Don’t trust anyone who tells you Christmas is the best time of year. THIS is the best time of year. World Cup time.
Although I guess in years ending in an odd number, festive fun wins out.
So, it starts on Thursday then. A month of football that matters more than it really should.
I take little notice of foreign football in between World Cups and Euro championships but I’ll be hooked on Honduras v Ecuador almost as much as England v Italy.
So why am I here? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for 44 years. But specifically, what am I doing on this page? Well it falls to me to take the mickey out of – sorry I mean to provide sensible anaylsis on – the World Cup on the box; not so much the games, but the commentary, the pictures, the pundits, the penalties.
Talking of spot-kicks, can I depress you? Look at the years in which England have gone out of major championships in shootouts: 1990, 96, 98, 2004, 06, 12. Notice a pattern? Sorry.
I’ve done my homework. But where Adrian Chiles has probably taken 18 months to do his, I’ve taken 18 minutes.
It consisted of studying the Peru players’ profiles in the Wembley programme the other week (then discovering they hadn’t qualified) and looking through the Bone family’s Panini sticker album for funny names, and stumbling upon Ivory Coast keeper Boubacar Barry, who sounds like an extra from one of Disney’s Cars movies.
I was also pleased to find Ghana have a player called John Boye. Will Gabriel Clarke get a post-match interview with him and end it by saying ‘G’night John Boye’. I do hope so.
I need your help and welcome your observations (via the email/Twitter addresses above). There will be honourable mentions in this column for anyone who is first to spot:
* Andy Townsend saying ‘You’re absolutely right Clive.’
* Footage of a Brazilian lady with her national flag painted on both cheeks.
* Footage of a Brazilian lady with the national flag painted on both cheeks of her face.
* The bushiest beard in the group stages.
* The manager or coach who looks most like a Coronation St or EastEnders character.
* A pundit on BBC or ITV who knows a lot about football but can’t speak English very well (Jamie Carragher doesn’t count...)
* The first footage from a Manchester pub during an England showing how the punters reacted to a goal scored/conceded/penalty/win/defeat.
* First mention of former beetrot factory worker Rickie Lambert’s lowest-grade old job (playing for Southampton).
So sit back, enjoy the feast and get spotting. You know you want to.
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