In case you are not aware, the World Cup starts this week. For me this poses the usual four-yearly dilemma: just how involved do I want to / care to /feel obliged to be?
Back in 1990, I made the decision that if I couldn’t beat ‘em, I would join ‘em. In my defence (that’s a good, footballing term, isn’t it?) I was outnumbered two
to one in the household at the time, all three Darling Daughters having departed for University or the World of Work. Left alone with Mr B and My Boy, and the prospect of four interminable weeks of football, I took a totally strategic decision and created
my very own World Cup Heroes Board and, along with it, my very own approach to World Cup fever.
I kid you not, the men in my life almost left home. They
were that close to renouncing football altogether and taking up embroidery or Still Life art. Every match and I was there, in front of the box, commentating. I knew all the players, where they came from, and the state of their hair-cuts. Yes, you heard me
right, to find a place on my Heroes Board, a World Cup footballer did not necessarily need to carry out any specific deeds of heroism, either on or off the pitch. Bravery, team spirit, personality, hair cut, all sorts of things marked out a hero as far as
the Heroes Board was concerned. What is more – and neither Mr B nor our son ever really understood this - just because someone played for Tottenham Hotspur did not automatically make them a hero..........
To explain, the Heroes Board was a large piece of reinforced cardboard on which I pasted cuttings from the daily newspapers to illustrate the latest act of heroism. Heroes did not have to be English either: for example, back
in 1990, German captain Mattheus was a hero in my eyes. While the whole German team was celebrating victory over us, Mattheus' first thought was to put his arm round the poor guy who missed the goal in the penalty shoot-out. Of such are heroes made.......Mr
B, of course, was not inclined to agree, given that we were out of the Cup once again, thanks to Mattheus and his Merry Men.
Four years ago I recreated the Heroes
Board – but on-line. Or rather, My Boy created a Facebook page entitled “Jaqui Ball’s 2010 South Africa World Cup Heroes Board.” You can still find it if you search hard enough (always supposing you care that much.) It would be good
to be able to say that it took off in a big way but to be honest most of the postings were by members of my family. What is more, I appear to have been completely fixated by the performance of Paraguay. Here are just a few entries, by way of illustration:
June 15 2010: Well done to Paraguay (my team in our World Cup Draw at work, don't you know) for keeping the reigning champions to a draw - and they could even have won. Unfortunately
they cannot be awarded hero status - have you SEEN their strip? They look like eleven circus tents running around the pitch. Poor things.......
June 20 2010: The Paraguay team were obviously upset
not to be granted hero status on this Board - not only are they a goal up against Slovakia but they have swopped their stripey socks for plain blue ones, so looking marginally less like circus tents. You could say they're playing their socks off.....
June 29 2010: Hurrah for Paraguay! Last eight for the first time in their history - despite their stripey socks!!! Heroes, all!
July 3 2010: Paraguay to win! And they all win hero status anyway for their passionate rendition of their National Anthem! The best yet! And they are playing in their stripey socks - truly heroic, given the rest of their strip!
July 3 2010: Brave, battling, Paraguay! Defeated, but still my heroes! (And it's MY Heroes Board so nobody can argue!)
is more – much more – in a similar vein.
What I have to decide over the next three days before the tournament begins is whether it’s worth all
the time, effort - and the aggravation I will doubtless experience from Mr B - to establish a 2014 Brazil World Cup Heroes Board.
Is Paraguay playing? I need