Thank goodness that’s over. If ever I was afflicted with World Cup Fever, I am now wholly and utterly cured. In this life, there is nothing quite as useful as a complete and utter bollocksing to convince you that it’s time to gently ease yourself off the bandwagon and let it continue on without you. In fact, I intend to watch it as it trundles along before disappearing into the South African sunset; its wheels ever-ready to come spinning off into the nearest ditch.
I had been so well prepared and had collected nearly all the memorabilia that fell daily from the pages of the newspapers. I had the plastic support flag on my car, the green and gold scarf around my neck and the novelty soccer ball. Heck, I even indulged in face paint. Sadly, it was all for nought.
It’s often said that success has many fathers whilst failure is an orphan. And when they say ‘orphan’, they’re not referring to the singing and dancing, red-hair and freckles, ‘couldn’t be cuter if she tried’ variety. (Although, that said, ‘Hard Knock Life’ would certainly be an appropriate anthem for the Socceroos). Rather, they mean the kind of orphan that exists solely because his or her parents have decided to move house without informing the child.
It’s tempting to give our national soccer team a hard time after their comprehensive thrashing. I, for one, am determined to give in completely to that temptation. Too often, we make excuses for our elite sports people and, for the most part, we support them in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. However, such support is not for nothing. There is the tacit but very real understanding that failure will be treated with all the tolerance of bullants in a pair of Y-fronts. To lose is one thing – that much is forgivable. But to be so utterly trounced, especially when the beating is at the hands of a bunch of strudel-eating blouses requires a level of retribution usually reserved for those who steal your parking spot. For whilst the German team were (without doubt) extremely skillful, they also had a tendency to squeal like a punched pig at the slightest hint of physical contact. Indeed, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much diving without the support of scuba gear.
Sadly, there is no crime so great as to get an entire nation out of bed early without something to show for it. Robbed of vital hours of sleep we are even quicker to judge than usual. Going by the footage on the news, fans were demanding answers and that heads roll before even the next match was played. Had this advice been taken, a seriously depleted Socceroos side would have emerged to play Ghana as a result. But, then again, when you consider last night’s draw, perhaps all is not yet lost. There’s still a slight hope that the Socceroos may yet reconnect with the public. In fact, now that I think about it, there are lots of things that the big wigs at Soccer Australia could do to recapture the public’s collective imagination.
Firstly, Barry Hall should be recruited. If the Germans flinched at the prospect of bouncing off one of our current crop of soccer players, the prospect of colliding with Planet Hall may, of itself, be sufficient to inspire a forfeit. Secondly, Men At Work should be forced to reform and play the song ‘Down Under’ – complete with the copyright infringing flute-line – on a continuous loop. Thirdly, all meals and catering supplies should be donated to charity and replaced with a strict Shane Warne-endorsed diet of tinned baked beans to ensure not only a fire in the belly but in the compartment directly beneath it also. Fourthly, the team needs to draw its inspiration from a suitable source from within the Australian sporting pantheon – one of the most impressive sporting performances within living memory was in 1991 when the Hawthorn Football Club dished out a fifty three point thrashing to the West Coast Eagles. Clearly they were inspired and, I’d suggest, inspired by Angry Anderson in his Batmobile and the performance of ‘Bound For Glory’ at half time. If I had my way, Angry would be forced to do a lap before the game, kind of like an Australian ‘haka’. If ‘Bound for Glory’ doesn’t get the opposition teams trembling in their boots, then a quick burst of ‘Suddenly’ would most certainly do the trick.
Sadly, however, I don’t think the powers that be possess the necessary vision to pick up these thoughtful and yet very practical ideas. For that reason, I suspect we’ll have to get used to hearing about our dismal performance at the World Cup. I, for one, will be tuning out. That’s not to say that the World Cup is not without merit – it provides a useful reminder of why we dislike Continental Europe and why, broadly speaking, soccer is the most magical of sports in that it takes eighty otherwise useful minutes and makes them disappear.
Then again, perhaps the most amazing thing about the World Cup is its ability to prove just how fickle I am. I’ve never really cared for soccer and it was a fool’s errand to pretend I ever did. So I shall dislodge the car-flag and tuck away the green and gold neck scarf in a lowly dresser drawer. I will turn off my alarm, deflate my novelty soccer ball and dismantle my cardiac worrying air-horn. And as for the face paint – my decision to skimp and use regular paint rather than proper face paint, has never seemed more foolish.