A Personal History of the World Cup: Part Two
Yes, this was the one. The World Cup that New Zealand finally got a crack at. But Spain 82, just like Argentina 78, washed right over me. Well, almost, right over me.
1982 has beome such an iconic phrase in New Zealand football that it is hard to write objectively about it, harder still becuase I was only 6 years old and living in a Rugby world, playing for Papatoetoe RFC, and mad keen on the Blue and White Stripes of Auckland, and the Red, Black and White Stripes of Counties-Manukau- the All-Whites meant nada to me, nor did their Spanish Odyssey. Yet it still managed to permeate just enough to have significant reverberations for me later on.
In my Manurewa schoolyard we played Softball, Rugby (Tackle Rugby, touch was not yet an option), the A-Team and Star Wars. I played Short stop, Full Back, 'Howling Mad' Murdoch and a Stormtooper respectively.
Then one day a large round ball was introduced at the interval. All hell broke loose as us kids tried to play this foreign game, never having seen it. Soccer was such an alien invader-with positions such as Striker and Defender, it really suited the Atari zeitgeist of the early 80's.
So even though the 1982 World Cup did not really register with me, like a low-flying enemy saucer it was at least starting to buzz on my radar.
Two years or so after 1982 I found a cut-up copy of a magazine about the All Whites' exploits, produced by the tobacco company Rothmans (the sponsorship seemed fairly innocuous then, it seems frankly outrageous now.) Reading that magazine I got a sense of that epic road to the finals, which was a great achievement in itself. I also started to understand the true international flavour of Football- that a lad from Manurewa could play in exotic realms like Saudi Arabia or Sevilla, that the whole world would be watching a kid from Miramar.
All the imagery and nouns of 1982 held, and still hold, such a mystique for me; Chinese-Taipai, Kuwait, Van Hattum, Rufer - the utter Magnum PI brashness of Steve Sumner's droopy moustache and his casual aggression in the tackle, the Singaporean keeper's timeless style of a green top and red Adidas trackpants:
The casual, hirsute glamour of this uniquely Kiwi entry point into a forbidden world of handballs and offsides was appealing for a sport curious 8 year old- but it was to be another two years before the first World Cup which registered with me personally was to take place. Still 1982 will always be special to every Kiwi football fan, whether experienced first hand or through the adulterated medium of a second hand Smoker's programme. Whatever way you look at it those were glory days for NZ Football, hopefully to be bettered this coming June.
As an aside I have a tenuous personal connection with the 1982 World Cup in the fact that the artist Joan Miro was commisioned to create a poster for the 1982 World Cup:Now although my son Miro was not named after the artist, rather the synonomous New Zealand native tree, it is a rather nice synchronicity-one which Miro's mum thinks is just a little too coincidental to be a true accident.