Posted by: foodtalker | June 21, 2010

football rules

One of the many side benefits to having had a boy as opposed to a girl, is that I’ve acquired an in-depth knowledge of football, or soccer as we say in the US.   Regardless of any attempts on my part at avoidance or mental blockage, it has just seeped in through osmosis, along with other noteworthy facts such as a graduate level of understanding of dinosaur minutiae or the colour and corresponding names of the four Ninja turtles.  Although I am still bitter that the names of four astonishing Renaissance artists should have been thus associated in the mind of my young son.  All this knowledge still survives today, long after these mutated masked martial art warriors have returned to their New York sewers.  Would that I could recall life’s really meaningful stuff with the same clarity and alacrity.

Anyway, lucky for me about the football know how, because here I am in England where the whole nation has gone potty for the World Cup.  Make that the whole world.  Even my sister has a St. George English flag fluttering from her Mercedes SUV.  A sight I would have confidently bet on as a flying pig happening moment. 

So far I’ve sat through two matches, on the television, that is.  My Dad and I have watched them together.  Dad’s one of those people who likes to enter into a spontaneous dialogue with people on the telly.  We’ve told him many times they can’t hear him, but that seems irrelevant.  He’s his most vocal during the evening news, offering pithy analysis and appraisal of global situations – usually in one or two-word expletives.  So he’s lots of fun to watch a football match with, especially when England’s played two rubbish games.   A disastrous fumble on the part of the English goalie allowed the US ball into the net, and then such a lackluster discombobulated second game against the Algerian team who, considered inferior, were in fact a cohesive team of players where their nimble footwork appeared choreographed, and exposed the English side as a bunch of clodhoppers, which Dad and I happily shouted at them several times.   Dad, who is the furthest man from a racist, was so disgruntled after this match that he muttered that at least the Algerians looked like they came from that country, whereas looking at the English team he was far from convinced of that fact.

Then whatever happened to the old style roar of the crowd that surges and recedes with the tensions of the game?  We turned the sound off as we could hardly bear to listen to the annoying drone of the vuvuzelas.   The noise they make sounds as if they’d rounded up every last fly in Africa and stuck them in an echo chamber.  I did read of some unfortunately woman who ruptured her throat as a result of blowing too hard.  With a bit of luck, after a few more similar casualties, they’ll be banned and packed away in the attic along with the Masai warrior from a previous African trip. 

My love of soccer comes from hours of watching my son play for teams called “Kiwis” or “Tigers”.  Standing on the side lines, weather-proofed and yelling my head off, as the kids, in unselfconscious and unfettered enthusiasm, mobbed the ball wherever it was.  By comparison, England’s team looks like sorry pussyfooters.  The only thing that’s keeping me rooting for them is the knowledge that all of Scotland wants them to lose.

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