Yesterday’s climax to several of Europe’s top football leagues was every bit as exciting as any neutral could ever have hoped for. Of course, no-one is completely neutral in these matters: I can’t recall any game where I actually didn’t care at all about who was going to win. After all, we all have our little foibles and favourites and many reasons whey we hate the dirty, scab bastards from Nottingham.
And you can spin it any way you want, but Bill Shankly was right: winning is everything. And thus I know readers who will be happy and readers who won’t be happy this morning.
For me, looking across England, Spain and Italy last night (the leagues I watch) and the bits that I was mildly invested in, I got two out of three at the top (one having been decided long ago), and one of out three at the bottom (from yesterday). Not great, but still better than the one that I was really invested in, which didn’t happen at all.
So now we are about to enter a period of quiet evenings in front of the family instead of the football. Of having to learn and talk about cricket (wut?!?) to distract ourselves, or face up to the crushing reality of South Africa’s economic predicament (I’ll take the cricket, please). Of betting on the likes of FCs Honka and Petrzalka, instead of the Blades and Real Madrid. Of blissfully early nights and lower stress levels.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself. Bring on the 30th July.
It’s Day 700 of South Africa’s “lockdown” (we’re not locked down at all), but upon waking this morning, that landmark (such as it is) was obviously overshadowed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine overnight. It’s an odd thing for them to have done, because they repeatedly assured us that they weren’t going to invade Ukraine, but actually, all along, it seems that they were. Almost like it wasn’t the full truth that we were getting from Vlad and his team.
Like I say… weird. I mean, who knew?
Some scary scenes this morning in Ukraine, and it’s only going to get uglier once the initial aerial onslaught has been completed and the ground-based operation begins.
Thankfully, this is a case of double overshadow though, as I also woke to the memory of Ben Davies scoring a 92nd minute winner in the crunch game against Blackburn Rovers at Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane last night. After suffering the slings and arrows of a red card and then a penalty against us soon after, it was an unlikely victory, but one that I’m more than happy to take. So some small mercies (well, one) as the sun rises over Cape Town this morning. Although while this one is probably less likely to influence global foreign policy and the potential imminent outbreak of World War 3, it was a pretty amazing evening.
And so the march continues onto Millwall (and Kiev) this weekend.
Not for me. I’m giving it another 24 hours before I go plunging headlong back into 5kms (or ultra marathons, as I like to call them). But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been supporting other sporting endeavours. Last night, for example:
And then my favourite of all the Olympics: the Winter ones. I have watched some cross country skiing, some ski jumping, some freestyle skiing and some curling. I can’t wait for the ice hockey and speed skating. So much better than the running and jumping stuff.
Considering how much I watch football, I blog about it very rarely.
This is one of those rare occasions.
We took on Fulham last night. They are top of the table and I didn’t really realise how good they have been until the commentator started throwing stats out left right and centre: Most goals scored of any team in England this season. Most goals scored in the first 15 minutes and most goals scored in the last 15 minutes of games. Most goals scored from set-pieces. Most goals scored by substitutes. Centre forward Aleksandar Mitrovic is top scorer in any of the 4 English leagues. He’s also a bit whiney and divey, but apparently that’s not an thing they officially record.
Every time something happened in the game, there was a stat to say that Fulham were the best at doing it.
Apart from defending against Iliman Ndiaye:
What a win! And to indicate just how unlikely it was, we started the game at 6-1 against for a win.
Which also made it a nice little earner for believers like myself. Senses well and truly filled.
Sidenote: Powered almost entirely by adrenaline, it was also the latest I have stayed up since before Covid: 00:22 for the purists (although it wasn’t like I managed to get much sleep afterwards, either).