Friday, June 11, 2010


The World Cup

It's finally here. The biggest event on the football calendar begins late tonight.

Work and family demands have meant that I haven't been able to devote as much blogging time to the preparations as I would have liked, but don't for a moment get the impression that I'm not excited! Answers to my last quiz can be found here, by the way.

I would dearly have liked to get to South Africa, but it wasn't to be this time. Herewith, though, a series of verbal snapshots from the last tournament, which I did manage to get to, as an introduction to the current one.

The army of drunken yet mostly friendly English fans in Frankfurt and Nuremberg, so many of them the supporters of obscure third- or fourth-division clubs. I learnt very soon that, perhaps uniquely, the most passionate England fans tend not to be the followers of the big clubs.

The magnificent Korean fans in Frankfurt. Whatever the claims of the Dutch, the Brazilians et al., I still consider these to have been the most impressive group of fans at the tournament. The sound of A-ri-rang echoing around the Waldstadion will stay with me forever.

A wonderfully kind young family in Munich who offered my friend Shane Davis and me accommodation for the night following the Australia v. Brazil game, once we realised that we weren't going to make the last train back to our hotel just outside of Frankfurt. They now have my Australia shirt.

A generous Croatian fan who patted me on the back when I croaked "bad luck" in broken German following the seething melodrama of Stuttgart. Not the reaction I was expecting, and all the more welcome for that.

A Thai journalist who was clearly just as much of a World Cup nut as I was, joyfully recalling past milestones from an event his country had never qualified for while helping the venerable Brian Glanville with his luggage before another game in Frankfurt.

The enthusiastic surge of the Dutch fans through a cobblestoned street as they warmed up for their first round clash with Argentina. The ancient walkway was turned orange in a matter of minutes.

Two tongue-tied Argentina fans, on the same day, being interviewed by a TV reporter (in English) about the evening's game. They were polite but monosyllabic until the reporter asked them "what they were going to shout" that evening. Then, it was a sneaky conspiratorial grin, and the two ripped into "Esta noche vamos a ganar!" at top volume.

Seeing Franz Beckenbauer...absolutely everywhere.

Welcome to the World Cup. May it be a memorable and amicable one.

A Brazilian fan wearing a Ronaldo jersey blasting a horn ridiculously loud and a Scottish guy comparing him to Ronaldo's size (I think?).

Sharing a cabin after the Croatia game in a crowded train with a few Croatians who were as nice to be with as the rest of the Croatian fans that day despite the sombre mood. They appreciated my positive appraisal of the young and then relatively unknown Luka Modric.
I think the one thing we all took from Stuttgart is that our impression of Croatians has been very much coloured by Croatian-Australian behaviour supporting Melb and Syd CSC.

Evidenced by how a big of a !@#$ Simunic is.

Croatian-Croatians are fine. :p
this shall be a good cup
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