I’m writing this from my couch while semi-watching Andy Murray vs. Roger Federer battle it out for the Men’s Tennis gold medal. Although this is just one of the many medal events at London 2012 it is also, perhaps, one of the most significant for the host nation. As I write Murray is up one set to love and 2-0 up in the second set. Less than a month ago Federer beat Murray in the Wimbledon final but now, the day after perhaps the most glorious day for British sport since England lifted the Football World Cup in 1966, Andy Murray is all over R-Fed and if it keeps going like this Great Britain will have another gold medal to add to the tally. Federer is playing like he is scared. Scared of Murray. Scared of the crowd. Scared of Britain. If Federer, who is probably the greatest man to have ever played the sport, wins this, I will be extremely surprised. I will also be pretty disappointed.
Unlike us Aussies, the British don’t really know what glory feels like these days. It’s been nearly half a century since anything like this has happened to them.
They won three gold medals on Saturday night. I remember the jubilation of Sydney 2000 when we smashed those arrogant American closet gay frat boys in the pool then the next week had Cathy Freeman make history in the 400m.
As a kid living in Sydney, the Olympics were the first time I really felt any sense of pride about where I am from and who we are as a people. After the Olympics ended we won a whole bunch of other shit too. We also didn’t go into recession, live in Wolverhampton or have any riots that lasted longer than a day. The British deserve this. Probably a lot more than we did.
Wimbledon is a sea of Union Jack’s. The crowd seem to be more confident that their boy can get up against the same opponent who outclassed him less than a month ago. At the beginning of the third set Murray is up 6-2 6-1. Its an absolute bloodbath, The sun is shining and Great Britain no longer look like sad old rockers reliving past glories. They are vibrant, proud and looking forward to the future. It’s like Cool Britannia but with more energy and less cocaine.
Third set. 5-4. Murray has won the first point, Federer the second. Murray with an ace makes it 30-15. Holy shit! Another ace! 40-15! Can he do it? Can Andy Murray win a Gold Medal at the Olympics? He hasn’t won a grand slam title before. Just 28 days ago he lost to Federer in the Wimbledon final.
Ace. Against the odds, Andy Murray wins another gold for Team GB.
I am so happy there is a nation of people experiencing the sheer joy we had in 2000. In recent years the UK have been through some serious shit, both in the real world and in the realm of sport. London 2012 not only represents a period of great success in the sporting history of Great Britain but a turning point on how the rest of the world see this small yet prolific country.
I cant tell if Andy Murray is naturally a super relaxed guy or he is just completely overwhelmed by what he has just done that he has forgotten how to express emotion. One thing is for sure this has been one of the moments of London 2012 for me.
Now what to do for the 5 hours before Usain Bolt?
As I mentioned a couple of posts back I had a bit of a rough patch. Unfortunately this started a couple of days before the Euros and has only really started to sort itself out this week. As a soon to be football columnist I really should have paid more attention but it wasn’t easy. I did watch a few games and have seen all the highlights so I still have a pretty good idea about what is going on. I have been playing some serious catch up in time for the quarterfinals. Been reading a fair bit about it and I now feel comfortable sharing my uneducated opinions with the Internet.
First of all I would like to recap on my predictions.
In Group A I was right about the Russians not going through but wrong about the Greeks. Russia played tasty football in the first game (I didn’t watch it live I was too busy scaling my house trying to get through an upstairs window as I had lost my keys the night before) but I saw the highlights. I was scared they would prove me wrong. I’m glad I wasn’t. Their fans are a pack of Neo-Nazi cunts that would have only caused more trouble as the tournament went on.
I’m glad the Greeks went though. As I said in my debut post I am very fond of the Greeks as people and they have been through (mainly self inflicted) hell the last couple of years. I will put my (rented) house on them getting a proper hammering against the mighty Germany in the quarters but football is a magical thing and nobody predicted Greece to win it in 2004. If they can find some way of knocking Germany out it would bring their entire nation a huge amount of pride. I just really can’t see it happening.
I do feel for Poland as they looked decent in the opener, particularly going forward. But shit happens. It’s just a shame for them it had to happen at home.
I can’t believe I didn’t pick the Germans to win the group. What the hell was I thinking? They play marvelous football. Gomez is all class. Schweinsteiger too. Actually they all look good. Joachim Low is a great manager and every time I have seen Germany play under him they have kept their shape, always looked threatening and had a great team spirit.
The Dutch on the other hand…
OMG what a mess! They let their egos take a massive, wet, steamy dump all over the hopes and dreams of their supporters. They didn’t even try to play as a team. The defenders looked as if they had been up until 5am smoking cones back in the hotel room. Robben is an absolute disgrace. You would think when his hair started falling out he would grow up a little. Not that I can talk, but then again I’m not on anywhere near as much money as he is so he should really know better. Van Persie had a shocker, which is great for Arsenal fans as he, probably aint going anywhere now. The only player who showed any semblance of maturity was Wesley Schneider. On that: for all you trivia fans out there Wesley Schneider and I are both June 9 babies. You might need that one-day.
