Category Archives: General

Horney footie fans

Vuvuzela blowersThe confederations cup, held in South Africa last month, wasn’t just another international tournament aimed at separating the loyal football fan from the Pounds/Dollars/Rands/Euros (delete as applicable) in his pocket – it was used as a dress rehearsal for the main event some 12 months hence.

On the whole, South Africa passed with flying colours, sure there are a few areas that need to addressed – the pitches were abysmal, players and spectator’s kit went missing and the park and ride was more park than ride.

Perhaps the biggest issue to come out of this tournament was that of the humble vuvuzela – a long plastic horn sometimes know as a “Lepatata”.

I have never been in a football stadium where these horns have been blown but I have been subjected to a cricket match where the opposing fans blew their horns non-stop for 5 days. To say that this was annoying is an understatement.  However the vuvuzela is beefed up version of what those Pakistan fans were blowing at Old Trafford. By all accounts it takes a decent amount of puff and some tricky jaw and lip work to get these beasts to work but when they do the din is just dreadful.

Imagine if you will the sound of a fully-grown cow, covered in honey, slowly being squashed to death in a car crusher whilst being tormented by the sting of 1000 bees. Now amplify that noise by 10,000% and you’re close to what a stadium full of these instruments make. Ok well that might be a bit of an exaggeration but you get my drift….

Lee Dixon even described them, during a match between USA and Italy, as “Quite irritating” – he’s a fine one to talk!

Anyway, these horns have created such a ruckus that Fifa actually considered banning the things from next year’s World Cup.

vuvuzelaNow as much as I dislike the sound and as much as it is likely to drive me nuts next year – I can already see scores of drunken Saffers wondering around Covent Garden taking turns to scare the life out tourists with their horn blowing talents – I think banning them is a bridge too far. What next – will Sepp Blater tell us that we are no longer allowed to chant ENGERLAND, ENGERLAND, ENGERLAND on the terraces. Imagine if you were banned from all international matches simply for singing about the nocturnal activities of the referee. So you see my point – the vuvuzela is as intrinsic to South African football as singing is to the English game. And if South African fans thing that blowing these horns will intimidate the opposing fans – just wait until they hear the chorus of 20,000 English fans!

Anyway – Sepp Blater has announced that the horns will not be banned – and quite right to. Annoying as they are, it seems they are here to stay.

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The top 5 goals in recent World Cup history.

Much has been said on this topic and many a sunday afternoon in the pub has been ruined because of arguments that this has sparked. I hope this one is no different.So here, to add fuel to the already roaring fire is Twelfth Shirt’s top five goals of recent World Cup history.

1 – Diego Maradona: Argentina v England, 1986

Not content with scoring the most Illegally sublime goal in World Cup history (Hand of God), two minutes later Maradona produced the most legally sublime goal in world cup history.

Maradona takes the ball from his own half and just simply runs, in an almost straight line, towards the England goal avoiding every single defender’s boot en route before slipping passed the unlucky Shilton and scoring what is widely rearded as the greatest gol in world cup history. Legendary.

2 – Esteban Cambiasso: Argentina vs. Serbia and Montenegro. 2006

Argentina put six goals passed the hapless Eastern Europeans but none was quite so sweet as their second. This goal is exquisite because there are a total of 24 passes before Cambassio gets the final boot to it. It really is a to to watch.

3 – Dennis Bergkamp: Netherlands v Argentina, 1998

In the final five minutes before extra time, Frank de Boer sends a beautiful pass, some 50 yards, to the boot of Bergkamp. Bergkamp plucks the ball out of the air, cuts inside and finishes with the outside of his boot to utter delight of Dutch (And English) fans everywhere.

5 – Michael Owen: England v Argentina, 1998

It’s the sheer pace of the young striker that makes this goal so exciting. After controlling the pass from David Beckham, Owen sets off on a run that would leave the Argentinean defence (and much of England) breathless.  He finishes the ball with a sweet shot that totally beats the keeper to find the back of the net in what is probably the best goal of his international career.

We wanted to include the Joe Cole goal against Sweden (surely one of the greatest goals ever scored by England) but for the fact that Owen’s belter was against far superior opponents.

6 – Roberto Baggio: Italy v Czechoslovakia, 1990

Roberto Baggio who was making his debut appearance in the World Cup finals receives the ball on his own half way line, plays a quick one-two, makes a spectacular surge forward before deftly curling the ball around the keeper for the first of Italy’s two goals of the match.

…and finally – Saeed El Oweiran: Saudi Arabia v Belgium, 1994

Ok, ok, ok – so I guess I ought to mention the Saudi one too, it is a great goal after all. However I didn’t include it in my top five because, well… frankly my Nan could score against Belgium!

It does bear a striking resemblance to the Maradona goal, don’t you think?

Less than a year to go.

World Cup logo 2010

 

In less than 12 months time 94,000 spectators at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg and countless millions of footie fans around the world will watch the opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Picking the winner this far in advance is never going to be an easy task and emotion normally gets in the way of any sensible decisions – however the favourites to lift the trophy are surely Spain, Brazil and the current champions, Italy. Although we shouldn’t rule out the likes of Germany, Argentina or even those crafty little buggers in orange, the Dutch.

As for England’s chances, well I’d rather not get into that right now – 35 years of crushed dreams and disappointments have left me cold and despondent….. that is of course until the first ball of the tournament is kicked and then it’s ENGERLAND, ENGERLAND, ENGERLAND all the way….

…to the semis!

Capello looks to have us on the right path though and it seems that the press have finally done the decent thing and are letting him get on with his job. Woe betides the poor bugger though if we go out in the first round!

Developers in South Africa are going bonkers ensuring that everything is ready on time and the locals are preparing themselves for the influx of football fans from around the world. Indeed local prostitutes must be rubbing their hands in anticipation but with the rate of HIV and AIDS at an all time high that may be all they end up rubbing.

In preparation for the World Cup, South Africa is hosting the Confederation Cup – seen by many as the test run for next year’s tournament. It will be interesting to see how the county’s infrastructure copes and where, if any, the cracks will appear.