Quelle suprise. A blog post on the World Cup…

This is pretty sweet right now – my family are out of the country, and I’m sitting in front of the TV watching England v the USA right now (and am failing to get behind my country of residence, mostly due to ITV’s poor, hamfisted coverage). I have to admit though, it’s great to be in a country that gets excited at World Cup time – flags everywhere, people going around in England shirts etc. – something that was conspicuously absent whilst living in the USA last time round. It’s not that the Americans weren’t interested, it’s just that football is still somewhat of a niche sport, spectator-wise in the USA – thankfully though, the DC area was a pretty decent spot to meet up with other fans to watch games at Irish bars (even if it meant walking into a pub at 8 in the morning to do so). Still, it’s to be somewhere that’s immersed in the whole thing – until England get knocked out of course.

As you might expect, I’m a football nut. So much so, that if I’d not decided to go down the science route, my career choice would have been that of a football journalist – Brian Glanville was always a favourite read of mine, and World Soccer was a must-buy every month. This is the eighth World Cup I’ve watched – 1982 was my first, and thus still have fond memories of that great Brazil side of Socrates and co, and the ill-fated French side that were cheated out of a final appearance by Harald Schumacher’s GBH on Patrick Battison. Still have very pleasant memories of going out to play football with friends straight after and re-enact what we’d just watch – I was always Karl-Heinz Rumminegge for some reason.

But it wasn’t until Euro 88 and watching that glorious Dutch side (and Marco van Basten’s classic in the final) that I became an obsessive – I watched literally ever game I could, and drove my family nuts in the process as I’d taken over the TV completely. Given the opportunity today, I’d do the same – but I fear my wife too much to try.

So what am I looking forward to this time round? Good football, good craic and for Holland to win – the Total Football teams of Cruyff, van Basten and Bergkamp were always a joy to watch but always fell short. Maybe this time round – and they certainly have the midfield and front line to go one step further this time…..

I’m off to Italy for a Herschel meeting tomorrow, so I expect the SPIRE team will make some opportunity to watch games in a very nice social setting. With plenty of nice wine, hopefully.