So…if my research is correct, Paul the Octopus was right and predicted that Spain would win the World Cup. For the first time ever.
This is the first time I’ve ever watched a World Cup match, let alone a final, so it was very new to me. I’ve got a son who’s developing an obsession with the game, and we’re on holiday in Spain at the moment, just a few miles up the road from Torrevieja.
Even if you’re a football-ignorant computer geek like me, you can’t ignore the fever that’s gripped Spain in the last few days. Red and yellow flags are everywhere. Hung from balconies, cars and worn on shirts by virtually everybody. Somebody’s been making a small fortune painting Spanish flags on people’s faces.
Even during dinner this evening, we got to watch the full opening ceremony, got to follow the Spanish team from the Da Vinci hotel to the stadium. And there was no question of it, we were all getting behind España. We watched the first half in the television in our apartment, but the lure of a large screen and the atmosphere of watching the match in a bar was too much to resist. We went outside at half time and found a few seats outside a pub and joined in the chanting.
Now, let’s be honest here – in this part of Spain, the ex-pats and British holidaymakers outnumber the actual native Spanish about 5-to-1. Nothing wrong with that – the Brit crowd were enthusiastically in support of the Spaniards and were growing ever more frustrated at the constant failure by either team to actually score a goal!
As a football ignoramus, I found the first half of the match to be quite rough. Particularly the Netherlands team, with their rough tackles and karate kicks to people’s chests. And as one of the pundits remarked, there was no real rhythm to the game, it was interrupted so much by the ref’s whistle. I’ve just heard the first half of the match described as “ill-tempered”.
The second half was every bit as frustrating as the first. The Spanish and Dutch teams held out with a total stalemate until extra (possibly extra, extra) time when Andres Iniesta finally managed to slip a goal past the Netherlands’ goalie. But it was a close run thing – the Dutch team had come within inches of victory several times throughout the match, but were beaten back – sometimes thanks to the skill of the Spanish keeper, often through pure fluke.
As it stands right now, Spain is in full-on celebration mode. We were told in Torrevieja today not to be driving about at night, because the revellers were more than likely to dance on our car bonnet as we drove. The mood is buoyant, and the Spanish and their various visitors are enjoying tonight’s victory – I can hear singing outside my door and the odd battery on a car horn to remind us that tonight’s a momentous occasion – the first time Spain has ever won the World Cup.
Me? I’m just glad that we were here tonight to witness this moment. And the look of triumph on my little boy’s face when he realised we’d backed the winning team. Along with Paul the Octopus, of course.