest, I don't remember all that much. Just  loads of strangers in our house. It wasn't till years later that I began having  memories of any kind worth getting worked up over.  And yet  those victories in 1955 and 1966 resonate in my soul to such an extent that I can tell you about those great teams. I've seen the clips and read the books, and yet there are days I can't remember where I left my keys,but ask me about a Champions League Final or Derby, I can paint a picture in words. As a football supporter I reckon time in fixtures lists and summer breaks. I can tell when something happened if I can attach a canny goal, famous victory or more often than not, yet another disastrous outing for Newcastle or England. As in answer to the question, "When did you meet your wife?"  Well I know it was before  we went out on pens to Portugal but after we beat Sunderland 4-1 away.  It was Shearer's last ever match and he scored that penalty late in the 2nd half..... .

Now if you are one of the few non football types reading this, let me explain something to you. When we are in fits of rage, finger nails reduced to bloody stumps and unable to sleep or eat from worry, we are in fact having fun. I know it doesn't look like that, but we are. It's our biennial ( World Cup and Euro) rush of blood to the head, when we get to dream yet again of faded glory and hope springs eternal that the latest manager won't screw it up or a certain Chelsea player won't go green at the gills and miss a pen that he would otherwise nail any other day.....I Still feel sick thinking about that one. It's our outlet for feeling that testosterone filled tribal unity of purpose without having to declare war or sacrifice virgins on an altar. We get to wear some seriously silly clothes and bond with total strangers we might otherwise never talk to. We as a planet ( except for maybe two countries) indulge in  some pretty serious male bonding followed  by even more male bonding. Football, is one of the last refuges of talent, skill, fitness and luck that exists today. You can within reason predict an outcome, but as they say , it's a funny old game, between the ref and the weather and the mood of the players and the crowd, there is no way of knowing for sure how it will end. Unlike X factor, you can't see the winner till end of play.

Thanks to Bend it like Beckham, it has also become acceptable for girls to join in as well. Pretty good if you're a male of the species seeking a mate who will also declare that the calendar only has 10 months in it except in Euro and World Cup years , when it has 11 months broken up by the wait for the next fixtures list. There is however a risk in mixed marriages, derby days can be a bit of a struggle. Do you let it all hang out or pretend you're just a bit gutted for your wife when your mortal enemies have just been spanked 4-0, meaning she will be mardy for the rest of the day?  I won't advise you on this as any advice I give you will be wrong and you'll only blame me for the ruination of your life. In my case, my wife still loves Man United but has become such a Toon supporter she bleeds black and white more than I do. Whatever you, don't say Mike Ashley if she's got a sharp object.

Now what am I feeling and thinking right now, a few days before the big kick off? I'm wondering if all my tops are clean, do we have enough food and drink in for the week end and will I be able to get my writing deadlines in before I do sod all because I can't be moved from in front of the telly? Somehow I doubt it . That's it, nothing else matters for the next month, I will eat breathe and sleep football. I love Doctor Who, but I'm hoping it's not going to interfere with the matches. At least this year the Cup is being played only an hour away instead of Korean central time. I'm not willing to get up at strange hours for most things, but the World Cup is different. If I don't see the match live, I'll be forced to avoid friends, steer clear of newspapers, radio and entire web sites. It can't be done and it's unfair to ask me.  Pretty shallow I hear you saying, and maybe you're right, there are bigger issues, earth shatteringly important things like, will the officiating be as good or better than in 2006, or will we see a repeat of the scandals of 2002 with the shameful displays of diving, corrupt officials and doubtful calls that seemed to favour a certain host nation until the world threatened to stop watching. Then there's the whole question of the electronic official. I'd love to have a clean World Cup, a WC that has refs that are without flaw and get every call right. Thing is they are human, and that means they make mistakes. We don't have to tolerate the worst of them any more, there is goal line technology that will determine in seconds flat if the ball went in, or if  Maradona handled the ball. I am also concerned that if they mess with the ball yet again, it will affect the way the way the game is played. I'm worried refs will expect respect but still take the piss out of players.As you can see I'm a sensitive and complex man.

My biggest conflict is my desire to see the players  I follow the rest of the year every year, perform well, and not get hurt. If I'm honest, as much as I'd love to see a 2nd star on England shirts, I'd almost rather have Newcastle United as far from bottom of the table and go 6th or even 4th in the Prem. While for some of you, that Croatian with a funny name is a revelation, my wife however will have been watching Vidic play for Manchester United for  the last few years. The last thing we want is to see is our best players banged up on pitches  thousands of miles from home playing for a team that will likely not win the tournament or place in the final 8. Michael Owen spent more time in therapy than on the pitch for Newcastle as it is, but. our hearts sank when he was injured in 2006. The club has yet to recover all the financial damages claimed from his World Cup exit. Considering the amount of time he was on the books for the Toon, we'll never know what impact he could have had if he'd played regularly.

Speaking of  agony and what might have been, right  here, right now, I have a terrible ache in the pit of my stomach, a feeling of dread that we will be afflicted by every calamity, bad call and mismanaged substitution that has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory time and again. I'm sure the feeling will be replaced soon enough by misplaced optimism and pure hope in the belief that this year is the year we do it. This year is the year we can finally stop counting the bloody years of pain in those maudlin songs they keep writing. Despite  the injuries ( Rio Ferdinand) and slightly combative spirits ( Rooney) It is possible we could win this year. Every year we won ( see above) , England did not have a song. This year , we don't either, see my last post about the terminally unfunny Mr Corden and the abysmally bad SHOUT. Spirits are high, last Saturday fewer people watched the telly BAFTAs than watched England play the rest of the world  in a charity kick about taken by far to many of us far too seriously,  where we went out on pens (again) . On the back of that performance, we've been promised the real England team have practised this time. I for one believe our Italian. Robert Green, West Ham's goal keeper  helped his club place 17th this year, surely the clear superior of  Buffon and co. 

I suppose I may as well admit now that in a few weeks I'll be writing about how we were robbed, bemoaning the quality of officiating and wondering how we went out on pens yet  again to ( insert team name... Portugal Italy Germany  Brazil) . I might even be inconsolable for at least a week and only calm down when the first rays of Top Gear emanate from my telly. On the other hand , we could have won the Cup and I will be floating on air for weeks . One is allowed to dream, isn't one?

Regardless of what happens, a few quick rules during the World Cup.

1-Do not leave the room for food, bathroom breaks, or anything less than a fire or angry ferrets, and even then you should wait for half time or else somebody will score, usually the other guys.

2- Do not ring your mate during a match or during the last five minutes " for a joke". It's never ever funny, and he'll hate you for life.

3- Never ever say " It's just a game". There lies danger and you will be held responsible for any injuries you have justly asked for.

4- If you are new to this, when entering a pub, bar, sitting room full of devotees,  pick a player, occasionally shake your  head, say his name in a concerned or excited way and you might even look like you know what you're talking about.

5- Depending where you are on planet Earth, go to sleep early and set you alarm clock. I assure you, your boss will understand why you look half dead and your productivity has dropped by 50 %.

5- Join a pool of some kind, you might even put a fiver on the tournament, it will heighten that ecstasy or agony all the more when you have pride and few bob riding on the result.

6 Pick a team to support when your side tumbles out ignominiously. No fun just watching for three weeks .

7- Find a Brazilian party, win or loose, they will be the highlight of your World Cup, and the women are hot.

8- Lastly, Remember to  wash, even girls into football, don't like sleeping with trolls.

If you follow these simple rules , you will have joined the rest of humanity and had a good time in the bargain.

See you  Monday for the usual Telly and music stuff.... COM'N ENGLAND!

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