For those caught in "football fever's" Cholora-esque grip we are only 48 hours in and already faced with the dawning realisation that football is in all honesty, pretty catastrophically boring. We have surfed euphorically on a tidal wave of hype and hyperbole only to find ourselves washed up on an island of football, soggy and underwhelmed.
The truth being that there really is only so much football one can watch without it becoming soul-destroyingly dull. This figure is approximately 90 minutes. A figure that by some miraculous fluke beyond comprehension is exactly how long a game of football is. I suggest this is why the game became so succesful in the first place. However we now find ourselves unfortunately buried under the weight of 270+ minutes a day of live football, more than any man, woman or beast should think of taking on. And this isn't even the end of it. To this already clinically obese figure you can add:
30 minutes a day of footage of Gary Lineker scoring from five yards before flashing back to his smug yet understated eyebrow in the studio
20 minutes of Micheal Owen running in slow motion
and at least 40 minutes of footage ransacked from the Match of the Day vaults of foreign Premiership players scoring for their English clubs, footage that actually anyone who is interested enough to tune in an hour before kick off in a non-England game to see previous goals scored by obscure foreign nationals will have already watched. At least twice.
Across the country by around the 2nd minute of the 2nd game of the tournament an awkward fatigue had set in. Like an angry fart in a busy lift, no one wants to mention quite how bored they are. We sit blankly wondering if the £250,000 is still up for grabs on Deal or No Deal and hoping one of the South American players does a clever trick. And then the realisation hits. This is all the World Cup is. All that waiting and that excitement and its just 7 weeks of a passably interesting profesional sport. Why didn't anyone bleeding tell me the World Cup was just football?
And it is precisely this reason why commentators are so important during a World Cup. It is only their staggering ineptitude that makes watching anything after day one worthwhile. This is their Raison D'Etre, their finely tuned shitness is the only thing standing between us and Noel Edmonds.
Thus it was with joy that I tuned into a 0-0 draw between Sweden and Trinidad and Tobago (that's not a three way match, Trinidad and Tobago play together to better their chances, like Russia and France before Communism, or the Moors murderers). Though my eyes may have glazed lazily over by about the time the anthems finished I listened with glee as the simile-laden commentator vomited glorious awful on cue, pulling out every Caribean racial stereotype he could muster, even imagining happily that the half time teamtalk would probably consist of the coach telling them all just to "chill". At one point I am convinced Gareth Southgate manfully wrestled him from the microphone just as he was about to launch into "Dem Bois be playin wid sum silkly skills mon" in a deep Rastafarian baritone.
I have a theory that it is the cruelly ironic juxtaposition of 22 such skillful individuals playing and the bumbling calamity that talks over the top of them that makes football watchable for anyone with a reading age of above 7, which co-incidentally rules out the entire ITV discussion panel. Commentators are the lift raft that keeps us from drowning in the sickly syrup of endorsements, hair gel and boredom that constitute the rest of the world's greatest sporting occasion. So next time John Motson is struggling over the 19 syllables that consitute the Serbian reserve goalkeeper, smile and thank him for easing us gently through the long hard weeks ahead.
Things to look out for:
- An ITV Commentator appearing a little too tickled by the thought of NewMiddlesboroughManagerGareth Southgate (Now his official name) being sent to FA prison for questionning a refereeing decision.
- Ian Wright's "expert opinion" consisting of nothing more than a translation into idiot of everything Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer just said.
- An advert in the break that isn't limply related to the World Cup, the commercial equivalent of the one guy whose phone was off when the text went round that it was a costume party.