Sport, World Cup 2014

Diary of a football phobic: part 5

Apparently shit went down in the semi-finals? Alas, your correspondent was otherwise engaged while Germany not only annihilated Brazil but minced up them and turned them into a bratwurst; but I saw enough on Twitter to be able to piece together the general thrust of proceedings in Belo Horizonte. Who knew that Neymar is literally the only Brazilian who can kick a ball?

It goes without saying that I will be supporting Germany. I backed the wrong side last time, but I plan no such embarrassments for the final: it’s das Neue Fußball Reich for me!

Even before kick off, it’s clear that this is a Big Match: Gary Lineker and his ever-mumbling minions sit suited and booted in their swanky studio (That is, apart from Rio Ferdinand, who’s giving us a questionable blue cardigan-orange tie combo.) The formality feels awfully incongruous, especially given all the sweating that’s soon to be going on outside. Perhaps the sombre get-up would have been more appropriate for England’s final game…

The match itself I find a little pedestrian. (I can say that kind of thing now that I am safely on my way to becoming well-informed about all things football.) Nothing much happens in the fist half, and the second half also passes largely uneventfully. Maybe I’m expecting too much.

Germany get around to scoring in extra time, which livens things up a bit. And doesn’t Merkel look mighty chuffed? At least it gives her an excuse to stop talking to Putin.

This is enough to see us through to the finish. At the final whistle, I feel that I, too, may share in the joy given that I said at the beginning of the match that I wanted Germany to win – it’s right up there in the second paragraph. And at least Argentina managed to avoid the sausage treatment meted out to Brazil.

I reflect on what I have learnt during my World Cup odyssey. I have watched six football matches pretty much from start to finish; this is more football than I have ever been exposed to before. And I haven’t spontaneously combusted. Or turned into a lad  – although, in fairness, there’s precious little chance of that happening no matter what I’m watching. In fact, some of it has been rather good fun.

I have finally gotten around to understanding the offside rule: the editor of this fine newspaper explained it to me amidst the illustrious surrounds of the UEA TV office, adeptly aided by a roll of sellotape and a couple of unwashed mugs. No-one told me that it was so straight forward?

The breakout star of this tournament was, without a doubt, Miguel Herrera, the Mexican manager. I discovered him while watching my first match, and since then his passion, zeal and unfailing love of gesture have been as a guiding light during those times when football felt like a dark and mysterious place. He is my football guardian angel. I ask myself: what would Migel Herrera do? Why, he’d throw some shapes, hug a midfielder then do two laps of the pitch! In under 45 seconds.

So what advice have I for other football phobics – those overlooked and marginalised members of society who find this four-yearly spectacle is more than enough to send them running for the Anderson shelter? My voice heavy with the experience of the last four weeks, and with apologies to John and Yoko, I say: give football a chance.

You will be surprised to find that some of it is rather exciting. The worst it can be is dull. But perhaps try to support a team that isn’t England. For my part, I expect that in four years’ time I’ll be backing Germany. But for now, I need a gin and lie down. Until next time, football.


About Author

Peter Sheehan Still faffing around after three years at Concrete, Peter is back for a second year as deputy editor. Presumably that means that last year wasn’t a complete disaster, but you never can tell… Peter has pledged to spend this year delegating as much work as possible to his colleagues, thus leaving him free to further his long-standing efforts to become Concrete’s one-man answer to Peter Mandelson and Malcolm Tucker.

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