The first person who blows a vuvuzela in a Scottish football ground should be taken to the centre spot immediately to have the thing shoved up – RIGHT UP – his or her hairy ginger arse. Sideways. That is my view, I will stick to it, and I will not mention the vuvuzela again. Well – maybe just the once.
I gatecrashed a book launch garden party in Glasgow’s posh West End on Saturday (a friends-of-friends thing). After being extorted a tenner for a children’s book I didn’t want, I noticed how there were no men at the party – just lots of women enjoying the unusually sunny weather and their hordes of children running around (why weren’t they away playing football in the park?). It turned out the significant others were there – upstairs, crowded round a not-very-big TV screen watching Argentina vs Nigeria, shooing kids out of the room. Guess where I spent the afternoon?
The children: I counted two Manchester United tops, one Brazil top, two England tops. No Scotland, Rangers, Celtic, Thistle, Queens Park, Hibs, Hearts, Dundee United, Aberdeen, Falkirk… nothing. England tops I am OK with – they were English, England were playing that day, and it was the West End of Glasgow. But Man U and Brazil? Have some imagination. I will admit I do own a Brazil shirt, but it was gifted to me by a Brazilian and I have never worn it – mainly because it has my name on the back above the number 10. Even though I’m not that bad, me wearing Pele’s shirt is a crime against sport.
There isn’t a branch of Dixon’s in the West End, and I think it’s because big-screen TVs are looked down upon in Hyndland. The party house had an old-school 20” cathode ray tube – 4:3, not even widescreen – and I had to endure someone telling me later that his 18” CRT was better than an HD plasma. (You can put that inside your vuvuzela on its way up your arse, my friend.) I think this is the first HD world cup – I don’t remember it being common in 2006, even in the US – and it almost makes up for the dismal quality of the football. Sony are even pushing 3-D televisions, which sounds interesting, except the games aren’t being broadcast in 3-D – kind of defeats the point.
High-def or 3-D might enhance the display but it doesn’t do anything for the audio, and in particular, the relentless use of cliché. I thought “electric atmosphere” was thoroughly discredited but no, it still seems to be the only word we have to describe the interior of a noisy football stadium. It doesn’t even seem that appropriate: the dictionary definition redirects to “electric aura”, describing this as “a supposed electric fluid, emanating from an electrified body, and forming a mass surrounding it, called the electric atmosphere.” Emanating fluids? Maybe it’s the inevitable tears when you-know-who gets knocked out on penalties in the quarter-finals.
The other hackneyed cliché that will be popular for this African World Cup is the “Africans can’t defend” stereotype (well, at least it’s not *explicitly* racist). When Cameroon conceded a poor goal against Japan, the old “African defence/lack of concentration” chestnut was regurgitated – maybe it was something to do with the emanating fluids? Me, I just thought about the goals we conceded in the Amsterdam Arena the last time we got pumped there, which proved you can find lack of concentration and shit defensive organisation without having to leave Europe.
But if you want to see shit defending, and indeed lots of shit football, I hope you made the trip south of the equator to watch the first round of games, because as I write this (Slovakia/New Zealand underway) there have been precious few moments of excitement – Germany have looked good, South Korea were mildly entertaning, and, err, that’s pretty much it from what I’ve seen. South Africa’s goal was nice. I sometimes get asked why I don’t try to become a full-time football journalist, and my answer is pretty straightforward: I’d have to watch rubbish football for a living.
If it weren’t for the fact we’d never qualify again, I’d be all for shrinking it back to 24 or even 16 decent teams, giving us a tournament with quality and focus (unlike this article?). Honduras, New Zealand, Algeria, North Korea – really, what is the point? North Korea don’t even bring any fans to prance about in pseudo-comedy national dress.
On that topic: as well as having the best team seen to date, Joachim Low is also far and away the best-dressed manager, sporting a natty dark grey suit with a lighter-grey t-shirt underneath. Not something I would wear, but it looked age-appropriate and classy, especially with sidekick Oliver Bierhoff next to him in a matching outfit. Streets ahead of Maradona’s 1980s Top Shop shiny suit.
See? It can be done. A whole article about the World Cup and I didn’t even mention 1966. D’oh!