Mr B and I are watching Australia versus Holland while eating our dinner (lightly dusted plaice fillets, since you ask.)
always pride ourselves on taking our meals at the dining room table, rather than on trays on our laps but I have to admit that, because we have a combined living and dining room we are still, to all intents and purposes, eating in front of the television.
But it is the World Cup, Mr B exclaims, it only happens once every four years. The whole world is divided into two camps, those who feel that once every four years is quite enough, thank you – and the rest.
I am fascinated by the 2014 World Cup – but for all the wrong reasons, according to Mr B. First of all, there is that foam with which the referees mark out the line which the players must
stand behind as a free kick is taken. I bet excitement knew no bounds when they were told, at some pre-tournament Referees’ Briefing, that a foam spray can was to be added to their traditional equipment of whistle, watch and yellow and red naughty
boy cards. I can imagine them running around practising their spray technique and possibly having foam fights. Let’s face it, they are in for a stressful four weeks so nobody could blame them for letting off a little steam. Or foam.
I wonder, when they have to resort to the spray can, whether they are ever tempted to finish off the line with a kiss or a smiley face? I know I, for one, would not be able
to resist it. Mr B says this is one reason why it is a good thing I am not a World Cup Referee. It isn’t, by a long way, the only reason.
feature which has drawn my attention is the sheer range of colours in which football boots come these days. It wasn’t like this in the days of Tiger, Roy of the Rovers and My Boy’s favourite comic strip, “Billy’s Boots.” Billy’s
boots were old-style, ankle high boots, sturdy brown and well-worn, having once belonged to an ancient football legend called Dead-Shot Keen. Whenever Our Billy (who stayed twelve years old for, well, simply ever) donned these boots and laced them up,
he would be able to play like good old Dead-Shot. Even if you have never read Billy’s Boots and even if you have absolutely no interest in football whatsoever – you will probably surmise that this meant a Good Day on the Pitch for young Bill.
Have you seen the colours of the boots worn by today’s footballing legends? There are pink ones, orange ones, blue ones, lime green ones. Football boots as a
fashion statement, whatever next? Some footballers seem to wear odd boots for extra effect. Maybe they can’t tell one foot from the other and the different colours are a kind of aide-memoire? Or perhaps they just forgot to check they had the same coloured
boot on each foot before they trotted out onto the pitch?
Which reminds me of a story told me by my dear Dad about the day he played his first ever match for his school, The Davenant, in London’s
“I used to follow our school team to all their matches and hoped one day I would be good enough to play for the school. Our colours were white
shirts with a red diamond shape on the front and back. My dad bought me a second hand pair of football boots and one day I went with the team who were playing Tower Hill school on Tower Hill’s ground.
“Imagine my excitement when the Captain of our team asked me to turn out for them as they were one player short. I felt on top of the world and as I donned my white shirt with the red diamond, I noticed that our
Captain only had ordinary boots so I let him have my right football boot and, although I only kicked with my right foot, I put on the left hand boot. So we both had one ordinary boot and one football boot.
“I played a blinder (so I thought.) The Captain put me at left half back and said: You mark that boy (and pointed him out) and don’t let him touch the ball at all. So I stuck to my opponent like glue and was so
proud after the game when the Captain gave me my football boot back and said: You will be a regular player from now on. What happy days!”
I am proud to
say that my Dad’s wonderful account of a boy’s first football match, bursting with his sheer love of the “Beautiful Game” appears in Colm Kerrigan’s book “Teachers and Football: Schoolboy Association Football in England,
What my Dad would have made of the fluorescent coloured boots hot-footing it around the Brazilian football grounds, I cannot imagine.
As for the foam....