Footie Mad!

The World Cup is dominating (pleasantly) my life.

A football fan, with a long term affiliation and support for Arsenal, I haven’t been to a ‘real’ live match in years. Actually I have been to a couple of matches to see our local Harrogate football team play, but I found that I missed the ‘remote’ enabling me to freeze and replay the most exciting bits, and to see incidents from all angles!

You can’t beat the real thing for atmosphere – or can you?

Plenty of atmosphere last night, when England played Colombia! Fascinating to see the different styles of football on show.
• England were light on their feet but rigorous, considered and planned – and found it difficult to actually score against a good defence.
• Colombia were sparky, excitable and very physical, grabbing our key strikers in entangling embraces as soon as they looked likely to shoot – actions that in some countries would result in forced marriage by the family! In this match only the occasional yellow card resulted!

The crowd seemed to be full of Colombians (or their supporters) – only an occasional phrase of our national anthem could be heard before being drowned out by a sea of boos whenever we touched the ball! No respect for those who invented the game (we claim)!
I felt sorry for the referee, who was besieged in a tumultuous crowd of yellow shirts protesting against an apparent injustice for long periods of the game. I couldn’t have been as calm and tolerant as he was.

After a penalty goal for us (England), awarded for some very excessive grappling by the opposition, we looked unlikely to score again, while controlling most of the game – UNTIL an excellent goal by Colombia right at the end of normal time!
Why is it that most of the goals scored are at in the last few minutes of a game? Arsenal were well known for this – it was just the preceding 85 minutes that were disappointing last season!

After another half hour of extra time this competition requires a penalty shoot-out to decide who proceeds in the competition – a brutal and somewhat arbitrary rule that does create highs of hysteria and despair.

England has a notable track record in this aspect of the game – our current manager having lost us a World Cup match in the past by missing his penalty! Supporting England is an emotional experience, full of highs and even fuller of lows. On this occasion the ‘law of averages’ finally asserted itself and we won the shoot-out and the game!

Next game is against Sweden at the weekend. I can’t wait – just got to get the champagne and the antidepressants handy, thus covering both possible outcomes!

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