FIFA WORLD CUP
Well it would be nice to say that the talking is all over and the tournament has begun.........but only one of those statements would be right. Sadly in these days of 'filling tv time slots' the talking will go on for weeks after the final ball has been kicked on July 9th. My plan is to watch every game (ok some will have to be watched as reruns due to them being played at the same time as others) and avoid all the talking. An hour or more of listening to ex footballers and managers trying to send us to sleep before every game is not my idea of pre game
entertainment. But it's cheap television for the companies involved.
Here in the UK, coverage is being shared by the 2 national terrestrial stations.....BBC and ITV. Like most fans, I'd much rather SKY had the deal but of course that would exclude a lot of the population who have no dish or cable access to SKY. Fair enough I suppose but I don't have to like it. ITV is ok but omg...BBC. I've only 2 words to say about the BBC - John Motson. Here is a football commmentator who should have hung up his boots several decades ago. His style and delivery is from an age when we, the listeners, were grateful that anyone was televising football at all. He still believes that we're impressed that he spoke to the oppositions' water bottle carrier in the lift of the local hotel. He throws in comments about meeting such and such a player and discussing the finer points of football when the poor guys were probably looking for some way to avoid him. But his most delusional belief and the one that simply drives me to mute the sound and listen via the radio is that he still thinks that giving us banal and trivial statistics about everything from the manufacturer of the goalposts to who ironed the players shirts in 1923 will enhance our listening pleasure.
Ok picture the scene. I'm watching England play.......anyone. Motson informs us that player X has scored in every England game played on a Wednesday when the sun was shining and the manager had an R in his surname. Oh and player Y has scored 72.5% of his goals with his left foot - except when he's used his right foot on alternate Saturdays in August. What about player Z I hear you ask ? Well he was substituted in 23 consecutive games in 1492 and was sent off to discover America with Christopher Columbus. He came back in triumph and went on to play for England for another 511 years and score 3 goals.
The man is a statistic freak and he thinks we want/need to hear them all. It's not like he memorises this rubbish. He has it all written down in volumes of notes in front of him. He's cleared a large part of the Amazon rainforest all by himself. You can hear the panic in his voice if it gets to the 89th minute and he has facts left over !! That's when we dread hearing the final whistle as Motson explodes with a barrage of stats and screams them over the noise of the applauding and screaming fans. I pity the co-commentators who must have to be dry cleaned after the games to remove a thick coating of verbal diarrhea.
Having got that out of my system, what about the football ? Well England had a great day with a win against Paraguay and then ending up topping the group when Sweden could only draw with Trinidad & Tobago. The England performance was the classic 'game of two halves' scenario when the manager sneaked on 10 different outfield players for the 2nd half and hoped no one would notice. Sadly these Sunday league players almost threw the game away but held on for a stunning and memorable victory against the giants of World Cup football that are.......Paraguay. Never mind, at least we're not - Sweden.
Of course not everyone could be at home to watch the games, so in many cities the authorities set up large screens so that fans could watch the games. I just couldn't believe how many were in Leeds Millennium Square today to watch the England game.
I wonder what the view was like ? I had enough trouble watching the game on my 90' plasma screen (HD nearly ready) due to the shadows on the pitch cast by some monstrosity called a video cube suspended 25 metres above the pitch. What was THAT all about ? Isn't a big screen at one end of the pitch good enough ? This cube even got involved in the game when a kick from England's goalie, Robinson, smacked into it and dropped like a dead pidgeon straight down onto the pitch. Just as well it didn't rebound back like a rocket and end up in the net ! Can you imagine the instant replays of that little gem.
Anyway that was Day 2 of the World Cup but Day 1 wasn't important as England didn't play !!
(Not sure they did today either to be fair). Oh and btw, the 90' plasma screen bit was a little fib......by about 60' and not even plasma !