Friday, July 2, 2010

the world cup from england

as you've been able to tell, i've been anticipating the world cup for a long while, and have been especially excited to experience all the matches in a country whose population, in general, takes the tournament much more seriously than people from my home nation, the US.

when i moved to england i joined an informal five-a-side match organized by fellow astronomers and their friends. i felt silly telling people i played "soccer" but when i told british friends i played "football" once a week, some people looked confused and actually asked if i wore shoulder pads!?

here are a few other phrases i've picked up over the last two years that have been especially useful for avoiding getting laughed at by the brits during the world cup (which happens anyway, i should add):

it's called a "draw" here, not a "tie."

the score is "nil-nil" not "zero-zero."

it's a "match," not a "game."

they usually call a "coach" and "manager."

your uniform, shin guards, shoes and all are called your "kit." in fact "shoes" are really "boots" and "shin guards" are called something else that i cant remember right now because i'm the only one who ever wears them when we play!

the sport is played on a "pitch," not a "field."

the "skipper" is the captain.

when time is up and there is a draw, the teams have to play "extra time" not "over time."

if you have the lower score at the end of the match you have been "defeated." you didnt "lose."

the sweet yummy things cutely decorated below are called "fairy cakes," not "cup cakes."

the media build up to the world cup here was intense. they constantly gave us messages of impending glory for the english boys. they told us that the national team had a solid chance to bring home the world cup trophy. now, i'm all for team spirit and a country supporting their players, but i was a bit surprised to hear such lofty build up, when my own predictions didnt have england going past the quarter finals (not that i'm any authority, mind). yes, the england squad was made up of quality players, but wasnt this a bit too much pressure to put on them before they even stepped onto the south african pitch?

but from what i have witnessed over the last several weeks, i think it was fitting for the english to build up their team with such ridiculously high expectations because it allowed them to enjoy their national past time: moaning.

i dont say this to be mean, i genuinely think people (must) enjoy it. it all started with moaning about how badly the national team played when they "couldnt even beat the US." i heard echoes of the ever-popular refrain: "typical." now i admit that the US got away with a trick by pulling out a point from the match, but neither team looked impressive enough to come away with 3 points (in my opinion).

i watched england's second match at a pub and was completely shocked by the abusive phrases the (admittedly drunken) lads yelled at the TV as it became less and less likely that england would score a winning goal against algeria. and then the fans that made the trip all the way to south africa to support their national team stood up and booed the players off the field. really? give them no credit what-so-ever for actually getting a point from the match - they didnt lose!!? nope. abusive insults and boo-ing.

after the USA's final match, a friend commented that he was very surprised by my calmness after our loss. well, we didnt play well or score goals. you cant win a match if you dont score goals. but i guess no matter what reaction i had it would have seem subdued compared to the disgust shown by typical english football fan after a loss. thats not entirely true though, because after their loss to germany, the city of nottingham was amazingly quiet.

any way you look at it, the premier league players make such stupid amounts of money each year to play the sport that maybe they should be able to handle a little pressure from their country folk.

regardless, i'm excited to see the rest of the world cup matches after a brief couple days of football withdrawal! the south american teams are looking strong, but i'm still hoping that the trophy will be won by a national that has never won before.

and dont forget, thre is a total solar eclipse on the same day as the world cup final, july 11, which will happen shortly before kickoff! you'll be able to watch the eclipse live on line this year! stay tuned....


astrondrew said...

A lovely post and thanks for the solar eclipse tip-off. Just a couple of points, I'd like to make.

You do "lose" matches as well as getting "defeated".

They are also called "cup cakes".

The booing does seem a little wrong but in the heat of the moment, when you've travelled thousands of miles and paid hundreds of pounds to support the team and they perform that badly, you want to get your feelings across.

From the stands, you can't calmly explain to them that it wasn't good enough and booing is really your only option.

They gave them support for 90 minutes. They gave them enough credit by being there in the first place. It is hardly down the road. They are entitled to voice their disappointment.

The abusive language hurled at televisions is far more to do with drink and idiocy than football. Turn the screens off and make it any other Saturday night in a major city. You'll find little difference.

I'm afraid that the money is too easy a target. The truth is that they are paid that money by their clubs and they perform for their clubs. The clubs aren't going to pay them less because they don't perform well for different teams.

The major plus for me was the behaviour of the fans. After decades of travelling England support being a magnet for morons with small lives, it seems that a mixture of excellent work by the authorities and some growing up, the World Cup has passed without any incidents to speak of. I applaud that as much as I boo the morons of the past.

England were never going to win it. I knew that.

Faith is believing what you know ain't so. I had faith in the team. Like so many occasions, that faith was ultimately empty but I enjoyed my delusion.

Anyway, the beautiful game rumbles on. Reality is so much more beautiful than fantasy.

astrondrew said...

Oh...and they are called shinpads.

Unknown said...

Yep, that sounds about right.

One thing though: England isn't Britain's team. There's three other ones. None at the world cup. People do tend to get them confused, and it's a bit irritating, if like me, you inhabit a Celtic Fringe!

Unknown said...

good point, ztephen! i think i cleared up all the british/english ambiguities now. thanks.