Ficklish Blog

Friday, June 23, 2006


Well now, wasn't that exciting?! I'm enjoying this soccery thing more than I could have imagined. Last night was terrifying and thrilling and I loved every minute.

(Well, except for those minutes that sucked, though they were fun in that perverse kind of way because I could boo until my throat was sore.)

I’d like to begin by thanking the delightful AZ - who, upon hearing of my somewhat pathetic attempt to show my Australian spirit by pinning a pair of socks to the wall behind my desk, promptly sent an excellent flag postcard which has made my little display look eminently more respectable. Thanks, AZ!

It’s very good fun, being here for the World Cup.

So far, I have strategically avoided the Australian pubs in London for the Socceroo games - fearful of the potential for unbearable obnoxiousness that lurks among some of my countrymen. Last night, however, we were faced with a desperate situation - our pub of choice and the three we tried thereafter had inexplicably decided to show the Brazil-Japan game. With some misgivings and as the hour of the game drew nearer, we bit the bullet and ventured into Ozland, also known as Fulham. Thankfully, the pub we found was small and, while full to the brim, our fellow patrons seemed like decent folk. At the very least, they seemed just as nervous as we were and weren’t trying to hide it with loud, brazen ockerness.

The game was fabulous to watch. As I’ve said recently on Grods, my very scientific method of judging the merit of World Cup fixtures to date has been their entertainment factor, and this one, while far too stressful for comfort, has been my favourite so far. I particularly love how a room of strangers can bond in situations like these: hearts in mouths, butt cheeks clenched, we held our collective breath during each tense moment, roared with joy at the moments of triumph and howled in frustration at the missed opportunities and overt demonstrations of referee mistakes and foul play.

The moment I’ll remember best came after a particularly egregious example of yet another Croatian foul ignored by Mr Poll. A desperate, plaintive voice cried out from the back of the room: “You dirty, DIRTY bastard!” and the room exploded in enthusiastic agreement.

As the tension grew, so did the Oz factor, and I didn't mind at all. At one point there may or may not have been a chorus of Waltzing Matilda (no further comment).

Thankfully, justice was served and the result was the right one. Hooray, we’re through to the second round!

It could have been very different, however, and I fear that it would have been all my fault.

I had declared this an Alcohol-Free Week (AFW) to try and mitigate the damage caused by several unrelenting weeks of a close and unproductive relationship with my good friend, Mr Pint Glass. I definitely needed a break, but my timing was exceptionally foolish. In these weeks where one's social life is determined not by the question "what shall we do tonight?" but rather "where are we watching the game?", it was a display of particularly poor judgement.

I was successful for most of the week, thoroughly enjoying the England game fueled only by orange juice and diet coke (not together, obviously) while staunchly resisting the sustained derision from the English folk around me.

But it was never going to work tonight. Most of you are familiar with the jLo Rules of Sport Spectatorship:

1. You have to barrack for where you come from; and
2. If things are going well, keep doing whatever you’re doing and vice versa.

These rules have generally served me well, and I make a point of observing them strictly. The second rule has led to some discomfort in the past - that Australian Open match where I had to watch through the window because every time I entered the room Rafter's serve was broken, any number of Test matches where I wasn't allowed to vacate the couch to visit the bathroom in case a wicket fell.

Really, I should have known better. In the case of the Socceroos World Cup Campaign 2006, it was all about the beer.

I stuck to my mission at first but soon realised that I was breaking my own rule. If we were doing so well while I was busily living a life of regular and excessive drunkenness, then it was all my fault we were 1-0 down while I sat selfishly nursing a soda water.

As soon as I rectified the situation and purchased a pint, we equalised. Hurrah!

I hadn’t learned, however. 'That'll do', I thought, refusing the next round.

Of course, Croatia scored again. I held out, telling myself it was just superstition, that there was no need to further ruin my healthy week , that it would make no difference.

Then I realised I couldn't take the chance. Not wanting to risk a nomination for unAustralian of the Year, I fetched another beer and a goal soon followed.

And all was right with the world.

So let this be a lesson: while being healthy is a noble pursuit, sometimes you have to put your body on the line for your country.

I'm going to defer my next AFW until AFTER the World Cup.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, talk about taking one for the team. Funny to hear you talking about going out for the World Cup, rather than setting the alarm for an ungodly hour to watch the game. Sleep deprivation only adds to the excitement.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But sleep deprivation can work against you. I got up at 5am for the Argentina vs. Mexico match this morning and fell asleep just before the winning goal for Argentina was scored in extra time. What an idiot.

2:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jLo, your Rules of Sports Spectatorship are indeed international. The excitement and enthusiasm in the 'hood was contagious & I decided to do something extraordinary- yes Mazza (that's right, the girl who describes herself as 'not a spectator' in relation to nearly all sports) set her alarm for 4.30am to move from her comfortable bed into a cold sleeping bag in front of the tv. Please note that so far, Australian success in the World Cup has all unfolded while I have slept unawares that Aussie soccer history was being played and made. So as I watched the game begin trying to ignore the reality that the very fact I was watching was indeed a bad omen for the Aussies, we were quickly a goal behind and I felt personally responsible. Luckily for all the soccer fans out there I only made it to 2-1 and fell asleep- stirring an hour later to realise the game was over and I had no idea what the result was. So tonight, I will do my duty as an Australian citizen and committed fan- I’ll sleep through the game.

2:06 PM  
Blogger grundnorm said...

jules, this is adam. this is a weird way to get in touch i know. but please check your old address for an email from me so we can catch up! it is all explained in an email i sent to that address!

12:24 AM  
Blogger Veggie Friendly said...

Ahh Ed. The horror. At least it is not as bad as my friend who went to bed at the 80th minute in the Oz vs. Japan game. Because, you know, what can happen in the final ten minutes.

3:45 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home