I have not been posting at my normal pace lately. Apart from the fact that nothing has really grabbed my attention politically on any level of late (summer blahs maybe?), I have been enthralled by the Fifa World Cup of Football. Yes that annoying competition that comes around every 4 years and completely ruins your normal CBC viewing schedule.
I actually enjoyed this World Cup more than I have for many years. The reason was this time around I had no illusions of what my country of birth England would achieve in this tournament. In fact for the first time ever I avoided the first two matches that they played both 2 – 1 losses against Italy and Uruguay. I watched the final game England played, a dour 0 – 0 tie against supposed “minnows” Costa Rica which only enforced my opinion of the dire state of the English game.
My first memory of a World Cup was in 1966 which was held in England. The final was at Wembley Stadium between England and West Germany. My family and I were driving back from a vacation in Snowdonia in North Wales, which in those days prior to Motorways was a tedious 8 hour drive. The final was on the car radio, the roads were deserted as we drove home. This was the most exciting sporting event that I have ever followed. England were 2 – 1 up with 2 minutes to go until full time and West German defender Wolfgang Weber tied the game. In 11th minute of extra time Geoff Hurst scored his second goal of the game which actually wasn’t a goal. The ball hit the under side of the cross bar and did not cross the line but the goal was awarded because of a language barrier between the USSR linesman and the Swiss referee. With 1 minute left in extra time the Germans were swarming the English goal looking for the equalizer, Bobby Moore cleared the ball from the penalty area to a waiting Geoff Hurst who actually admitted later that he was just trying to get the ball as far into the German end of the field as possible, to run down the clock. He picked up the ball just past the half way line, dribbled the ball for around 20 yards and shot into the German goal. Some fans were already on the pitch thinking the game was over, so that goal should probably not have counted either. But that is football for you. Geoff Hurst is the only player to score a hat trick in a World Cup final.
4 – 2 was the final score and England had won the 1966 World Cup.
In our car it was complete pandemonium, hooting, screaming, hugging. Along the road people had parked and were dancing around their parked cars. As we drove home, it seemed everyone was out celebrating this historic win. The family dynamic of this game ended with my youngest brother being a life long “Hammer” (West Ham United supporter) Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters (who scored the other goal) played for West Ham. My oldest brother (who now lives in Germany) ended up being a Manchester United supporter because of the midfielders Nobby Stiles and Bobby Charlton from this English team. No lasting affect for me I have been a transient football club supporter over the years appreciating a style of football rather than blind tribal loyalties.
For English football it has been going down hill from that point ever since with these two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum in footballing terms. Germany won the World Cup yesterday in Brazil for the fourth time and England went out bottom of Group D after 8 days. That 1966 World Cup their only international success in close to 50 years. My three brothers continue to have a deep dislike for the German football team. But for the first time ever yesterday afternoon I found myself at one of my German buddies houses cheering on the very efficient, excellent German team who beat a very boring defensive Argentina 1 – 0 with a 113th minute goal from 21 year old Mario Götze.
My three brothers see the fact that I was cheering for Germany, as English football sacrilege, in fact my older brother told me my grandfather Billy Barrett (who lived through the London blitz) “Would be spinning in his grave”. But I love good football, played the way its supposed to be played, the way Germany plays the game.
Germany after a couple of early (England) type exits from international tournaments back in the early 2000’s completely rebuilt their national football structure from the youth level up to the national team. Yesterdays World Cup victory was a culmination of that project. The English Football Association still hasn’t figured it out and gave the manager Roy Hodgson, a nice fellow but a person with a very mediocre football CV, a free pass on his teams pathetic showing in Brazil, setting them up for more football misery in Euro 2016 in France.
So for the immediate future in terms of football I will be saying “Deutschland Uber Alles”.