Monday, June 14, 2010

Rob Green lights up the bar - Margin

Watching football in a bar at 11:30am raises some questions. For a start, do you meet up with friends for breakfast before the game? We decided not to. But then do you drink throughout the proceedings? Those of you who know me best know there is only one answer to that, though we genuinely kidded ourselves otherwise for a short time.

Colin and I knew just one bar in San Francisco that we could definitely both find, and that was the one we got chatting in a couple of nights earlier. So all was well right?


We met outside the door at 10:30am. Outside the locked door. Foley’s on O’Farrell Street doesn’t open at that early hour and we had to find somewhere else quickly so we had time to settle in and pick our spot.

Fortunately Market Street has a big bright sports bar of the sort we just don’t have in England. There is neon everywhere. There is a big glass front that I fear would be smashed in most English towns. There are booths facing screens in every direction. The wonderfully friendly bar staff were chipper even as they worked an earlier shift than they would normally face. This sports bar knew the drill. It was open early, had garlic fries on the go, and offered us beer as we stepped through the door. We surprised them by ordering tea and orange juice.

I should stress that Colin is Irish and as such a USA fan temporarily. Obviously I see the world differently. But we figured that with no guarantee of a crowd we would at least provide antagonism enough for each other.

We took our seats at a table a few metres from a giant wall mounted screen. The orange juice and tea lasted about ten minutes and we had finished our first pints before England were one-nil up. As I said, the sports bar knew the drill better than us.

As we drank our first pints and watched Steve McManaman and Roberto Martinez talk about the game in store, we were joined by others. Colin’s girlfriend arrived after her short but impressively productive shopping trip. A couple of middle aged women had pulled up chairs alongside us all. And a German chap with a lot of hair had introduced himself and joked that the USA would win this one.

And so to the goal. The passing was excellent, the finish perfect, and around a third of the bar jumped up and cheered. There was noise, excitement, and a lot of England and English shirted strangers congratulating each other as though we’d been friends for years. It was not yet noon but this felt like watching the game at 8pm in a London boozer.

Or at least it would have done, but with England scoring, only a third of the bar erupted. We arrived early so hadn’t realised that it was now definitely standing room only. People stood around the bar watching small screens. More people still stood everywhere else facing all different directions to watch whichever screen was convenient.

And then came Rob Green’s mishap. Now this may have been calamitous for us English. It could have meant going on to lose a game we should have won. It may also be the effective end of his world cup. But it was also manna from heaven in Market Street. The assembled yanks and the handful of Irish taking in the game needed this. And so did us complacent English.

None of them expected to win. None of us expected them to win either; at least not after our opener. But that goal inspired hope. Suddenly every move forward triggered intakes of breath and cheers of “C’mon!”

At the other end there were yelps of “No!” every time England shot. And the other third of us behaved exactly the same in reverse.

The atmosphere grew until the last ten minutes when we all became resigned to the draw in front of us.

And when the game ended every American, local or otherwise, commented that that was the end of Green this world cup.

As far as they were concerned, Green was done for. The British press would tear him apart. There would be no mercy. He would be the scape goat and his career would now suffer.

They were of course all pleased with a draw, and commiserated me despite my sanguine take on the group stage. But all day long they continued to comment on our goalie and how unfair it was that he would be destroyed and hated for that one mistake.

And they were right. This was not a matter of insight but a simple matter of fact to Americans. Football isn’t special or specialist. It is just football and the assumption was that we all knew how such things worked. Especially us English with our horrible press.

Sadly for Rob Green, if they are wrong, it will only be because of timing. Had that been a knock-out game his best next move would be to cancel his ticket home. As it is he might hope that it will be long forgotten as he sits on the bench and lets another keeper try to do better.

Fingers crossed!


guitou said...

is this what Graham Green called the "Human Factor"?
Football is unpredictable enough there was no need to add ida's tricky Ball.

Margin said...

Agreed. Colin, the Irish guy I was watching with, was a keeper with an Irish team back in the day and kept repeating to everyone when the replay showed - "watch the way the ball moves!"
But hey, it is the same ball for everyone and their keeper coped just fine.

guitou said...

The Algerian keeper did drop it too. Let's see how Brazilians drive or control the ball this time.
Margin in the bay Area, San Jose earthquakes has a decent football (soccer) team they may play friendly games at this time of the year.

Margin said...

True. And it will be interesting to count up the ballooned 30 yarders this summer. Might lead some outfield players to complain if it doesn't stay on target.

And sadly the Earthquakes are out of town until July. Spurs have a partnership deal with them too so would have been perfect.

munni said...

It does look extremely bouncy. Jabulani wants to fly.

I've never really understood why there needs to be a special World Cup ball, since they always seem to be universally despised. I mean, I know it's because Fifa needs to make a large profit on half-baked marketing ploys, but couldn't they just use a normal ball and tart it up with a pretty design? Am I missing something?

Margin, you may find this difficult to believe, but US television coverage has improved immeasurably in recent years. In 2006 one of the commentators even referred to David Beckham as Michael Beckham.

mimi said...

I think that all you have said is what we, who were not there, would have thought and understood. However there are a few things, if you are still in the good old US of A you can hold to your bosom and cherish - and maybe share with special American friends. Like the fact that dear old Obama is demonising BP for the oil spill. Well yes, bad BP but bad US for granting the licence to drill, bad US for being TransOceanic and Halliburton for doing the actual work that led to the explosion. BP is catching a lot of shit in their name which should be shared

Greengrass said...

I watched the game at a Stockholm "Irish" pub.
One aspect tickled me: when their side did something exciting, the England fans cheered; the USA fans squealed.
In similar circumstances, Barca fans tend to applaud.

Have you noticed such differences?

offsideinnormandy said...

well, we have a great young keeper, and look where that took us.

Margin, thanks for resurrecting the site just when I don't have time to read...

Nevermind, I'll catch up in July.

offsideinnormandy said...

well, we have a great young keeper, and look where that took us.

Margin, thanks for resurrecting the site just when I don't have time to read...

Nevermind, I'll catch up in July.

mimi said...

Well watch a bit of sport for dog's sake.

Margin said...

Hi guys

There were little differences about how different fans watch games. I'll post my article on the Italy Paraguay game when I get time. (I've just flown back and am terribly jet-lagged)

And as for the TV coverage. I guess there is no reason why their pundits would be any worse than those on English TV.

Margin said...

Oh - and BP got a few mentions while out there. But nothing all that harsh. Most people who mentioned it lumped BP in with the whole oil industry rather than hating one firm for doing what a whole load of others have only avoided by chance.

guitou said...

Obviously and fortunately you didn't watch it on Fox sports Chanel, they are not really good, mainly because Football it's not part of their culture. Otherwise they wouldn't call it Soccer would they?
Interesting to know what do yoof u think of Frisco vs New York,and what a difference 3 hrs of time change can make.

mimi said...

Do you think the footballers take heart from a great win at the Rosebowl today?

Mouth of the Mersey said...

Margin (and others) - lovely to meet you here.

I liked a lot of what I saw on ESPN - Martin Tyler is the best commentator on football in English and I was surprised how good Efan Ekoku was alongside. Martinez and Gullit were good, but I found McManaman and Lalas especially, rather too pleased with themselves.

I've said before and I'll say it again - I don't expect England to win a World Cup in my natural lifetime. The sides of 86 and 90 were much better than sides since and they had far fewer genuine rivals to beat and couldn't.

mimi said...

There might be some Tour stuff here soon - I have written but mostly am singing a lot for Geraint.
Cos this is the first Welsh podium we have ever had.

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