Sunday, March 28, 2010
The Season is on the Line
My lower grade club team, the Salmon, had their last hit out before the season yesterday- a meandering 5 nil loss to a very handy Marist side 4 divisions above us.
...13 orange shirts a-swaying in the breeze....
There is nothing like playing football in a World Cup year.
Thankfully the Southern hemisphere winter coincides with the quadrennial June Soccernalia. As our club football calender reaches its climax the prematch talk won't be so much about whether Island Bay shipped three goals against Stop Out, nor who the golden boot over at Miramar Rangers will be, rather all the sideline natter will be about the ins and outs of Group F, the latest great African hope, the bizarre refereeing decisions and even more bizarre goal celebrations. For two months every four years us plodders and hackers can dare to dream... Ah it makes you feel part of a global mockery all over again. Last World Cup a shiftworking team mate decided to video (remember video!) all the games and watch them at a more convenient time - convenient for him perhaps, he made us promise schtum for the good part of a month, banned from mentioning Ballack and Lahm, verbotten from discussing Zidane and Materazzi, we finally gave up, making him a social pariah, left out of our World Cup bubble.
It will be great to have our own team to support for a change, but through decades of habit I'll still be rooting for pitiful England. As for the All Whites a realistic goal will be a point from pool play and perhaps some stand out moments like having Italy on the ropes for the first half, before the Azurri bring on Pirlo et al to settle the score, or a Fallon header which deceives the Paraguayan Goalkeeper, and the bookies, if only for a second. Bereft of real world-class talent and lacking experience the All Whites will have to work hard and rely on a strong team culture to make an impact. Unlike 1982 when many of the New Zealanders reported being star struck I believe the 2010 All Whites know that despite the odds they are not merely there to make up the numbers, but to compete across all parts of the paddock, from Paston to Smeltz.
For NZ Football the Season really is on the line; despite a bumper year of successes the nation's arm chair critics will make their minds up based on Herbert's Jabulani jaunt this coming Northern Summer. Herbert has a point to prove, and surely a point will prove it.