Monday, 21 June 2010

Monday 21 June 2010 – WORLD CUP DAY ELEVEN

It’s the longest day in England and the shortest day in South Africa. Go compare.

I am back at work today. This is less than ideal, not least when it soon becomes apparent that my boss has forgotten that I have Wednesday off also (specifically for the England v Slovenia, booked before it even meant anything). So from here now are days ahead of sneakily watching games online in a quality that just is not HD television.

Today also sees the beginning of Wimbledon. I thought that had moved to Milton Keynes years ago.

In amongst all the fun and games some genuinely sad news emerges today as Frank Sidebottom (Chris Sievey) sadly loses his battle with cancer. The fact that he was continuing to gig for the foreseeable future suggested that he was still feeling strong and was going frighten the cancer away and it didn’t seem like he was about to pass on. Frank Sidebottom was a hilarious performer. In an ideal world it would be him fronting the post England match fun bags shows instead of James Corden because without doubt he ensure that the experience infinitely more fun, entertaining and genuine. Elsewhere Frank Sidebottom has only just released his World Cup single “Three Shirts On My Line” which is typical of the man as he takes a piece of pop culture and puts it through his fun goggles. In a tournament that has often been lacking fun it is things like this than bring a smile to people’s faces. A MakeFrank1 campaign has already begun on Twitter. Make it so!

At the time this game begins today I am at work gearing up for my lunch (Penne Arrabiata with chargrilled chicken). Undaunted about being caught out I surf over to the BBC website where the game is being streamed. It’s not ideal but beneath the game are the line-ups and to the left is something of a text commentary. Impressively also there are quick clips beneath the game soon after the highlights occur. And they don’t long to come as Carvalho slams the ball against the post after 7 minutes. Against the hopeful expectations of the romantics Portugal soon take the lead when Raul Meireles scores in the 29th minute, not that I manage to catch it on the stream. From here I make the schoolboy error of actually doing some work only to discover when I check that Portugal are now 4-0 up after a seven blitz minute early in the second half (Simao 53, Almeida 56 and Tiago 60). Ten minutes from time another three goal blitz occurs when substitute Liedson scores four minutes after coming on followed by Ronaldo’s first goal in two years for the Portuguese at the 87 minute mark accompanied by a seventh (and second for the night) two minutes later from Tiago. Not that I see any of these fucking goals. Later word comes through that this was the first game to ever been shown live in North Korea. Ouch bad timing.

The second game of the day is one that hardly sparks the imagination. Indeed God bless my work colleague when she actually thinks the CHI stands for China. This of course is selling Chile short because they looked fairly impressive in their 1-0 win over Honduras, as did Switzerland when they surprised everybody (including the Spanish) when they registered their own 1-0 victory over the tournament favourites (no mean feat from no mean feet). I guess the direction of the game naturally changes when Behrami gets sent off from the Swiss at the half hour mark. Not the first time a West Ham player has fucked up at these finals. Despite this at the 67 minute mark the Swiss manage to accomplish the all time World Cup finals record of going the longest run without conceding any goals. Eight minutes later however substitute Mark Gonzalez scores for Chile to end that streak and provide the only goal of the game giving Chile another 1-0 victory and put them surprisingly in the Group H driving seat with a tough final game against Spain remaining.

As the game kicks off this evening I find myself stuck on a delayed train returning home from London. Once back home in Colchester I quickly have to step into Asda to buy some meat and as I drive home it is to the tones of the glorious radio coverage once more. Already the game sounds very much in the control of Spain as David Villa hits the crossbar and two other decent efforts fly in within seven minutes. When I finally get to watch the game on TV it appears that Dr Mick from Loaded magazine a few years ago is now managing Spain. What is that about? With Torres in the starting line-up tonight it is Villa that gives Spain the lead after 17 minutes as he beats three Honduran defenders in the box before letting rip into the top corner. People fawn. At the 50 minute mark David Villa adds a sweet second with a subtly deflected shot from the edge of the box. Seconds later as the Spanish continue to push Ramos comes achingly close. Not long after this an incident sees Pique’s mouth pissing blood. With Johnson and Suarez amongst others suffering from a similar ailment this truly has been a bloody tournament for bashed in gobs. At the hour mark Navas goes down in the box and David Villa lines up the ball to complete his hat trick. He misses it, firing it past the right post. The cue tip fails. Eventually it ends at 2-0 with Spain having unconvincingly arrived at the World Cup.

When the final whistle blows the tournament is officially halfway through. It has all gone by so quickly.

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