Over the past eight years Spain dominated the international football tournaments in which they took part – though they had a premonitory blip in last year’s Confederations Cup (and what a misleading pointer that final turned out to be.)
After the win by Germany in Rio on Sunday we could be in for a longer period of domination than the Spanish enjoyed as the German players are quite young and will only have gained in confidence from their achievement. I don’t know if I can stand that thought, though.
Still, at least it gives Scotland an early opportunity to claim their scalp as the two countries meet on Sep 7th in the first qualifying game for the 2016 European Championships.
For historical reasons Scotland is actually at the top of the unofficial football championship rankings. The September game will give Scotland a chance to reclaim the actual title – if Argentina don’t beat the Germans in their friendly a few days before.
In one of the least unpredictable transfers of this summer Liverpool’s troubled (and troubling – the guy clearly needs help) star striker Luis Suarez has moved to Barcelona, no doubt to the benefit of his bank balance. The only question was over his destination. As he made no secret he wished to play in Spain the other option would have been Real Madrid.
Barcelona’s motto, emblazoned on the seats in their stadium, the Camp Nou, is “més que un club” (more than a club.) Such a claim to moral high ground is somewhat undermined by their acquisition of a serial perpetrator of assaults; assaults which if carried out in any other walk of life might have seen their author up before a magistrate.
Suarez’s gifts as a footballer clearly outweigh any consideration of propriety (or indeed of the player’s inner well-being: he is not going to change his behaviour when it is rewarded like this.)
It seems Barcelona is sólo otro club (just another club) after all.
I’ve just seen from the club website that one of Sons’ most loyal servants, left back Andy Jardine, has died.
He played a total of 364 games for the club in the 1950s and 60s – including 309 times with Tommy Govan as his partner at full back.
The pairing more or less picked itself. I can still hear the Boghead announcer intoning, “Robertson, Govan and Jardine,” or “Crawford, Govan and Jardine,” as the first three names on the team sheet.
Andy’s last appearance for the club was historic in another sense. It was in the 5-1 win over Third Lanark which was that club’s last ever game.
My last memory of Andy is of that Christmas Day game at Love Street, Paisley in 1971 when big Roy McCormack scored the best goal I’ve ever seen by a Sons player. Andy wasn’t playing, he was a spectator – can of beer in hand (yes, you could bring beer into the ground in those days) – dispensing ex-player’s wisdom to his successor at left back that day, Billie Wilkinson. “Nice wee nudge, son. Oh, unlucky. He’s seen it.”
Andy Jardine, long-standing left back. So it goes.
So. There is to be no redemption. Brazil’s historical trauma of the Maracanã in 1950 known as the Maracanazo has been surpassed. Will this one become known as the Mineirãoza?
The country of Brazil has never been involved in a war (except, perhaps, internally.) The national consciousness has been invested in football. The 1950 defeat was akin to a national humiliation. How much worse, then, a 7-1 hammering by a team who had never beaten them in a competitive game? And a first home defeat in competition for 29 years.
It’s been coming, though. They weren’t convincing in the group games, Chile pushed them close in the second round and Colombia didn’t deserve to lose to them either. Both those sides perhaps had too much history with Brazil to overcome. (And the hoo-hah over Neymar’s injury is over-confected. Brazil spent most of the Colombia game kicking “Oor Hamish” – James Rodriguez – all over the park. Given the outcome of the semi-final the real loss was in fact Thiago Silva.) The Germans didn’t care about reputations or history; they did what German teams do.
Brazil’s scapegoat in 1950 (“Look! There’s the man that made all Brazil cry!”) was Moacyr Barbosa. At least this time they can’t blame it on a black goalkeeper.
Make the most of the last few days of this Brazil-hosted World Cup. I doubt there will be another one.
Hills (and bridge over the River Leven) at Kinlochleven:-
From the bridge above I could see a chippy with an Art Deco style frontage. The photo was taken from a distance so it was difficult to tell if the business is still going.
Situated on the outskirts of the village on the southern edge is the War Memorial; a simple Celtic cross on a stepped pyramidal base. Dedicated to the men of Kinlochleven who gave their lives in the Great Wars, 1914-18, 1939-45:-
Chivers, 2008, 142 p. Translated from the French by Sandra Smith.
The good lady noticed this (very) large print book in a local library. As every Némirovsky I have read so far has been excellent I immediately borrowed it. This is a thin volume with very large print but still contains two novellas.
The football legend who has died today had a name that needed no further explanation. He was part of that legendary Real Madrid side that captivated the football followers of Glasgow and Scotland at the European Cup Final of 1960 – played at Hampden Park. di Stéfano scored a hat-trick.
I was too young to be aware of it at the time but the folk memory was promulgated and persists. Such was the effect of that display of what football could be that the names of the forward line still trip off the tongue with no need for googling. Canario, Del Sol, di Stéfano, Puskas and Gento. Mind you, I see film of that game now and think, “Where was the marking?”
One curiosity is that I believe the Eintracht Frankfurt team that formed the opposition that day were all amateurs – as was German football as a whole.
di Stéfano may be unique in having played international football for three different countries, his native Argentina, Colombia, where he played league football for a while, and Spain for whom he was naturalised in 1956. That was the type of scenario that I thought had been resolved by FIFA with its rules on eligibility but in the recent World Cup one of the commentators remarked that Kevin-Prince Boateng who played for Ghana in the tournament had previously played for Germany (but not, it seems, for the senior side.)
The World Cup was one stage that di Stéfano did not grace, for various reasons, but his thirteen national titles (two in Argentina, three in Colombia and no less than eight in Spain) and five European Cups – not to mention his scoring record – speak for themselves.
Alfredo Stéfano di Stéfano Laulhé: 4/7/1926 – 7/7/2014. So it goes.
Fort William’s War Memorial is situated in a green space just off the north end of the High Street.
The reverse of the memorial includes a name for the 1990-91 Gulf War.
A bit further south is a Peace Memorial. “Erected to celebrate the bond of friendship between Dudley, Hiroshima and Fort William and to commemorate the International Peace Cairn on the summit of Ben Nevis raised by the youth of these three communities.”
The other side reads, “A memorial from the youth of Hiroshima in the hope that the experience of 6th August 1945 will strengthen our search for a peaceful world.” January 1st 1968.
Still further south is St Andrew’s Episcopal Church on whose wall a sign says “Commonwealth War Graves here.”
The (one) grave is of Second Lieutenant H M Stapleton, Royal Tank Regiment, 1942.
In the West Highland Museum, off High Street, Fort William – which also has a fine exhibition on the Commandos (whose training ground was in the Lochaber area) along with Jacobite memorabilia – is a memorial mainly to the men of the Fort William Post Office staff who fell in the Great War. The wreath covers the wording for the Second World War.