Portugal (who I initially though would win the group) were great I thought and I think will cruise pass the Czech Republic in tonight’s quarter final. We still haven’t seen the best of Ronaldo and Pepe is an absolute star. I think the way the draw is laid out Portugal and Spain could meet in the semis, which would be a champagne grudge-match. God I love football…
Forgive my smugness but I was right about Group C and Group D too although group D was closer than I thought it was going to be. Spain look pretty mean. Italy look like they are getting somewhere. They also haven’t cheated yet which is surprising though I’m sure it’s a matter of time as old habits can be hard to break.
Croatia looked good and I’d be miffed if I was them. They should take quite a few positives from the way they played. Ireland was outclassed. No surprises there then.
France didn’t look great especially against Sweden. I think the Spanish will make tapas out of them. Particularly in the middle of the park. England look pretty resilient and I reckon will cause Italy some headaches. Milner has go to go though; he is having an absolute nightmare. START WITH THEO!
Anyway predictions for the Quarter Finals:
Czech Republic 1 – 3 Portugal
Germany 3 – 0 Greece
England 1 – 1 Italy (England in extra time or penalties)
Spain 3 – 1 France
Also next week fffootball.com.au will be launching with me as Chief Columnist and Nick Hollins (of Skydreams fame) as Editor In Chief. We will have a whole swag of contributors so if you like football then bookmark our cracker asses.
Until next time..
Its half time in the Euro 2012 clash between England and Ukraine. I woke up late so I only caught the last five minutes of the first half. From what I gather I haven’t missed much. Rooney has been rusty. Milner has been rubbish. Ukraine are certainly not weak.
I make the effort to watch England play. I mean they hardly play the most attractive football, but fuck, I’m a fan.
My relationship with England starts with my Dads side of the family. Dad is an Essex boy born and raised. We used to go over there as a kid. Back then I used to think it was a very pretty country (we always went over in summer). I thought their junk food was awesome (Sugar Puffs, Prawn Cocktail Walkers). It was a different world yet it somehow just felt normal. Like home.
In the 90s I thought their kids TV was a bit more intelligent than what we had over here. They had the MC Hammer cartoon and they had the Big Breakfast. We had Agro’s Cartoon Connection which seemed way too white bred for my cosmopolitan eight year old tastes.
As I got older I learned to love the fact that music actually means something to the English national psyche. While Australians backpack through the world arrogantly talking about our superior skills in Rugby and Cricket (two games people really don’t give a fuck in most parts of the world) the English modestly just know that The Beatles. The Stones, Led Zeppelin, Massive Attack…actually pop music in general was created there as we know it. They had Shakespeare. James Bond. Hitchcock. The lot.
The English, for the most part, value the arts. At least more than we do. As an Australian adolescent I really respected this about my English brethren. We played sport, they play guitar..That’s just the way it is.
One thing I found to be equally unpleasant and charming about the English is their class system. The English have Chav Supermarkets (Iceland) and Posh Supermarkets (Waitrose). Footballers the lower classes respect and admire (Wayne Rooney) where as those slightly more well to do think he is just a thug. They have Chav TV networks and newspapers (The Sun, Daily Sport, ITV) and the same products tailor made for the opposite end of the spectrum (The Guardian, Independent, Channel 4). Coming from Australia, the fact that this class divide exists is initially rather confronting but when you think about it the thing seems to work and nobody really complains about it.
People also cue up in England a lot. They really love it. They have these weird little Soviet department stores called Argos which are like K Mart except that instead of walking into a big shop with a trolley and picking up what you need you have to walk into this room and look for what you need in a catalogue, write down the product code then go to a cashier and pay for the items. You then have to wait until what you have asked for is collected from the storeroom out back. Your number will come up and then you can take your eight AA batteries and spatula home. It reminds me of some kind of post war rationing inspired spin on capitalism. Argos also made me think that for better or for worse Australia was more like America than we would care to admit.
I love English people too. I generally find them to have a great sense of humor and a passion for the finer things in life.
The English love a drink. In England you can buy booze from the supermarket for not very much money at all. In London especially I found everyone to be pissed come seven o’clock at night. Alcoholism is a real issue in the UK but instead of treating the population like a bunch of four year olds (like in Australia) the powers that be feel education and taxation is the way to combat the problem. I put this down to the history of the place. The English have been through a shitload more than we have as a country and one thing they seem to do is give the citizens a bit more respect. Riots and race related conflicts aside (these things happen in most big cities at some stage and are unfortunate symptoms of high density living in areas where some people don’t have the advantages others have) the English seem to learn from their mistakes pretty well. They give a shit about the society they live in. Sometimes they don’t like it but they move forward, try to make things better and if that fails they will start all over again.
ENGLAND 1 – UKRAINE 0 (England to face Italy in the quarter finals)
The last time I was in the UK was seven years ago and to be honest I miss it. London is the only other city on earth where as soon as I arrive I know exactly where I’m going. I have family in the UK, friends in the UK and I know that if I went back I would instantly feel at home again. Australia is great for many reasons but in my opinion we lack an attitude here which the English possess. They are hungrier than us. They sing more. They want it. We just think we already have it.
I’m glad England are through to the next stage of the Euros and I hope they win the fucking thing. I just want them to be happy again.