Jul 12th, 2010 by 'holic
It is, without doubt, good that I refrained from staying up when everybody else had gone to bed, or headed back on to the M6 and M5 last night. Any attempt at recording my observations on the World Cup Final would probably have caused great offence to regulars in Spain and the Netherlands.
My Sunday had started early. We were in the Midlands for a surprise birthday party, and a very rare meeting with all six grandsons. The first Guinness tickled the tonsils at lunchtime, and thereafter the black nectar alternated with several healthy glasses of red wine (and a couple of pints of water, honestly!).
Kick-off time arrived and a dozen of us were scattered around two televisions. The stepson was cheering for the Dutch, having drawn them in the sweepstake at work. Fifty quid would be heading his way if they won, so I had to keep quiet about the ‘holic pound, so judiciously wagered on Spain at 4/1 before a ball had been kicked in the tournament.
What followed was such an awful anti-climax. The pained expressions of those from six to sixteen will be my lasting memory of a Final that rarely threatened to surpass the 1990 clash between Argentina and Germany as the worst I have had the displeasure to witness.
The premeditated assaults of van Bommel and De Jong, the play-acting, diving, and surrounding of the referee at every stoppage accompanied by the imaginary waving of cards that was supposed to be outlawed at this tournament. At each new outrage I looked at the kids who play schoolboy football and who are being coached in a game that bears no relation to what they were watching.
They are told to respect opponents and referees, and that foul play and fouler language is unacceptable. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect ninety minutes of ‘after you Claude’ in a World Cup Final, but neither did I expect to see a demonstration that belonged more in the theatre than on the football pitch.
I can’t help feeling that if Howard Webb had found his other card a little earlier then a healthier contest would have ensued. He’s an easy target though, and shouldering far too much of the blame for the inability of professionals on both sides to behave as such.
I have to say my mood wasn’t helped by the gibbering idiots suited and booted in the BBC studio, and I doff my smouldering cap the the inimitable Arseblog for capturing the full extent of the disgusting irony that underpinned their contribution to the evening. I could certainly not have put it any better than he.
Enough of the negative. I was also obviously delighted for Cesc Fabregas. Delighted that he got a chance to experience the biggest game of them all. Delighted that he set up the winning strike for Iniesta. If any player has earned the medal that came his way last night, it is Cesc. Thrust into captaincy at a young age, he has shouldered responsibility whilst developing into a remarkable talent, and one I hope will be with us for at least another season or two.
A thought too for Robin van Persie. The Dutch squad may have been more united than some of the great Netherlands sides of the past, but that did not show itself in any sort of service for their most lethal attacker. Hopefully a short break from the game will enable him to return with a burning ambition to go one step further in the red of his club than the orange of his country.
So now we can forget the instantly forgettable, and start to focus on the remainder of the summer. There should be some acceleration in transfer activity in the coming days, and I am looking forward to my first pre-match pint of the new season at Underhill on Saturday.
At last, we can get back to putting the focus fairly and squarely on Arsenal. I, for one, am delighted at that.
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