Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Football Special

This is a one-off. The normal post will follow later . . .

It was a strange experience watching the Real Madrid v Liverpool battle last night. And this was not merely because I’m an Everton supporter and liked to pretend I didn’t care who won, as long as they deserved it.

In a Pontevedra bar dedicated to Real, the only topic of early conversation was whether the referee was blind, biased or bribed. But, as the game wore on, and Liverpool’s superiority born of speed, accuracy and effort became glaringly obvious, the comments turned to ones of respect for Liverpool and utter disdain for their own team. It reminded me of the time, years ago when I knew little Spanish, and an old man in a bar kept telling me how ‘noble’ British teams were. I had no idea then that this is the highest compliment a Spaniard can give. And so I now pay it to the people around me in the bar, who didn’t quite applaud Liverpool off at the end but were nor far from it. At least those who returned for the second half. Similar plaudits must go to the Real supporters who did clap Gerard off the pitch and to Raúl, who ran to shake his hand as he left. Now, that was noble.

On screen, only ten minutes passed before the priority of the commentators became to tell us all about the film that would follow the match. Details of which were then endlessly repeated. And, not long after half-time, they turned to programs on in a week or more time. Again and again. Which says it all, really. Maddening Spain, wonderful Spanish people.

The highlight of the evening for me – ignoring Gerard’s amazing goal - was naturally a picture of the Real supporter defiantly brandishing an Everton scarf. I wonder if he got home.

The low spot? Seeing the brilliant Real keeper, Casillas, conceding four goals and being on the losing side after stopping at least five more. No wonder he departed in tears. Perhaps Real should have fielded a team of eleven goalkeepers.

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