Postcards from the World Cup #9: Lessons learned from our cultural experiment
What seems like many moons ago, Xherdan Shaqiri slammed home a hat-trick during Switzerland’s 3-0 romp against Honduras in Group E. Forget Luis Suarez’s toothy celebrations, or the England squad’s one-woman welcoming party on their return home, that solo effort alone was probably the lowest point for England fans already resigned to an early exit from the competition.
“Oh bloody hell,” we thought as one. “We’ve got to play that lot in our opening qualifier for the 2016 European Championships. Away.”
This collective sense of dread shouldn’t be wholly unexpected. England’s performances throughout Brazil 2014, while being underwhelming, were in tune with a competitive psyche where finishing fourth in the Premier League takes precedent over national interest; where safe, mid-table sides seem loath to take a punt on a promising homegrown kids in the development squad. And where the pace of the domestic game is so frantic that whippersnappers such as Jordan Henderson are made to resemble Granddad “Where’s me tea?" Boswell as they hobble around the park.
But fear not. Misery and doom might be inevitable, but if there’s one thing Postcards has learnt from watching fans of other nations as they’ve supped from the poisoned goblet of defeat, it’s how to enjoy yourself while being mugged off by the other lot. So here are a few tips for masochistic fans tuning into ITV’s drab coverage this coming autumn…
Embrace interpretative tin pot of South Korea!
Twinning contemporary art with emotional pain, the South Korean fans made novel use of some unexpected percussion as they absorbed the 4-2 hammering by Algeria from the garden of a New Malden pub. Armed with a drum and what sounded like an upturned casserole dish, one fan spent 90 minutes interpreting the action on display. If ever South Korea attacked, he reacted hyperactively (like midfielder Cha Du Ri in the particularly surreal cleaning ad shown below). During more stressful times, his beats took on a more funeral tone. Pleasantly surreal.
The Iranians have got it right. At the brilliant Beirut Nights in Park Royal, fans simply smoked their way through a so-near-yet-so-annoyingly-far 1-0 defeat to Argentina in the group stages. With a selection of elaborate shisha pipes and a menu boasting 33 different flavours of tobacco (including Cuban Mojito and Pirate’s Cave) you can’t blame them. Imagine the tangy, intoxicating bliss as you exhale your way through yet another misplaced long “pass” from “defender” Phil Jagielka.
Take pride to a new level!
Fair play to the fans of Yoo! Ess! Eh! – they sure know how to cheer on their team. While yelling on their boys during the drama of a 2-1 extra time defeat to Belgium, their fans placed their hands on their hearts for the national anthems, painted star-spangled banners on their foreheads, and donned Stetson hats. Though it does help that they’re a million times better than Roy’s Boys.
Failing that, just don't bother!
For Spain’s final group stage clash against Australia, Postcards visited the Jamon Jamon tapas bar in London’s glamorous “Up West” where the cockneys get their glad rags on for a knees-up. Well, they do if EastEnders' Danny Dyer is to be believed.
Sadly, there was very little spoon-tinkling to be found in this particular Spanish stronghold despite their generous promise of two-for-one tapas. Instead, the staff in this deserted bar handed over the TV controls with the suggestion “you can put on whatever you like.” Quincy it is, then. You’ll be doing the same this autumn…