Baha'i News -- WHEN ENGLAND BEAT ARGENTINA I WAS...
ON F365 RIGHT NOW :
Monday June 10 2002
WHEN ENGLAND BEAT ARGENTINA I WAS...
'In the pub' is the answer from most lucky folk - but other people were on trains trying to get to Transylvania (or
Peterborough), on a ship in the Gulf Of Mexico or surrounded by Germans.
Read the first batch of tales and then send yours to firstname.lastname@example.org
...Trying To Get To Transylvania
I had agreed to be a guest at the 'First International
Transylvanian Film Festival' long before the England games were scheduled. Then I find out I have to travel on the same
day as the Argentina game. Then I find out my eight-hour train from Bucharest leaves on the stroke of half time.
The first half is spent in a packed bar at Bucharest Gare du Nord, watching the game with 200 Romanians and downing
Carlsberg at 25p a pint.
Pretty soon everyone realises I'm English - something to do with the England shirt and
scarf - and are fascinated at having a real live English fan watching the game with them. For my part, at 25p a pint I can
afford to splash out on a massive round of drinks to get everyone cheering every time Beckham or Owen touch the ball.
The penalty goes in, the bar goes wild. And I have to run to catch my train, ignoring well-oiled protests of the
crowd who wonder where I will be for the Nigeria game.
The only person I know watching the game in this country is my French colleague, who sensibly went to Transylvania the
day before. I have to agree to cheer for France against Denmark on Tuesday in return for a second half commentary by mobile
phone that drops every time my train goes through a tunnel.
I am pacing up and down the train, screaming into my phone, cheering, pleading, singing. The whistle finally blows and a
slow train to Translyvania is amazed at a red-faced Englishman ecstatically singing 'Football's coming home' at
the top of his voice.
PS - Transylvanian girls are great.
...On A Seismic Survey Ship In The Gulf Of Mexico
I didn't get to see any of the game and
had to make do with watching intermittent updates on the internet as our satellite link kept dropping out. The link
eventually gave up after 87 minutes and didn't come back for a few hours leaving me waiting agonisingly to find out the
To make matters worse, the crew is a mixture of Swedes, Germans and Americans (who are convinced they are going to win
the World Cup after beating Portugal!).
...In A Bar In Madrid, Spain
Four of us walked in to be greeted by a few hundred Argentina
fans - a sea of blue and white. After a few nervous minutes they appeared to be OK, and by the end they were good
sports and gracious in defeat (unlike their team).
More bizarrely, they are convinced Trevor Sinclair is one of our
best players and they were quite scared of him!
...In An Irish Pub In Tübingen, Germany
We had about 50 English fans (mostly students)
draping the George Cross all over the walls and generally taking over. After the game, we all piled into the market square
and parked ourselves outside a cafe, chanting and generally being lairy (for which we were thrown off the premises later).
One of us climbed the fountain at the centre of the square and hung the George Cross, only to be beckoned down by the
police - but not before the paparazzi got a snapshot of him and the sainted flag to be published in the paper the next day!
Celebrations were conducted in good humour, and we even had the locals smiling and sharing in the fun. Just for
irony's sake, the local church is St George's, with a statue of George slaying the dragon outside. There will be
some more decorating to do in the near future, methinks!
Also, when England beat Germany 5-1, I was in the German supporters' section with the same bunch. By the end, all the
Germans had left and all that remained were pockets of jubilant England supporters.
Sometimes living here is fantastic!
...In Germany, With Germans
I was standing in front of a huge screen in Potsdamer Platz in Berlin
with about 500 Germans (all supporting Argentina).
...Stuck In A Meeting In Denmark
And what makes things worse is I had bunked off from the
meeting only to get home to find the match was not shown live on Danish TV (even though virtually every other game is), so I
sadly had to turn around and come back into work for the meeting and rely on regular updates from Football365.
"The game was shown that evening in full but it is not the same really, is it? I am crossing fingers - and other bits
- that the Nigeria game will be live.
...In My Flat In Haifa, Israel
I am serving at the BahaI World Centre in Haifa where some
70-odd different nationalities of people serve. I had invited just a small section of those people to watch the game with
me. From Americans to Australians, Colombians to Swedes, Canadians to New Zealanders, and Africans to Costa Ricans, most, I
am glad to say, were backing England with me.
Surrounded by all these people of different cultures, I found myself the only one shouting at the TV. "Go on
Becks!" "Hit it Owen!", I would shout amid the silence, squirming in my seat as we missed chances and closing my
eyes as Beckham stepped up to take the penalty. Oh how I yearned to be back inside one of the pubs at university where
everybody would have been shouting with me.
When the final whistle blew I stood on my coffee table with my England flag draped over my back and shoulders in
celebration of the historic win. Everybody in the room just looked at me as if I was some kind of freak.
Oh how they just didnt understand. Oh how I wished there were other Englishmen there with whom I could share a
hearty and manly embrace in the ecstasy of victory. Clearly the English passion for football is lost on the other nations of
As my crowd of international friends left, half of them were thanking me for inviting them over to watch the
soccer. Oh the travesty!
...Sitting A German Exam - In Wales!
