Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Distracted by the "Beautiful Game"

“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.”


Russtovich said...

"I’m not a huge follower of the “beautiful game,” although I do take a passing interest."

Not surprisingly, considering where I live, but that's basically me as well. I (sort of) follow Chelsea and Fulham as they were the teams of my late Dad and Grandad respectively.

As for the World Cup, I do follow it every four years but not as avidly as you do (although I do cheer for England). :)

And yes, there have been some entertaining matches this year. (and I sometimes shield my eyes when watching England). ;)

Owing to marital obligations (i.e. driving my wife's lunch truck while she is at a huge family gathering in the Yukon) I tuned in to England's game with 15 mins left in regulation time. Of course it went on for another 90 minutes! Nice to see them get the PK monkey off their back. It certainly seems to look like they were wise (lucky?) to let Belgium win in the round robin.

Saturday's game starts at 7am for me. With my better half away I plan on turning the telly on in my bedroom and watch it from a semi-reclined position in bed... with a beer (or two!). :)


Professor Pie-Tin said...

Do you accept the result of the England v Columbia game Paul ?
After all 4-3 is such a narrow margin of victory ...

ETU said...

I'm moved to post a (sadly out-of-date) pub review that I once wrote, Paul:

As I strolled across Llandaff Fields, on a warm, early Summer's day, towards the Butcher's Arms, a stray football rolled to my feet. Before I could sidestep it and continue, a cheery voice called out to me "on me 'ead, mate". Now, had I been a person of culture and of refinement, then this could have caused me all sorts of problems. However, being, as I am, an ordinary sort, the instincts that I had been forced to acquire as a nine-year-old meant, that even after all these years, I found myself side-swiping it towards the caller with an equally jaunty "there you go, pal".

This nonetheless unwelcome intrusion, although only minor, caused me to reflect further on my way. The Butcher's, thankfully, is not dedicated to the Beautiful Game For Children, unlike all-too-many pubs these days. Rather, it sports many portraits of national heroes, such as of the late Ray Gravell, from a different one. You can contemplate them, whilst enjoying a pint of Hancock's HB, Bass, or various other non-Brain's brews, and in either the unspoilt traditional front bar, or in the carpeted lounge to the rear. There's a pleasant enough garden too.

The pubs of these islands are a globally-admired institution, and it seems to me that the followers of The Game Of The Round Ball would often claim to be patriots too. Strange it is then, that they have done so much to damage this said fine institution, by demanding Roop-the-Poops's football-for-flower-pot-men television in as many of them as possible. Conversation has now been replaced by people shouting at an array of thousands of light-emitting diodes on several nights a week (not that you could hear yourself speak over the blaring commentary anyway).

Now, forgive me, but the European Union never did that, now did it? Anyhow, for this blissful absence alone, the Butcher's Arms receives a grateful eight-out-of-ten from yours ever.

I thank you.

Yeah, prof, but England didn't put Novichok in Columbia's boots, did they? Looking forward to charges being brought against the low-life Banks et al.

Paul Bailey said...

I'm not being drawn in on this one Prof, but full marks for trying.

I will reply to the other comments later, when I have a bit more time, but the speed with which this latest “incident” was identified as Novichok is highly suspicious. Nothing like a scare story to keep the population subdued, whilst covering up bad news in the process.

ETU said...

Sorry Paul, I used Novichok in boots as a metaphor for cheating generally, not in relation to recent news.

Jolyon Maugham has it here though:

Yes, let's allow all those doped athletes to keep their ill-got medals, shall we?

At least team games have some resilience, and you can only really purposely lose. Not much use in the FWC.



RedNev said...

I have no interest in sport, and saying that often provokes a comment along the lines of, "Just don't watch it then." Not so simple, when the World Cup is on in so many pubs and it is shoved down your throat by TV continuity announcers and 'previews' (how can you preview a game? It's not a like a play or film - there's no script, at least there shouldn't be). During the news, gormless, grinning sports reporters get out their cliché dictionaries. Funny how the first question to the man (it's usually a man) on the spot is "What's the atmosphere like there?" and the reply is always how fantastic it is - once even at an empty Anfield stadium before a single soul had arrived. Funny how teams don't lose games; they dramatically 'crash out' of whatever championship that is being featured. And so it goes on its utterly predictable way.

Overall, it's actually quite difficult to avoid football completely at the moment.

However, I did smile at a trendy bar in Southport advertising a range of World Cup Cocktails representing the competing nations for £6 each.

Paul Bailey said...

Russ and Nev, like I said, I take a passing interest in football, and seeing as the World Cup only takes place every four years, it’s surely not too much of an intrusion into pub-life. There must surely be pubs or bars that are “World Cup Free.”

The 7am kick-off would be far too early for me, especially on a Saturday. It would be better for the match to start at 7pm this side of the Atlantic, as 3pm eats into the best part of the afternoon. There’s a large beer festival taking place at our local rugby club in Tonbridge. We’d planned to go along, but now Mrs PBT’s wants to watch the game at home.

I can’t blame her really, as whilst the match will be shown in the clubhouse, it will be packed to the gunwales. Eileen is still a little unsteady on her feet, and isn’t keen on crowds, so it makes sense to go along after the football has finished.

I looked up the Butchers Arms ETU, and it looked a decent sort of place. I wonder if it still sells Draught Bass?

I somewhat doubt that, despite proven allegations of cheating by Vote Leave, any charges will be brought against Banks and chums. At the very least, a charge of contempt should be brought after the way he and his side-kick basically took the piss out of the Parliamentary Committee they appeared before.

ETU said...

Yep, draught Bass is a regular at the Butcher's Arms Paul. The trouble is, the pub has been "improved" recently.

The parquet floor in the lounge has been revealed, and hooray for that. However, the Wedgewood-green panelling, with the detail picked out in white has you feeling as if you are perhaps sat within a piece of reproduction pottery, and many of the historic rugby and cricket photos are gone. There are other changes too tedious to list, but the overall effect has been to end the hitherto timelessness of the place.

Most of all though, TVs showing sport etc. now feature quite prominently.

It's what we sadly often find though, isn't it?

(I've earned a couple of million red arrows on the Daily Mail's comment threads to date, incidentally, so I'm not going to do anything other than to agree with your political comments here just now.)