Billy provides live updates as he watches the Scotland v Norway game in Hong Kong.
I have come out of hiding this week and crossed the border into bandit country – aka Wan Chai – Hong Kong’s drinking and, well, “other things” district; less well-known, it is also the midpoint of a not-so-recent 12-hour drinking session that still has me in the doghouse with Mrs Williamson. I can’t help it if my old iPhone’s buzzer was broken.
Located deep in the bowels of the Wharney Guang Dong Hotel on Wan Chai’s Lockhart Road is Hong Kong’s only remaining Scottish bar – the Canny Man – which is also the venue for the HK Tartan Army to watch the latest installment of the March on Africa; and where I will be getting progressively sleepier, yet drunker and angrier as I watch the match and provide live-when-they-were-written updates to you.
Canny Mans is of course the name of a fine establishment in Morningside, Edinburgh, where students rub shoulders with backpackers and old-timers in a classic Scottish bar. With award-winning service, to quote a comment from bestpubs.co.uk:
“The most unfriendly, unwelcoming venue I have ever come across in Edinburgh. Staff as always seem to reflect the management’s disdain for the customers.”
The most unfriendly/unwelcoming venue in Edinburgh? That takes some doing! Anyway I always enjoyed a pint of heavy when I was larging it up down Morningside way back in the day. Which was a long time ago now.
One concern about the Hong Kong Canny Man – their website has a section entitled “All Things Rugby.” That can’t be good.
On to the football…
8pm (t-5 hours)
Still in recovery mode from a throat infection which had me out of the office for the best part of a week, the last thing I should be doing is staying up late and chucking alcohol down my neck while screaming at a television screen. But what can you do?
Initial reaction to the team selection, which I’ve just received from inside the Scotland camp: WTF? I can just about understand Marshall (though I say Alexander has more big-game experience), and even Davidson at left-back, though I don’t think this is the game to bring back players after a six-year absence; but Alexander in front of the back four? And Faddy, presumably kept back as a supersub? It looks like Burley is playing to keep it to 0-0 at half-time and nick one in the second half. I don’t like it.
Best-case prediction: We keep it to 0-0 at half-time and nick one in the second half. I don’t like it, but it works.
Worst-case prediction: We lose an early goal and it is back to Berti-style shambling Scotland, with a 3-0 defeat followed by mass calloffs and a loss in Japan; a pitiful home draw with Macedonia; Hampden gubbing by Holland; and Burley get his jotters before Christmas. [I did say it was worst-case prediction.]
From the “Do they never learn?” department – helpfully reprinted as the headline on the Guardian website – “We can win the World Cup in South Africa, says bullish Terry”. No matter how bad it gets, at least we have those idiots making the same nonsense predictions every two years.
Music of choice en route to bar: The View. They might have the same jeans on for four days now, but I’m wearing the same trainers I wore in the Parc des Princes when Faddy bust the net.
Twenty minutes to kickoff
Slight problem here. The plan was to get drunk and angry to get me through a painful and stressful night but I am officially (doactir’s orders) “aff the bevvy” due to this virus. I am not sure whether to get lashed into medicinal vodka or stay sober; clearly watching Scotland is bad enough drunk but nearly impossible sober.
Ten minutes to kickoff
“Bad or no signal”. Uh-oh.
Five minutes to kickoff
Running across the road to the backup bar – in a Hong Kong downpour. Thirty seconds in the rain and it’s like 90 minutes in the away end at Cappielow.
10 minutes in
Carew booked – good. Ref seems to be giving decisions Scotland’s way which is unheard of. Fletcher should have done better with his chance but the early onslaught from Norway hasn’t materialized.
F*cking hell we should have scored. Their defence is shit.
Comment on Kenny Miller: “When you’re timing your runs from an offside position you know you’re offside.”
Riise should have been booked, the dirty pseudo-ginger bastard, for that nasty tackle on Hutton – who should be getting more of the ball because no defence can handle him. And then he should have scored. And then he was booked, for another dirty challenge.
Oh and Carew should be off for diving. Even if it was a penalty he dived.
Shocking decisions by the referee. Riise does two potential legbreakers and gets one yellow, Caldwell tugs the shirt of a man-mountain and he’s off? After getting a yellow for the first foul Scotland did all night? This referee is, like all officious pricks, more interested in the letter of the law than common sense.
Bastards. Typical. Deflection off of Brown for a goal by a player who shouldn’t be on the park.
Half-time can’t come quick enough, our defence is all over the place and Brown is losing the plot.
Aw fir f*ck’s sake. Ripped apart by that pish. 2-0 and there’s no coming back from that with ten men against twelve.
They’ve just passed out the Tunnock’s tea cakes but it’ll take more than one of those to ease the pain.
After a promising start it all turned against us – even the commentator said “It all seems to be going for Norway.”
– you have to take your half-chances at this level, especially away from home
– picking a defence that’s never played together (at least 50% of them) might be a bit too risky for an away tie like this.
My message to George: get the needle into Carew and get him sent off; get Faddy on for Commons and pull Miller back to midfield.
And make sure Caldwell and Berra talk to each other.
Mrs Williamson told me tonight that ginger people feel more pain; they need more painkillers than us ‘normals’ after surgery and the like. It was in the New York Times, therefore it must be true. Anyway I hope that **** Riise encounters some serious long-term pain soon.
How can one player – albeit a giant one – hold off an entire defence and get a shot off? 3-0 and it’s goodnight Cape Town.
The more I see the replay, the more I think he should have been off for diving in the first half.
On another note, there’s always an annoying prick around you when you’re watching the game – no matter where you are. Quite often that prick is me, but tonight the award goes to the fanny who screamed ‘you idiot’ at the TV whenever Norway had a chance or a goal or when Kenny Miller didn’t single-handedly beat three players and score. He left after that third goal; so he beats the drunk arsehole claiming to be a Pittodrie season-ticket-holder and asking people if they are Protestant. That takes some doing, to beat him.
Hmm if I was a Norway fan I’d be screaming for a fourth goal. That crossed the line but it is typical of the refereeing tonight not to give it.
“You just know Carew’s going to score tonight” is the quote next to me.
I said last week Norway wasn’t a proper football nation and tonight I am proven correct – their fans are doing ‘The Wave’.
Game over for Scotland and my worst-case prediction was exceeded with that injury-time goal – I am trying to recall a worse result, I guess Paris at the start of Berti’s reign comes to mind.
A dismal performance; we can blame the ref, and I do, but it doesn’t hide the fact we are playing below our potential – and when things turned against us tonight we simply fell apart.
The only silver lining: Norway might end up worst-placed runners-up and not make the playoffs, which would be payback for what they did to Morocco in 1998. Yes, I am a bitter loser.