Thursday, 24 June 2010

World Cup Fever

WHEN I saw a big package lying in the middle of the living room in a friend’s house, I suspected this was a bad case of World Cup fever.

I guessed it to be a widescreen TV. All this while, the family had been content with a second hand model, with grainy visuals. On certain days, it only served as a radio as there was only audio, no visual.

But World Cup 2010 changed all that — a new 46-inch HD TV dominated the living room.

Our family life, save for the the boys’ fascination with the clubs of their choice, had so far been untouched by the World Cup. The eldest, an Arsenal fan and on holiday in Portugal, had sms-ed to say he hadn’t bothered to watch England’s dismal game with USA. As Robert Green watched the ball literally slip from his grasp into the net, our youngest (a Barcelona fan) was working in the kitchen of a friend’s restaurant, earning money for his tuition fees.

This lack of interest was perhaps due to England’s continuous failure to bring the cup back.

All around us, St George flags waved from rooftops, car tops and tow trucks, and also adorned the faces of fanatic fans singing Engerland, on their way to pubs and restaurants to watch the game. An hour before kickoff time, as we made our way to our weekly religious class, the road was eerily quiet and empty.

We were non-committal about the whole thing — I couldn’t even name one player and was surprised to learn that England had a new captain, whose face crumpled as Green’s blunder allowed the equaliser with USA.

The husband, I must admit, had improved dramatically his knowledge about football and footballers but not enough to make me worry about becomign a World Cup widow. One year, when France was hosting the World Cup, he was in Paris and he must have been the only one trying to get out of the city when most people would have killed just to be there.

Another World Cup year, we took a visiting cousin on a tour of London, which seemed extraordinarily quiet. We even apologised for the lack of life in the city. But our cousin, on his first visit here, didn’t seem too keen on the tour, looking a tad restless as we showed him the historic sites. Finally, he found the courage to ask whether we could perhaps go home as he wanted to watch the World Cup final on TV.

“How could anyone travel all the way here and just want to watch TV?” was the quizzical look on my husband’s face.

Anyway, on the day England met USA last week, we were all assembled in the friend’s living room with the new widescreen TV properly installed.

Kick-off was 1930 hours. So was the scheduled weekly religious class. While waiting for the young ustaz and some other members of our small congregation, we played some trivia game as the TV showed ads and promos. So, the last time England won the World Cup was in 1966, denying Germany the cup by two goals! A friend wearing an England jacket, proudly pointed to the one star above the lions, which meant one World Cup cup so far. When USA met England in 1950, England was defeated 1-0. So what are the chances for England this year?

The late arrival of our ustaz meant that we saw the kick-off on the widescreen, beamed all the way from South Africa. The field looked so green, the roar of the crowd seemed to echo forever in your ears and suddenly, the game was interrupted by an advertisement. How strange, even for someone who had never followed football on screen. The husband, sitting right in front of the screen, was woken up from his slumber by chorus of protests.

When we were brought back to the match, England had already scored and we had missed the moment. In fact, everyone watching the game on TV missed it and no matter how many times it was repeated, in slow motion and from all angles, that brief interruption had spoilt it for us.

“But England always started well only to lose in the last minute”, quipped a friend, watching the door for the appearance of the ustaz. And true enough, when the ustaz finally made his appearance, we saw Green diving for the ball, grappling with it and the torturous moment when the ball slipped from his hands into the net.

There was a heart-rending groan from the apartment across the street as we switched off the new widescreen TV and turned our attention to ustaz.

The St George was still flying proudly from rooftops and car tops as we drove back that night along empty motorways. No celebrations on the streets, save for some drunkards, their faces depicting a crumpled St George, making their own merriment outside empty pubs.

We survived the England match that night. For us , it was an equaliser as well: One to World Cup, one to ustaz.

This column was based on England's first game against USA and was published in the NST on 22nd June 2010.


rohaizahabas said...

kak teh
..saya dan Aziz pun pilih England walau pun kami tau pasukan England tak pernah masuk semi pun...
Tahun ni kami tak kisah..mana mana pun ok...France pun dah lingkup malam tak kisah lah sapa sapa yang juara...Saya pilih Ivory Coast sebab ada Drogba tapi nampak nya pasukan tu kelam apa apa pun ok lah...

Lupa nak tanya..kak teh sihat kaa

Kak Teh said...

salam ezza, kak teh ni tak begitu minat bola, tapi semalam tengok juga england menang.
Kak teh ni, kalau summer tak begitu sehat..tiap2 tahun macam tu. Ada alahan pollen..! dan sibuk juga sebab tu tak boleh nak merayap sana sini di dunia siber ni. Sekali sekal bolehlah jenguk.

selamat menyambut menantu!

Wan Sharif said...

Salam Kak Teh,
Macam selalu tak harap sangat kat team England. Kalau England nak masuk final atau nak menang.. kena minta referee "redcard"kan one player from the opposing team he..he

Kak Teh said...

Wan Sharif, the england team ni mana nak kuat kalau tak ada outside players. Rooney pun nampak tak bersemangat dah. Tengok next sunday apa nak jadi bila berdepan dengan Germany, but i think their fate is sealed.

Pi Bani said...

I malas nak watch all the live telecasts on TV. Lebih baik tidur. Tapi follow jugaklah the results the next morning. And as always, I memang suka every time the pasukan2 kerdil beat the so-called giants...

Next match: Hitler vs Churchill

Tommy Yewfigure said...

'Alo, 'alo Zah, how's the going?

World Cup Fever..hehehe. The word out of Engerland is that it's shaping more like World War 2; The French gone home early, The Yanks arrived late, The Aussies got a dignified exit & England is left alone to face the Jerries :)))

My prediction; The Dutch will be the surprise package!!


Wan Nordin Wan Hussin said...

Oh No Kak Teh, don't say that. Yesteray I attended an international conference in Birmingham. The keynote was slotted at the very time England was playing Slovenia. The videoman interrupted the proceeding to announce "England is leading 1-0". See you and AG this Sat, insyaAllah.

ilene said...

hahaha...the World Cup Fever! Thanks to England's scoring, many of us lost our bets! Unexpectedly indeed!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty KT,
While you were gone, I have taken over the blog from Angelina and all the postings, so far, have all been connected to World Cup. Pathetic? I know....but I'm a boy. har har har *evil laughs*


Sitie BUm BUm said...

bola..bola..bola.. =p

Fauziah Ismail said...

Salam Kak Teh
The fever is on at the office.
Harian Metro started it, followed by BH. Now, we've been told to decorate the NST office with World Cup colours.
There's a competition too.

Mama Huptihup said...

odin dgn emil's fav song now bolaaaaa, bola, bola, bolaaaaaa, bolaa, bolaaa....ikut maklang dgn makcik depa tgk bola haha

Nurie said...

Kak teh,
My family and I in saudi ni, sepanjang world cup had to schedule buying groceries, dinner outings and shopping (which is like non existence now)according to the world cup matches!

DrSam said...

Salam Kak Teh. Glad to see you are back here in the blogosphere. I hope everything fare well for both you and AG.

Since that fateful Brazilian defeat in 1982, I hardly watched any of the live world cup game anymore. See how heartbroken I was...:) so in order not to experience the same predicament and the prospect of my wife becoming a world cup widow, I just refer to my young prodigy for the update.

Royalshoppingarcade said...

i am a world cup widow.but am happy coz while hubby watches wc,he keeps his score with me by folding the mountain of laundry.sejuk hati bini.hahahhahahaha...hope your hay fever this time around isn;t as bad as b4.take care!