Good game, game of two halves

The European football championships are allegedly being held in France at the moment. I say allegedly because of course my awareness of football fixtures is, shall we say, underdeveloped.
I am vaguely aware of it, from subconsciously taking it in as background noise. I am aware that England and Russia fans have been disgracing themselves, and that in some perverted way England’s results in the opening round could have some impact on the referendum to leave the EU next week. I refuse to believe that however as I trust that people are more evolved than that.

I also know that Irish fans have been having loads of craic and all the bants, and have been generally very well behaved (although the sight of the Irish and Swedish fans singing ‘Dancing Queen’ after a match was both distressing and upsetting. Is nothing sacred anymore? They should show a little more respect. Blasphemy is a terrible, terrible thing. I felt like writing a strongly worded letter of complaint to the Daily Mail (or the Daily Heil as I like to call it), but decided to let it go.  Just this once mind. And if they even THINK of reinterpreting the Great Dolly Songbook, then harsh words will most certainly be had.)

The reason I know about the Irish fans is because it is all over my Facebook page. I suppose it’s goodnatured and harmless really, but for some reason the sight of boozed up football fans makes me slightly apprehensive. Just a touch queasy. That good humour can turn very quickly. I don’t expect it will in this instance however.

I am probably going to be excommunicated from the church of football punditry for my next comment. However I suspect that the reason for the Irish good humour is that we feel lucky to have qualified and no-one expects us to actually do well – and that progression to the next round would be miraculous. With the weight of low expectation comes little responsibility, so a nil-all draw – that most spirit crushingly dull ordeal – becomes a totem of national pride and joy – when in actual fact it’s merely as dull as dishwater. And then they go out on the street and disrespect ABBA with cheerful good will.

And it’s also a means of throwing a subtly shady side-eye at our neighbours to the east in England. An Ireland versus England game, is that most serious and essential of matches. Whenever such an event occurs, it becomes a symbolic means of avenging all the injustices done down through the centuries and is a matter of grave solemnity. My opinion – it’s just a game where men who can run fast chase a ball – is never voiced at this point. I don’t want to be extradited back to Holland for crimes against national pride now, do I?

With the English fans misbehaving, Ireland can smile proudly (and pettily) and give 0urselves a pat on the back.

Perhaps I am over-analyzing.

Apparently Ireland lost to Belgium today. And the last game of the first round is on Wednesday against Italy. I believe that Italy are meant to be good. I don’t know why I know this, but I do. I suspect Ireland’s adventures in football may be over by this time next week.

Then again it’s a game of two halves. And at the end of  the day only one team can win. A lot of opportunities will have been missed, and unless that ball can be placed in the back of the net, the points will be lost. The pitch is a leveler, and no game can be taken for granted.





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