World Cup Soapbox: withdrawal symptoms or back to a normal life?


… in which Pete Sixsmith fills a World Cup gap by going to the circus before offering his closing stage predictions (for the football, not the circus); thus Pete laments the likely end of the road for Paraguay, sees Ghana proceeding to the semis and names the trophy winners …

After coming through two scary days without football. I need my fix today. Like Renton in Trainspotting, I will have my perfect day in front of the screen tonight, taking an interest in Holland v Brazil and roaring out encouragement for Big John and the Black Stars tonight.

Read moreWorld Cup Soapbox: withdrawal symptoms or back to a normal life?

(we …) just like watching Brazil

brazil11Image: Thomás

When the odds were checked a minute ago, Brazil were still the bookies’ favourites, marginally ahead of Spain, to win South Africa 2010. We could even, at a pinch, have an all-South American final four; that would take a mighty performance from Our Lads against the Spanish. Jeremy Robson takes a cool-headed look at the past and explains, in this discussion of the importance of geography, how that would buck the World Cup trend …

When the World Cup comes round every four years, there’s one historical fact that is always trotted out in the build up to the tournament. Namely, that the winner of the competition when it’s held in Europe has nearly always been European, and conversely when it’s held in South America the winner has always been a nation from that Continent.

Read more(we …) just like watching Brazil

Consider Sunderland’s season ahead – and meet Rapidgamer’s World Cup girls


A few of the happiest photos from South Africa 2010 have been the product of Radidgamer‘s seemingly one-track mind. All quarter finalist pictures here, with the exception of Stig Nygaard‘s woman of Ghana, are his work …

If you happen to be English, French, Italian or Portuguese, and like football, life could seem a little grim just now.

Read moreConsider Sunderland’s season ahead – and meet Rapidgamer’s World Cup girls

Sod’s law … but vamos Paraguay all the same, like

paragirl2Image: Rapidgamer

JOYOUS UPDATE from Le Cafe Marly, opposite the Pyramid at the Louvre, where I followed BBC coverage of the penalty shootout. Ha’way Paraguay – even if Maud, the Spanish waitress (really a student at the swish Science-Po happening to be doing a bit of waitressing), thinks they’ll be a pushover in the next round. My thanks to Peter Allen, who texted the Spain v Portugal score to my night train .

Sod’s law dictates that at kickoff time I’ll be inside the Louvre interviewing people about a forthcoming exhibition called Routes d’Arabie. I’d rather be watching Paraguay v Japan.

Read moreSod’s law … but vamos Paraguay all the same, like

Vamos Paraguay – una vez más

paragirlsImage: Rapidgamer

Rob Hutchison gave us a juicy flavour of the tale of how a few stray Sunderland fans met for a highly partisan evening for Paraguay v Italy, our boys in red and white stripes putting in a show of honest endeavour to snatch an unexpected draw. It wouldn’t be right to let the occasion pass without the main course, served up by Clive Stevenson, who explains the widespread Vamos Paraguay phenomenon among SAFC fans and reveals more of a memorable night out (and its sequel) …

See also: Ha’way Paraguay, Vamos Sunderland

the story started a bit before that Rob, and I wish I could use the old Hot Chocolate lyric It started with a kiss

… but I’m afraid it started with a deep sense of betrayal and rejection that came with the news that all of us expected, that the striker who scored 24 goals last season, only two behind the bizarre result of an experiment to clone a bulldog with a can of Campbell’s condensed vegetable soup and almost two dozen ahead of a lump of wood, was left out of the England squad.

Read moreVamos Paraguay – una vez más

World Cup: ha’way Paraguay, vamos Sunderland

ha'way paraguay

From our own correspondent in a corner of London that is forever Paraguay. A little later than expected, Rob Hutchison describes his part of the Ha’way Paraguay evening organised by a fellow subscriber to the Black Cats list, Clive Stevenson …

Nueva Costa Dorada, Monday night . . .

Met up with Clive and his missus in the restaurant along with Ian Mole who was writing an article for A Love Supreme* on the proceedings.

Cracking table secured near the big screen, the bar was mostly occupied by Paraguay fans, many of whom were decked out in their colours.

You could order tapas by the metre (I kid you not) so we called for two metres between the five of us and they were brought out on what looked like a long toilet door covered with a dozen splendid dishes.

San Miguel washed it down nicely and by the time the game kicked off there was a grand atmosphere. Footballing wise it was very much like watching Sunderland . . . . a goal against the run of play and the place went up, although what the locals made of our shouts of “f**king ha’way lads”, I not quite sure.

Da Silva looked solid throughout although the Italian equaliser surprised no one, even if the cross would have been “an easy one for Norman”.

Riveros looked to have gone awol all night and appeared to hardly get a kick apart from a crunching challenge on some rolly-about Italian early doors. Draw was probably a fair result and everyone seemed happy at close of play.

Like watching Sunderland the expectation was there, only for defeat to be almost snatched from the jaws of victory.
A film crew were filming in the bar and collared us wondering what the hell were doing there, so after we explained they decided as they were from the UK 2018 Back the Bid Team, it would be an excellent idea to interview each of us on camera so be warned our ugly mugs may pop up in very unexpected places any time soon.

We all managed to get a flavour of anti Mag commentary into our 90 second slot, with Clive dominating his clip praising Sir Niall and the Sunderland bid to the rafters, and I chipped in with an explanation of how wonderful the World Cup would be if played in the UK – provided they stayed away from the land of the great unwashed.

A blogger blogging the World Cup (what else would he do?) was also there anhere . . . d he too picked up our angle. We fed him a few titbits for his article – complete with the gruesome pic you can see here.

A great night all round, the locals made us all feel very welcome and Paraguay are defo our preferred second team for 2010.

See also:

* Paraguay – Sunderland lads make their mark (A Love Supreme)

* South Africa 2010 viewed from London bars: My World Cup Overfloweth