A fix for the off-season blues

2012-07-03 07:46

When Italian midfielder Thiago Motta’s hamstring popped minutes after he came on in the final of the European championships it was one of those horribly unfair moments that changes the course of a football match.

Yes, Spain were already well ahead, with two goals under their belt without having worked up much of a sweat, but the chance of a spirited Italian fightback was still there.

But, playing a man down against the best national team in the world with a 2-0 losing margin, that was it – game over.

Italy laboured away, but it was strictly one-way traffic, with Spain’s magicians running them ragged before plunging the blade in again – and again.

By the time the ref blew full time it was 4-0. A lesser side would have gone down 10-0. Engerland would have lost 15-0. Italy had been put to the sword and the drunken mob in Xhai-Xhai was an ugly sight.

Blankman, JahNoDead, Shooter and myself were knee deep in empty Guinness cans and broken lukka lukka glasses.

JahNoDead, the kind of guy who takes every liberty possible, had used the excuse of it being one of his several birthdays (see what I mean) to drag a recliner-rocker and a footstool into the pub and set up shop in front of the big screen.

Some nutter with an Alsatian attached to his left wrist was being dragged across the floor after one of the waiters tempted the hound with a chunk of chorizo.

Blankman leaped over the counter to deal with the mind-destroying dirge of U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday on repeat and fell flat on his face.

Management, understandably, had had enough of us and we were swept out, kicking and screaming, along with the cigarette stompies and other detritus of the day. It was what it was.

It had been a long, hard tournament – for the footballers as well as us drinkers. There had been some magnificent moments – Mario Balotelli’s killer goal against Ireland and his brace against Germany; Engerland going home early; Zlatan Ibrahimovich’s sublime strike in Sweden’s quarterfinal loss; Engerland going home early; Christiano Ronaldo’s superb miss against Spain in the semi; and Engerland going home early.

There had been some bad ones, too – the rioting Russians; the boring football dished up by the Greeks; Engerland making it out of the group stages.

But it had been competitive football, wall to wall in the beginning and thinning out as the tournament progressed, at that awful time of the year when it’s off-season around the world.

The wait until the season starts is not that rough from here – it’s only a month – and there’s transfer window-shopping and the odd pre-season game to keep punters going until opening day.

Those may be a laugh. There’s the Red Scum (Man United to the uninitiated) versus AmaZulu (guess who’ll be chanting for Usuthu in the stands) and the Carling Cup, which pits the Mighty Buccaneers against the Family Business.

We’ll also get to see the Champions League qualifiers, with some bizarre clashes such as Linfield vs B36 Torshavn.

It’s going to be okay.

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