“We all live in a Matamata Bus, a Matamata Bus, a Matamata Bus. We all live in a…” To the tune of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.
Here's a little more from our recent travels
In a few hours I jump on a plane and head to the UK. This trip is a World Cup-infused football pilgrimage, brought about by the fact I made a big mistake in not going to Brazil a few ago. A trip back to the motherland, particularly at this time of year, is always good as there’s a game on pretty much every night. And we’ll be doing a lot of that. During my travels around the Northern region during 2013 I was joined quite regularly by my eldest son, Nathan. He’s coming with me this time too, so it’s kind of an extension of what we did before, along with an opportunity to ramp up my football brainwashing and imprinting programme. As any good father would do. We arrive in London on Friday afternoon and have a match to look forward to the next day, when we catch up with Jean’s best friend whose partner is a Middlesbrough fan. As luck would have it, Boro are in town to play Charlton Athletic, so after a couple of touristy things in the morning we’ll be on the train and out to the Valley. Our itinerary is pretty much guided by the games we’re going to watch. Tuesday night sees us at Vicarage Road for Watford v Brentford, then on Thursday evening we’ll be at White Hart Lane for the first match in a Spurs double-header. Besiktas are in town for their Europa League group game and there’s something about European nights at the Lane… I can’t wait. Then on Sunday we’re back at Tottenham for their Premier League game against Southampton. I’ve...Learn More
It feels right that Germany beat Argentina this morning. The best team at this year’s tournament has lifted the best looking trophy in world sport at the best country for a World Cup. Nice work them. This was a decent final won by a memorable goal but won’t Gonzalo Higuain be Gonzalo Higuain’s worst nightmare for the rest of his life? That was a shocker of a miss. I’d hate to be inside his head because the voices would be frightening. I wouldn’t be surprised if he missed the bus back to the hotel because he’d strung himself up in the Maracana rafters. Or Lionel had. As good as Germany had been all tournament they could easily have lost today and I wouldn’t have been able to raise a complaint. Argentina were more enterprising than they’d been all tournament and it should have paid dividends. On such small things do big games change, however. Seize the day and all that. That huge shuddering sound after the final whistle wasn’t all the fireworks going off it was 200 million Brazilians letting out the most significant sigh of relief in the history of the world. Their worst week, after three superb weeks, could so, so easily have plummeted so deep they wouldn’t have recovered for a generation or more. They thought 1950 was bad. How much worse could this have been…? One question: does Germany get to keep the trophy now they’ve become the first country to win the non-Jules Rimet Trophy three times? Or does it only count as once because West Germany won the first two? I guess I could Google it. Later....Learn More
European efficiency wins out over South American I don’t know what. We’re not talking about the final yet, of course, just Brazil’s decent from football icons to grubby also-rans. My first memory of Brazil was their magnificent side from 1982. The names roll off the tongue: Zico, Eder, Falcao, Junior and, the magnificent Socrates. That was a side. Of course, they ultimately fell to European efficiency too, with a Rossi-infused Azzuri turning them over in a superb knock-out group game, but their players were the stuff of legend. Particularly for a ten year old kid. This current lot? A bit disappointing don’t you think? All the jokes have been made so I won’t add anything new here. I can’t. I’ll just add my voice to the chorus the aggrieved, then watch and wait to see what happens next. Hopefully we’ll get a good chance to see the future of Brazil next year when the Under-20 World Cup is in NZ. I guess that’s where their next wave will come from. Today’s match could really have been worse. Thiago Silva should have been sent after three minutes when he hauled Robben back. An incorrect penalty was awarded followed by an incorrect yellow (which should have been a red). Just imagine how a ten man Brazil without Silva would have gone, after an eleven man Brazil without Silva was massacred by the Germans. It was probably best he stayed on… The Dutch will be pleased with third, to be honest. It wasn’t a great Holland side, but Van Gall got the most out of them and I’m sure, like him, some...Learn More
Today was a travelling day for me, and a bloody miserable one at that. I headed north to meet the family who have been up at the in-laws since Thursday. It’s the school holidays and we’ve had to be a bit creative to keep the boys under control. Creative, for me, has meant a little break while Jean has had to manage the kids. She’s done well, with the help of her parents. But now I’ve headed north to join them for a couple of days and it was wet out. Very wet, and windy and grey and wintery. It made for a fun drive… Before heading over the bridge I planned to stop in at Kiwitea Street, ostensibly to take a few photos for a Chatham Cup preview I’ll be putting together during the week. The two teams on show in today’s NRFL Premier League match, Central United and Hamilton Wanderers, meet at the same venue in two weeks in the quarter finals of the cup. So this was a perfect opportunity to get a few pics and a heads up for what’ll go down in that far more important match. But the rain put paid to that too. By the time I got to the Bombay hills I’d decided not to bother as I couldn’t think of too many things worse than getting soaked at a match I had no real stake in. As it turns out the decision was a good one because the game was called off anyway. Wanderers were probably happy to have a respite from their weekly trek up the goat track. As an aside, there...Learn More
And then we had the Netherlands versus Argentina. It wasn’t exactly a classic, was it? I guess it was made to look even worse by what went on yesterday. Maybe the teams made it worse themselves having seen what happened. I dunno. Technically, it wasn’t a bad game of football. It’s just that the stars were the defensive players or rather the coaching staff who got their systems right to the point where each team cancelled the other out. The excitement was strangled out of the game. That’s always likely to happen in a knock-out game, particularly a game just one step from the most important prize in world sport. My sporting focus shifted a bit today to the 5th stage of the Tour De France. We lost the defending champ, Chris Froome, after he crashed twice in the wet before even getting on to the madness that was the cobbled sections of the stage. Froome crashed yesterday too and you could just see how broken his body was. Guys were crashing all over the place. On the straights, at the round-a-bouts, on the cobbles. It was an epic, race defining stage at a point in the race where such things almost never happen. It just illustrates how fine the lines are in top level sport. A slip here or there and you’re out. That’s what the two teams in today’s World Cup semi-final were ultra-cautiously guarding against so I can understand it even if I didn’t particularly like it. I’m pretty much out of words already, to be honest. Just under 300 words is enough to describe a game...Learn More
It’s been a whole day since semi-final number one finished and, like pretty much everyone I guess, I still struggle with what happened this morning. Brazil 1. Germany 7. In the Semi-Final of the World Cup. In Brazil. In a day and age where no-one gets hammered like that. Brazil hadn’t lost a competitive match at home since 1975 apparently. That’s nearly a life time. Nearly my lifetime! All sorts of crazy stats have come out after the match. That’s how monumental this result was. It was like no other game of football. Ever. We can’t put this in a New Zealand context because such a thing doesn’t exist. Kiwi sports fans cannot comprehend it because we don’t even remotely care about any of our sports teams as much. No, not even the All Blacks. Not by a long, long way. Australian football commentator Craig Foster has probably put it best in several recent tweets: “Impossible for us to know how Brazil feels. Consider: roll ALL our sports into 1; increase population by factor 5; give us 5 World Cups; Make our national identity largely predicated on football; all our sport heroes footballers; then host Cup only 2nd time, prepare for years THEN view Cup as opportunity to erase black mark of Maracanazo, 1950, as redemption. Glorious possibilities.. then receive sete, at home!” Indeed. Klose couldn’t have picked any better stage to break Ronaldo’s World Cup goal scoring record. Against Ronaldo’s Brazil. With Ronaldo in the stands commentating. That’s how utterly ruthless the performance was. It was as if the statue of Christ the Redeemer donned lederhosen and slowly raised a giant...Learn More