Hello. I remember back in 2005 when the Olympics were awarded to London I was unashamedly underwhelmed having no interest in athletics or rowing or showjumping. I have to confess now that I do appreciate the games more and enjoy the chance to see some more esoteric sports such as handball, volleyball and water polo. Olympic football has largely passed me by in all honesty so I was pleasantly surprised when my significant other announced she had bought tickets for us to watch the double header of group games between the titans of New Zealand and Egypt followed by the mighty Belarus against some mob of minnows from Brazil. All of a sudden I was enthused by the prospect of a visit to Old Trafford to see the matches. I hadn't been to Old Trafford for years (Last time I had been Fabrizio Ravanelli scored against them for Middlesbrough!) so it was shaping up to be a good day out. The day itself was good although a couple of games with an hour or so in between makes for a long afternoon, so long in fact the other half fell asleep during a football match with a mere 66000 people in attendance proving my assertion that she can and will sleep anywhere. It was a genuinely nice experience to go along to a football match where segregation wasn't necessary and a genuinely good atmosphere pervaded. I suspect it was a peculiarly twenty first century experience to go to a double header of matches between countries from South America, Europe, Africa and Oceania and end up sitting next to a guy from Kazakhstan and end up discussing flight durations to Central Asia but such was my lot on the day. The football was generally decent and both games benefited from the comparative underdogs scoring early goals. Egypt's Ahmed Hegazy caught the eye as did elements of the Belarussian midfield which looked neat and tidy but the main attraction was surely the Brazilian side.
|The spirit of Olympic football. A periscopey thing made of highly toxic mercury|
The stadium filled up markedly for the second game with what I can only assume was every Brazilian with a passport appearing to cheer on the selecao. In the end the Brazilians were just too damned strong for Belarus and ran out comfortable 3-1 winners. Neymar might just be the best (non-St Mirren) player I've seen with my own two eyes. "He got game" as they say in the states.
|Pele's got my name on the back of one his jerseys too. Honestly|
On the subject of St Mirren I noticed that Manchester United have named a stand after Alex Ferguson. I can only assume that this was for his sterling work at Love St in the late 1970 and early 80s. I imagine it's only a matter of time before they name their other stands after Ricky MacFarlane, Alex Smith and Tom Hendrie. Who knew that even the corporate shills at Man U thought so highly of St Mirren?
As you probably know the individual flair of the Brazilians got them a silver medal but wasn't enough to deal with the characteristically savvy and talented Mexicans. From a footy shirt perspective the tournament was a bit of a non event. Most countries sported a fairly plain shirt with their national flag in place of a badge but some such as USA, Morocco and Egypt didn't even bother with that! The best shirts were probably the victorious Mexico, Honduras or (whisper it) Team GB. Team GB was mercifully short lived experiment with a distinctly temporary air about it and it all felt a bit forced and understandably artificial. It was the first time in my lifetime such a thing had existed and I never really got a handle on how to relate to it.
Until next time take care, have fun and enjoy the new season. Yeaaaaay, proper footy is back.