It’s football time everybody – That’s real football, guys and girls, not the Kevlar and crash helmet, running for one minute and breaking for five, to watch overly skinny girls waving balls of last Christmas’ decorations kind.
Yes, The World Cup is here.
With the last coats of paint still being applied to the spectators’ benches, and the tarmac still being laid in the car parks, 32 countries have already started kicking a colourful pig’s bladder around neatly mown areas of, what was once teeming rainforest, for the honour of being humiliated by another country in four years’ time.
Now, demonstrations, rubber bullets and the occasional missile hurling are not usually part of the traditional opening ceremony that one expects from such a world sporting event, but that was certainly more interesting than the stilt-walking, tree-garbed humans that ironically, considering my previous observation, invaded the pitch on the opening night.
As you may have realised, I’m not a great fan of the ‘beautiful game’. I’ve never been into football, soccer or footy. I’m not sure why, but I think the fact that I originally came original from Portsmouth in the UK, and grew up in the 70s may account for it. Back then, the ‘entertainment’ on the terraces or after the games seemed to be the predominant reason for people’s attendance; with Pompey (Portsmouth) and Millwall games being a particular ‘highlight’. Fans would turn up at the games with an assortment of box cutters, sharpened coins or billiard balls in a sock shoved deep into their pockets and the post-match reviews were often bloody and vicious affairs conducted, by prior arrangement, on the back-streets around Fratton Park.
However, it is 40 years later and perhaps I should be a little less cynical. It’s time to grit my teeth, sit back and attempt to enjoy my first, properly engaged World Cup. After all, just a few minutes into the opening match, I can see that things have certainly changed, and the tens of thousands of spectators, from all around the world are enthralled by the spectacle and drama and are glued to their seats.
Or is that because of the wet paint…?