John McCormick: something to get your teeth into

John McCormick:  here’s something to get your teeth into

I said in my last post that I’m not a fan of the World Cup. That’s true but I do like football so I’ve watched the majority of games. One or two have been missed because of unavoidable clashes with the important parts of my life but, generally, TV schedules appear to have been adjusted so nothing competes with the football except maybe tennis, which I don’t watch. I’ve even recorded a few games which I couldn’t watch live and played them through afterwards.

And what are my thoughts on the games I’ve seen? To misquote Rick in Casablanca,

I’d probably be bored if I thought of them all.

There have been only a few games, and a few sections of games, that have fired my enthusiasm. Like I said, the spark, the fire, it’s just not there for me. Those few games and sections do include some tasty football from the big boys and there has also been some sterling (now there’s a pertinent word) action from the minnows in there with them. But there has also been enough to make my mind wander, which is how I’ve come to write this.

Spain going out. Well, well. That’s a blow for the “I can bore you more than you can bore me” school of football. I enjoyed them being taken apart by constructive teams who played good football.

The Netherlands and Chile were both part of the Spanish empire and had to fight long and hard for independence, so I suppose it’s a case of “the empire strikes back” but does it mean Spain’s teams’ imperious performances in this year’s European competition were a fluke? No, not by any means, but maybe next year some capable teams will be getting stuck in and conquering the conquistadors.

Uruguay were also under the control of the Spanish, fighting them and finally gaining independence in 1828 or thereabouts, after Portugal had annexed the territory to stabilise their giant next-door colony. England helped Uruguay in their struggle and in the treaty negotiations which gave them their freedom. Look how they’ve repaid us. I suppose that this time it’s a case of “the vampire strikes back”.

Uruguay, according to the book “Soccernomics”, have no chance of winning the world cup. Only the biggest countries (and even England’s not big enough to be one of them) can succeed. It’s all down to population, apparently. Tell that to Uruguay, (population 3.5 million) and also to Belgium, (population 10 million), which put Russia in its place.

Belgium, incidentally, grew out of provinces that stayed loyal to the Spanish Empire when the Dutch bit split off. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between Holland and France it became independent  but remains split into Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north and French-speaking Wallonia to the south. This doesn’t explain Fellaini’s hair although it might explain why he uses his arms like a windmill.

Meanwhile, back in South America, much of the central area was becoming free from Spain. After a lot of turmoil, including wars of independence and internal and cross-border civil wars a group of states evolved, one being Argentina. Argentina then laid claim to a group of islands off the coast on the grounds that in 1493 the pope had said Spain could have them and three hundred years later the Treaty of Utrecht had confirmed this (it hadn’t). This might explain why Spain supports Argentina’s claim to the Islands, but it doesn’t explain why Spain also says Gibraltar is Spanish when the same treaty gave Gibraltar to Britain.

Spain, Argentina and the state that is Stan Collymore also ignore the fact that the British, who didn’t agree with the pope in 1493, twice had possession of the Falklands, as they called them, before Argentina came into existence. So while I can see why Argentinian footballers might demonstrate I can’t understand why Stan Collymore should say we thieved them. Unless of course, he thinks he’s the pope.

But I digress. Let’s ignore the politics and the football and stick with the important stuff – the commentary and commentators. I’ve two awards to give out

Firstly, the most contrived comment from the World Cup award. France were well on their way to destroying Switzerland (the only country I’ve mentioned without colonial connections) and the commentator said

“ And not for the first time, there really is a mountain between France and Switzerland.”

I don’t know who the commentator was but next time he’s on I’m using the mute button.

Secondly, the World Cup sense of humour award. This goes to Martin O’Neil. You can see his worthy winning effort yourself:

And on that theme I’ll leave you for now. I’ll be in Spain for the final. Usually the bars put big screens outside and people gather and watch. Maybe they still will. Who knows, who cares.

Hasta la vista

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

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