Sunday, July 29, 2012
OLYMPIC FOOTBALL AT HAMPDEN
Michael Kelly , as Celtic fans say, "talks a lot of shite" and the club is miles better without him , though it has to be said his dream was not completely off the mark as we were graced by having a portion of the Olympic Football tournament at Hampden Park.On the first evening we almost re-ignited the longest continuous war in modern history.Having somewhat resolved that before things got nuclear we came to the second day , what could possibly go wrong.
On asking a Group4S official the exact location of the ticket collection point we were greeted by an incredulous look of "whatever possessed you to ask me a technical detailed question like that" , at that moment we knew we were enjoying the Olympic experience , UK style.We left the official , still with a frozen face of confused bafflement permanently etched on his puzzled face , continuing the treasure hunt for an alleged Eldorado located within some oft spoken off but never seen white portacabins said to be somewhere , no one quite knew where, near the ground.
When we finally found them the ticket selling and collection booths were like a trip to the third world with queues of bewildered undirected patrons four wide clamouring to get an audience with a single window slit.The operation was so streamlined each person took about five minutes the process with prospects of more to come later.For some the experience was an emotional roller-coaster ride as they would negotiate two questions , name and address, only to fall at the third hurdle , booking reference number.The Scots within the ticket booths seemed to take a grim satisfaction in sending people "home to think again".Some skittled off meekly holding bits of paper in a sad lament.Others , desolate they would never see an Olympic event for the rest of their earthly life , decided to make a last stand for economic justice , after all they had paid £20 a ticket , in the vain hope that standing on the spot , shouting loudly , refusing to budge may oil the wheels of bureaucracy and gain then a special dispensation.They were sent home with the ultimate weapon of modern day renaissance contract workers , a shrug of the Shudders ( as we say in Glasgow) accompanied by a polite smile just so they would know they have been dealt with a ISO9002 company.
All this exciting action took place from us arriving well before the first installment of a double-header package until half time of the opening match.The last dramatic theatre was a real tear-jerker , just ahead of us the rate of processing a customer was comfortably passing the five minute a patron mark , with a Nigerian breaking the seven minute barrier ,every patron at this stage was being dealt with a booth operator joined by a bemused onlooker , no doubt a newly trained supervisor , continually on the phone to some central helpline pulling melodramatic faces and wiping her brow with a pile of ample non-issued tickets.
At last we got to a Family of Four one ahead of us , a lady and three kids.All they seemed to have in their possession from what i could gather was a scribbled set of numbers on post it note taken down from a facebook message , not only did they have difficulty with the name of the original purchaser but also had a problem with the address and the scribbled number appeared to be wrong.Their appeal to use the latest technology to dig out the proper number from the original email from the android cut no ice with the two person team in the booth who only deal in printed matter.At first the middle-aged boy went round the corner to have a whimpering sulk , shortly after his younger sister went round the corner to console him and bring him back , with things getting no nearer to resolution the sister and brother went round the corner together to bulp and gulp in each others hugs.Then it was the turn of the older brother to get al fresco in the emotions department.The final flourish was the mum doing a howling , gulping and bulping in front of the booth window as the impatient queue behind , having long since ran out of sympathy , wished police would take them away in some corner out of the road.
Alas , i happened to have all my paperwork and credit cards in order , amazingly processed in under three minutes , even then i felt i had left a part of my life and some of my soul in that booth with me.
When we finally got into the ground 54 minutes of the first match had already gone with Morocco 1-up and in control , the Hondurans seemed to be playing like a bunch of women , arguing with each other , trying not to get their gear dirty, hanging about in groups doing something and nothing , given to exuberant affectations of pain and anguish whenever the opportunity arose.All of a sudden they got a goal out of nowhere.
Now it was the turn of the Moroccans to play the role of scorned women.This complete role reversal led to Honduras taking the lead.Thereafter Morocco resorted to horizontal tackles , yielding to a deserved sending off.The Moroccan fans near us were becoming a wee bit hysterical , gesticulating and screaming themselves like shrieking banshees over non-issues.At long last the Moroccan team managed to regain enough composure to get a spectacular equaliser.Both teams them settled for a draw , though Morocco will feel they dropped two points.
We were sitting next to some Japan Fans , the Japanese also had a dedicated end heaving with drums and banners.The Spanish Fans were in small groups dotted around the ground.There were also a lot of Plastic Spaniards with spotty local complections and gingeroid hair as unspanish as you can get wearing Spain strips emblazoned with star names.
The Japanese team showed a characteristic tenacity that was just not quelled within 90 minutes of intensity.The Spanish team were, for the first time in many years , outcrowded and outworked in midfield even with the presence of double ( at club level and International) European Champion Mata.
Japanese Goal is in the vid below:
In the second half a very sorry looking Spain were being hit on the break constantly , failing to keep possession in midfield , and having no wide over-lapping play despite the Hero of the recent Euro 2012 Alba being in the team , Japanese forwards squandered a series of scorable chances with finishing reminding the local crowd of Kenny Miller.The 1-0 final result did not do justice to the Japan performance which showed a team with apparent lesser technical ability , but fortified with belief , hardwork, and a well thought out plan can accomplish the seemingly impossible.