Travelling tittle-tattle, tall tales and shameless name-dropping by Jon ‘Don’t Call Me’ Norman

About Me

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Return of the cack

Well that didn't quite turn out like I had hoped. Watching England getting battered by the Germans on a muted monitor in the soulless setting of a media centre with Adrian Durham and Romford Pele. Cheers from German hacks and anti-English broadcasters ringing around the hall and in my ears as our defence was breached easier than a Frenchman’s border. Then the friendly laughter from African commentators as I jumped about in impotent fury as the Germans finally got us back for the goal that never was in 1966. It was as bad as it was surreal. And I’ve never sworn quite so much and quite so rudely in front of so many strangers.

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By the time of the third and fourth goals I’d moved to the vast and empty Soccer City Stadium. It was a sorry way for England’s World Cup adventure to come to an end. And as the three of us set up our kit and got ourselves ready for Argentina v Mexico (and what I had optimistically hoped would be a chance to see a match up between England’s quarter-final opponents) I tried to work out what was the more disappointing display, England in the 2010 FIFA World Cup or England’s defence of the 06/07 Ashes? I didn’t bother asking Liam, as he was too busy booting a seat around the press box.

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In the build up to the game I’d been envious of my colleagues who’d been selected to attend and work on the game. England v Germany World Cup encounters don’t come along that often. Some might say, thankfully. But later that night as I watched them all troop back into the Lodge, knackered and scared after a hair raising six hour car journey back from Bloemfontain, I felt a burst of gratitude that I didn’t have their days experience in the memory banks.

It was a flat feeling all round for the next 24 hours. England’s exit meant the same for several members of our party. After three weeks of working, living and going out together and with two weeks left of the tournament it has been tough saying goodbye to those who’ve now left the Lodge and returned to England. Uncertain times all round.

It needed something special to raise spirits and it duly came the following night. I was sent out to produce live commentary of Brazil v Chile and it was more than enough to put a smile on my face and remind me that if I don’t make the most of the last ten days in South Africa I may as well head home and jack it all in.

For unlike England’s torturous approach to playing football this reminded me of watching kids play. Not that they played in parkas with packed lunches in their hands like I used to. Just in the way that actually looked like they were enjoying themselves. Robinho’s goal was a delight to watch and was enough to re-energise me. Maybe now England have gone out we can all sit back and enjoy the rest of the tournament.

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