I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday’s game. It was played in an excellent spirit, there was a lot of good football and it ended up with five goals. To top it off, I went home and watched another cracker between Germany and Uruguay on the tattie field aka as Port Elizabeth.
In case you are confused, (and I bet you are) I was referring to my first “live” game of season 2010-11, a friendly between Shildon and Congleton Town. The y had met in the FA Vase in Cheshire last season, and Shildon manager Gary Forrest had invited them up for a warm up game. Problem was, they were a wee bit warmer than Shildon!!
It ended up with a 4-1 win for The Bears after a defensive performance from Shildon that was eerily reminiscent of those blunders in Bloemfontein, what seemed like eons ago. Despite having a No. 10 who looked like a fan playing out his fantasies, Congleton were far superior and the 10 turned out to have a good touch, even though he did display the mobility of Emile Heskey in a frogman’s suit.
After a brisk walk home and a look at the highlights of the Tour de France (great TV and a great advert for the French countryside even though there may be flooding after Mark Cavendish’s tears), I settled down, with a bottle of Co-op Brown Ale to watch the Bronze Medal game.
These are usually forgettable games played out by teams who are desperate to get home and restore normality 9 and conjugality) to their lives. Sometimes they are ok, but this one was more than that and turned out to be a most enjoyable 90 minutes and to be the last glimpse for a while of the outstanding Diego Forlan.
For me, he has been the outstanding player of the tournament using his considerable intelligence to involve his team mates and to show the English media that there is a life outside of the goldfish bowl of the FA Over-hyped Premier League.
It was also a last glimpse of a German team that has been a pleasure to watch and is a testimony to the foresight and planning of the DFB. No absurdly expensive “home of football” for them. Take the Nationalscheft out on the road and spend a lot less than £759m on a proper infrastructure of coaches and academies so that real players can be produced. Their academies have produced Muller, Ozil and Khedira; ours have brought forth Lennon, Walcott and Glenn Johnson. Who are the more rounded footballers?
So to tonight. I am not expecting a 7 goal thriller, as both sides are so well organised that it may be settled by a single goal. Like Paul the Octopus, I am going with Spain, mainly because they have the ability to pass the other side to distraction. It was that ability that did for Germany in the semi and I think it will do the same for Holland.
Van Bommel and De Jong will try to strangle Xavi and the wonderful Iniesta, but I feel that Spain will just keep on passing and will eventually triumph, even though it may take them 120 minutes instead of 90.
Back to normal for us fans as well next week. Instead of discussing the Dutch and Spanish midfields, it’s discussions about who we can unload the “Unwanted Ones” off to, or whether we will sign a new central defender – or Sol Campbell. Bit of a treat on Thursday – Spennymoor v East Stirling. Better than Portugal v Ivory Coast if not quite so exotic.
On a sad note, yesterday’s Northern Echo carried the news of Nigel Herdman’s death. Nigel was a top Sunderland fan who I regularly bumped into at away games, particularly in the North West where he had made his home. His passing at the ridiculously early age of 55 was from cancer. He was a good guy and a great Sunderland man. My thoughts are with his family and close friends.
RIP Nigel and have a look for Steven Wilson and Derek Poskett when you get there. A great red and white Bishop Auckland midfield.