Is England a surfing nation? Perhaps more than it’s a footballing one! Out at the group stage for the fist time since 1958. England as a football team is a bit like dance culture (we invented both). It peaked in 1990. At Italia ’90 supporting England was electric. Pure magic. The very names make me shiver with emotion. Turin. Sir Bobby Robson (RIP). Gazza. Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma. Waddle. Platty, Lineker. Psycho Pearce… Paul Parker. OK not Paul Parker. After the Germany semifinal I went into my room cried for twenty minutes… and I was 15. Our 1990 World Cup song was recorded with New Order, for fuck’s sake. Since then, despite Euro 96’s brief flirtation with total awesomeness, we’ve been but a memory of a good time now long passed.
England’s spirit surfer is Aritz Aranburu. Low expectations, high huff and puff factor, results to match the expectations: None.
Portugal are another of those great nations (like Italy) of fantastic, cool people who somehow morph into proper cunts when they put on a football shirt. Their star man Ronaldo is only about 50% fit, and being essentially a 1 man team, they’re 100% fucked.
Portugal’s spirit animal is Jadson Andre. A one trick pony of a football team.
The hosts have been pretty underwhelming so far, Brazil are not what they used to be. Brazil of, say 82, would play through you with sheer brilliance. Now they’ll have a moment or two, they’ll create chances and take them, but they won’t pass you off the pitch with flicks and tricks and dribbles and whizzfuckery that you just kind of watch and go ‘holy shit’. Their defence is shit and up front, Fred is worse. (Although he did start the Confederations Cup badly last year and went on to have a blinder). We want Brazil to stay in, because when the host nation goes out, the vibe is like when Kelly Taj Mick Joel Jordy Julian John John lose in the round before the quarters and semis are Bede vs. Hobgood / Kai Otton vs. Alejo Muniz.
Brazil’s spirit surfer is Adriano de Souza of course. Not actually that good at all, at all. But still annoyingly capable of winning the fucker.
Aka crap Germany. A German coach and players with accents suspiciously more Berlin than Boston. What’s good about USA is they are the only team in world morally opposed to/not allowed to dive, feign injury and roll around, which is fairly ironic when you consider Herr Klinsmann’s wretched body of work in that field. (FYI England aren’t ‘above’ cheating, we’re just shit at it). The Germericans are fit, used to the heat (they play in summer… weirdos!) and used to flying 6 hours to play a match or a ‘game’. (Dear America, doctors and nurses is a game, hide and seek is a game, Monopoly is a game. Two teams of 11 kicking a ball over 90 minutes is a ‘match’). I’ve found myself wanting both USA and Australia to win matches this world cup, which is a rare, rare position to be in. Whatever happens, the good thing about USA ‘soccer’ it that it poses no actual threat to your being. Even if they won it (ha!), they can never really have the moral high ground, they can never have your soul. It’s like ‘Yeah, yeah. But you’re America’.
Spirit surfer is Nat Young. Partly coz he looks like a German, and partly coz he’s useful, if not goosepimplingly brilliant.
Is Argentina a surfing nation? Not really, but whatever.
In the past, Argentina, to me at least, was 11 really detestable humans in striped shirts. Batistuta’s diving and hair? Maradona’s poison dwarf coke snarl into the camera/’hand of God’ at the Azteca? Simeone’s reaction to Beckham in 98? What’s not to hate? I remember tending to our Mexico 86 Panini albums with my brother and beholding a dude called Oscar Ruggeri’s 2cm x 3cm mugshot, and thinking the 10 and 12 year old’s equivalent of ‘He looks like a proper cunt’, which is of course, ‘He looks like a proper cunt’.
These days though, that’s all kinda changed. They’re hardly hatable at all. Messi is pretty much impossible to hate, unless you’re the Spanish tax man.
Surfer: Hmmmmmm. Really really hard coz of all the emotional baggage I carry but I’ll say Kelly Slater. I can’t say someone I really like, so I’ll say someone really good.