With, at the time of typing, a mere ninety hours to go until the 2010 World Cup begins in earnest (well, South Africa) there's never been a better time for me to start blathering away about how much I'm looking forward to this summer's soccerball shindig. Non-football fans may wish to look away now - and possibly for the next five weeks or so. I suspect there'll be a lot more of this type of thing to come.
Actually, what am I saying, stick around! For the consistently choice selection of mp3s if nothing else!
I think I've done quite well holding back this long before launching into some of what erstwhile 6-0-6 host David Mellor would have cretinously termed "red hot soccer chat" actually. It's reminding me of the restrain you have to show as a music blogger towards the end of the calendar year, when you're dying to let loose with the Christmas songs but, conscious of the fact that they're not exactly everyone's cup of char, don't want to start posting them too soon for fear of pissing people off. But hopefully four days before the big event is acceptable.
So yes, the thirty-two competing squads will have mostly (if not all) arrived in South Africa by now (probably); the various World Cup shows and podcasts have begun in earnest; I've started counting down the hours rather than days till the big kick off (South Africa v Mexico, 3pm Friday, ITV); my When Saturday Comes World Cup wallchart is firmly in place (albeit, in an act of astonishing rebelliousness on my part, not on the wall at all, but rather the fridge door. Hell yeah. Like some kind of - or actual - maverick wallchart pinner-upperer, I don't play by the rules), and I am ready to go. Or at least ready to go and plonk myself down on the settee and stare at the telly for a month or so straight.
As for who I reckon's going to win the thing, well, Spain and Brazil are the bookmakers' favourites so the sensible thing would be to tip one of those two. But I don't really do sensible, as you know. Besides, I feel there's really only one team I can throw my full weight of support behind at this particular time. In fact, I feel compelled to cheer them on after that Eurovision debacle the other week. They are, of course, the Netherlands!
Oh yes, things are going to be different this time, I can feel it. For one thing, I've done my research this time and, unlike their Eurovision counterparts, the Netherlands football team have actually qualified for the finals, so we're ahead of the game already!
And for another, they have a fine attacking tradition and many technically-gifted and exciting players such as Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart in their current squad. Mind, they also have Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel, a dearth of truly world-class defenders, and a not-so-fine tradition of internecine squabbling within their championship squads; oh, and van Persie and Robben are injured half the time anyway. But I never said they were perfect. Might be worth a punt at 11-1 though.
Anyway, now we've got the World Cup ball rolling, so to speak, here are some songs on a theme. Mostly. I suspect I'm going to run out of actual football-related songs pre-tty bloody quickly.
By the way, in case you were wondering, the accompanying picture at the top of this post comes from Jack Rosenthal's 1972 parks football TV play, Another Sunday and Sweet F.A., which is now, thrillingly, available to buy on DVD. Woo.
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