Friday, November 7, 2008

Goran, Stella & Me - Mac Millings

If someone offers me free stuff, I always take it. Sometimes, this clashes with my principles (I really should have refused that all-expenses-paid trip to Alaska to watch Sarah Palin execute East Coast liberals with a hand-sharpened moose antler) and, thus conflicted, I found myself part of the crowd taking in a match at the Stella Artois Championships; a tournament that seemed to think of itself as Wimbledon without the commoners. Still, free tickets. What are you going to do?

Leave, it turns out - watching Some Unknown beat That Other Guy just didn’t appeal. More importantly, this being June 12th, 1992, my freebie love meant I was missing a crucial Euro ’92 encounter, Scotland vs. Holland. While I’m neither Scots nor Dutch, I have ancestry of both kinds (one less in the Scottish camp since the passing of Racist Uncle Des), and it was with a heart angry at the cheapness in my soul that I escaped the heat, to the artificial cool of an adjacent building. Wandering, I came across an open door. The sign “Players Only” deterred; the fact that it was hand-written on a blu-tacked sheet of A4 seemed to say “Only Joking”. I ducked in. And there it was. The Game.

A seat at the back beckoned. I sat, hunched, fearing attention, watching motionless until I felt I was part of the background. There were more people in the room than I’d first realized, and, well, I knew some of them – their faces, at least. A pre-invincibility Sampras. There, all enthusiasm, the raw Ivanisevic. To the left sat that redhead South African, whatshisname; good player, just never good enough to win anything of actual significance. The ginger Tim Henman, if you will. We watched.

Scotland never looked in trouble against the Dutch, who, while still a decent side, didn’t even bother testing a lazy stereotype, forcing the Scottish goalkeeper to make but one save. Then, suddenly, 75 minutes in, Gullit, Rijkaard, Bergkamp, one-nil. I groaned. Loudly. Bugger. It’s over, I thought. Only Goran turned. The jig is up. He looked around, back at me, grinned a sly grin, nodded a conspiratorial nod, and turned back to the game. We watched Scotland lose.

The ginger Tim Henman won at Queen’s that year. I didn’t care. But nine years later, as Goran Ivanisevic served for the Wimbledon title, he cried tears of joy - and I did, too.


Ebren said...

An honourable mention sir. Good effort.

bluedaddy said...

It's a good tale well told mac, but isnt it just a personal memory? As a blog, where do we go with it?

Mind you, Scotland at a major finals. Come to think of it, that is pretty nostalgic.

mac millings said...

thanks both. I agree, bluedaddy - and in fact, it was your comment on this subject over at the Big Blogger blog that made me realise the fatal flaw in my entry (well, yet another fatal flaw).

You're dead on that the point of a blog, or at least a GU blog, is to provoke discussion, and mine (and the finalists', with the possible exception of cjthistle's, didn't do that - maybe that's why he won.

Two things - the 3-finalist format doesn't (as I think you, again, pointed out) lend itself well to discussion below the line. On the other hand, it is a competition, and I'm not sure how better to approach it.

Secondly, the new topic (SPOTY) will be much easier to write about "controversially". But maybe that's too easy. Anyone who could write 400 about 'sporting nostalgia' with both great prose and a sharp argument would have been a deserving winner - and I suppose cjthistle got the closest...but I don't think that anyone of the 3 finalists (or me!) really nailed it.

Now I'm going to sit here and read, and see if anyone else managed it.

Mouth of the Mersey said...

I loved this Mac, just wonderfully told and that I stand alongside you in the hon menshes makes me proud indeed.

It's true that the idea is to provoke discussion, but I think this would along the lines of furtively watching matches or watching matches with famous sports people (a Danny Baker 606 topic that would last for weeks).

In case anyone wants to read my hon mensh, it was one or other of these, editied to 400 words - or Apologies to regulars who will have read them.

mimi said...

I did wonder about reworking some of my nostalgia from last year, but they are all here.

Have written a SPOT!

zeph said...

Ah, I remember this discussion from last time - should a Big Blogger entry be an essay to show off one's ability to write just as well as those pesky journos, or should it be an opinion piece to spark off discussion in a thread which doesn't yet, and might never, exist?

Judging by the comments and votes on the first three, opinion pieces are preferred (as long as they have links):)

Mouth of the Mersey said...

Mimi - I've a feeling I know your choice (well, the sport anyway!)

offsideintahiti said...

Still can't get my head around the concept of a writing "competition". I'm just very happy to be able to enjoy good writing (of which this is, undoubtedly) and then have a chat about it. Some of the pieces are so different from one another that there is no point in trying to rank them anyway.

One small complaint, Mac, your title deceived me into thinking we were finally getting a piece about a kinky threesome here, so I feel badly let down. Now, for next week...

mac millings said...

mouth - thank you, very kind; I won't go further, as I have commented on your work in the appropriate place. Suffice it to say that the reviews were good - anyone who hasn't read Mouth's competition pieces, should.

offside - thank you, too. And sorry. I only had 400 words. There is more. Another time, perhaps.

mimi said...

Enjoyed this, and some of the others so much I'm wondering, on a dark and cold night, if Seani should put a topic of "How reading great pieces stopped me slitting my veins".

Tweet it, digg it