Three days after the closing ceremony of the 30th Summer Olympic Games, I’m sat here watching a particularly dour game of football, the first one at this flat, if you’re interested. It’s England’s first match since they crashed out of Euro 2012 and I’m struggling to give a toss.
Despite it not being the most exciting of events during the multi-sport festival, I still liked to watch the football tournaments from time to time and, by and large, they were pretty interesting on occasion. Two days prior to the opening ceremony, I was pretty giddy about the chance to watch the majority of fourteen games over 48 hours, yet it merely turned out to be the appetiser for sport’s main course. Still, right now, this isn’t about the variety of other sports in the Games. For once.
Football at the Olympics was an alien affair; families got the chance to see stars of the future in an environment that we should see more of in English professional football. Players were respectful to officials and each other, supporters stood together – the complete opposite of what many were subjected to during last weekend’s Community Shield. Even tonight, a friendly between two of the world’s top teams (according to FIFA’s ranking system) seemed fairly hostile, even during the national anthems. Gone was the Olympic spirit of friendship and attaining the ultimate prize, back was the bloody-mindedness of real football and its fans.
Before the Olympics, I lapped up every minute I could of football, both domestic and international. The Champions League final was a particular highlight, but watching football all day during the Euros quickly began to grate on me. After an entire summer of it, pretty much, we’re now expected to get excited about a whole year of it, courtesy of the Premier League and its associated competitions. Don’t get me wrong, after a fortnight of catching highlights late at night and totting up my fantasy football score, I’ll probably be hooked. For now, though, the prospect of wall-to-wall football news at the expense of Olympic sports fills me with dread.
Back to last night (since I’ve slept on how to finish this, frankly, rubbish blog) and Jermain Defoe scored a screamer to help England win a pointless friendly against Italy. People say it’s sweet revenge for them knocking us out in the quarter-finals but I’d rather it have been the other way round – defeat in a warm-up game before showing the Azzurri a lesson on the world stage. It certainly doesn’t cover up problems up with certain players either, especially the bit-part Defoe who can’t get a game with Tottenham Hotspur. Outside of Wayne Rooney, our striking talent is woefully inefficient and continues to be so; Carroll as a starting selection continues to be baffling, Welbeck has pretty much just been replaced at Manchester United by the signing of Robin Van Persie, Sturridge continues to be inconsistent and the world has moved on from the likes of Crouch and Zamora (hopefully). For some reason, there continues to be hope in the midfield with the return of Frank Lampard and Michael Carrick, with Steven Gerrard, Scott Parker and the distant hope of Jack Wilshere, but can Roy Hodgson get the tactics right to involve the best of the bunch and get them working at the same time? God only knows.
Throughout the UK, Scotland were the only other team to win in their friendly, last night, coming from behind to beat Australia 3-1. I suppose I was most happy with Leeds’ Ross McCormack coming on to bag the third goal, but that’ll probably mean his head may get turned by Premier League managers and he’ll likely end up at Norwich with countryman Snodgrass. And Howson. And Johnson. Northern Ireland drew 3-3 with Finland, despite leading 2-0 for a few short minutes, whilst Chris Coleman got off to a bad home start as Wales lost 2-0 to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Not a top night for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but not a disaster, either. Who really cares, though? It was, effectively, a pre-season friendly. A chance to warm up some youngsters who, in turn, will be warming the benches of both club and country in a week’s time. The real action was two weeks ago, when the likes of Joe Allen, Tom Cleverley and Jack Butland were representing Team GB in their first full tournament (never mind the U-23 tag). The latter two may have gotten their full debuts last night, but they have already felt the buzz of competing for your country on the biggest stage and they could be excused for not feeling the same last night. It’s a shame and I hope they get better with time. After all, a League Two goalkeeper and a Wigan star are exactly what this country needs to move forward.
It’s about time the world went out and played Frisbowl.
There’s probably countless sports that have adopted this name (or maybe not) but a new one was conceived in the park just this Monday. Fresh from slamming into a barrier, ripping off my skin and nearly causing me to throw up (don’t ask), we moved into the park for a spot of gentle Frisbee and/or football fun. In time, this melded together beautifully and a new sport/game/hobby/fad was born.
Take one ordinary football and boot it fairly far down a field, preferably one with no elderly pensioners or barbecues in the way. Then, two or more players take it in turns to throw a Frisbee (other flying disks are available) towards the ball and see how close they can get it to the “jack”. The thrower follows the disk, stands where it eventually landed and throws it back to the other players, who get a chance to do the same. The standing at the marker can be replaced with another Frisbee, if the competitors have more than one. The winner of each set, or game, or frame is the one whose Frisbee landed the closest to the ball. Set your own score limit, but I lost 5-3 with a particularly lame tail-off towards the end.
I’m a sucker for accuracy sports; heck, I’d even like to try some lawn bowls. Not curling, though, I can’t stand on ice and I hate sweeping up. If you happen to have a Frisbee and a ball lying around, try it out! Or you could just use one or the other and play normal games like normal human beings, but that’s just dull.