“Never write posts after a penalty shoot-out,” says the Pub Bloggers Manual. Fortunately after that roller-coaster of an emotional ride, I had no intention of doing so; in fact I was ready for my bed!
I posted the above comment on Retired Martin’s blog. The instruction in parenthesis was Martin’s opening line, and the fact that after issuing the warning he went on to write a full-length post, shows he’s either got a lot more staying power than me or, by virtue of being retired, he doesn’t have to get up early and go to work in the morning.
I suspect it’s a combination of the two, but the point I was trying to make was the last two night’s compelling World Cup games have kept me away from my computer, and glued to the TV set.
I’m not a huge follower of the “beautiful game,” although I do take a passing interest. For example I like to see how Gillingham FC, Kent’s only team in the Football League, do each week, but having said that, I’ve no idea how their season ended this year, or even which division they are now in!
The World Cup is different, and every four years, it’s something of a tradition in the Bailey household to endeavour to watch those games where England are playing. Mrs PBT's in particular, is both an avid, and sometimes rather noisy fan, and woe betide anyone who attempts to interrupt her viewing. Of course we’ve seen more than our fair share of upsets and disappointments, but writing as someone who not only remembers England’s historic win, back in 1966, but who sat glued to our Black and White TV set, intently watching the game in the company of his father, I probably steal a march on most of today’s football fans.
Having witnessed once, history being made I would like to see a repeat performance, as I’m sure, would the whole nation. So last night’s game, despite its nail-biting conclusion, was much more than just a step in the right direction. Instead it showed a well-disciplined bunch of talented individual players, who really gelled as a team.
This is something few England sides have achieved since that historic win, and it is that, more than anything else, which fills me with optimism. Manager (or should that now be coach?), Gareth Southgate has done a brilliant job in moulding the players under his command into this team, and his appointment, coming as it did on the back of “Big Sam” Allardyce’s foolish indiscretion nearly two years ago, was not only well-deserved, but very fortuitous for the England side.
So that was last night’s cliff-hanger, but what about Monday evening’s equally compelling game? I’m talking here about Belgium v Japan; a game which nearly caused another major upset along the lines of Germany, Portugal and Argentina’s early departures.
It was not to be, but for a while underdogs Japan, came close to upsetting the apple-cart. I was rooting for them anyway, but it would have been doubly nice to see them going through as, at the moment, we have a couple of our company directors visiting from Japan.
They watched the match in their hotel, and when we offered our commiserations the following morning, were very philosophical about the whole thing. Japanese people are renowned of course, not only for their politeness, but also for their inscrutability, so we will probably never know their true feelings but, as the World Cup carnival continues, it certainly is “ a funny old game.”