I had known for a while that I was going to miss the game
and, in preparation, I stocked up on football by watching such timeless classics as Costa Rica v China.
Yet the irony of why I should miss us finally kick the arrogant Argentinian arses - note the alliteration - is vicious. I
was busy doing a German exam and, perhaps to really rub salt into the wound, it was in a university in
The cruellest part was that although the exam went from one to four, I finished it an hour early, which was, alas,
still too late.
Having gone out to celebrate finishing exams as well, I wasn't able to catch the subsequent as-live programme on ITV,
which meant that, for years to come, I will be able only to smile and nod when people reminisce over Beckham's penalty
and Sheringham's near wonder-goal.
If it's not the Argentinians, trust the Germans to get involved somehow!
...At A Wedding In Ireland
"Some Irish friends, with blatant disregard for their Anglo
mates, had fixed their wedding for three o'clock on Friday. We could only get an early flight to Ireland on Friday
morning so at 11 o'clock we emerged from Dublin airport, desperate to high-tail to it the guest house in County Offaly
in time for kick off.
Frustrated by lumpy Irish roads chocka with tractors, we had to listen to the first half on the short wave radio we'd
brought along just in case.
We stopped the car for the penalty as we were too nervous to drive and prowled around the car. Leaping up and down to
celebrate the Beckham penalty in the high street of a tiny Irish village was not what we had in mind. But we didn't
We got to the guesthouse at half time, giving us ten minutes to change into our wedding garb before the second half.
I swear this is true, my girlfriend changed in around FIVE minutes in order to catch the game. That was almost as
beautiful as the penalty. Five minutes for the great lady to get ready - what a revelation!!!!!
So, after commandeering the guest house TV, we caught the second half, hopped delighted into the car and got to the
church a couple of minutes before the bride.
As you can imagine, the Irish were not as chuffed about the result as we were and we had to keep a lid on our
celebrations during the reception. But by about three in the morning, hearty choruses of Don't Cry For Me Argentina were
unashamedly heard throughout the building.
...Sat On A Mock-Pine Desk In Leeds
"There I sat, within a bland and silent corporate
prison squinting at a portable's 10-inch screen, drinking coffee, only a five-minute walk from Millennium Square in
Leeds, where thousands of beer-swilling revellers watched on a huge screen, singing and laughing. And drinking beer.
We were told months ago we would not be allowed to watch the match, but the fog of resentment hanging over the office
forced a late concession - on the proviso we "are aware at all times of our environment, and respect the wishes of those
who wish to work" (it was made quite clear how those who were ill on Friday would be treated).
I did ask the management about the permitted decibel level, giving examples of differing levels of exuberance.
The allowed celebration seemed to be something akin to Tim Henman's clenched-fist "Oh goody; I've won a
point" effort. Not good.
I did get reasonably animated about 30 minutes in, as the office fool decided to propose that "Steven Gerrard is not
a creative player - all he can do is tackle". The guy wears a big gold chain and garish silk shirts at office parties -
with buttons undone to the midriff. He is a virgin.
I let out a resonant "yeah" as Beckham's penalty hit the net. The admonishing glares returned me to my
coffee. I did my Henman impression when the final whistle went.
The full realisation of what I had missed hit when I left work four hours later - people passed out in the street, whole
pubs singing (this being Leeds it was alternating between England chants and anti-ManYoo ditties), and worried policemen.
I saw the match, but I missed the experience.
...In My Chief Exec's Office (In His Absence) In Scotland
I watched the game with a select
few other England fans. The alternative was in a pub in Edinburgh surrounded by born-again-Argentinian
...Working In Luxembourg
Having not been allowed the time off to watch the game "in the pub,
of course", I had managed to keep abreast of the scoreline by watching the one television upstairs and occasionally
returning to my desk, to make it look like I was actually working.
At half time, disaster struck. My director (Japanese) called a meeting, so myself and a fellow Brit spent the following
45 minutes making our excuses every five minutes (toilet, coffee, urgently required documents, etc) to check out the live
feed from the F365 website.
I even managed to smuggle a small England flag in to the meeting.
...In Amsterdam's Little England
Ordinarily I would have been in the pub with my friends.
However, work commitments meant I was actually in Amsterdam worrying about finding a bar in which to watch the match. I need
not have concerned myself for in the Central Square I found a little piece of England - a bar full of England fans and a few
Dutch folks all cheering on England, all drunk and many seemingly under the influence of a variety of mind-altering
Oh, and there was one little fellow sitting alone in the corner wearing an Argentina shirt. He was, of course, the focus
for a lot of singing and good-natured (but derisory) chants. It really was as good as being at home.
Of course when the goal went in everything went crazy, much beer was spilled and everyone in the bar was buzzing.
Everyone, that is, apart from the little Argentinian fellow, who most of the bar went towards to shake his hand at the end
of the game. A resigned smile on his face, he accepted everyone's good wishes.
I can't help thinking that those few hundred Englishmen would have probably burned him at the stake if it wasn't
for Mr Beckham and co, so there is at least one Argentinian out there who has a lot to thank the England football team
...On A Train To Peterborough
"I was travelling at about 90mph on a GNER train from
Kings Cross to Peterborough. I was standing in the North Buffet car with the train staff, huddled around a mini-TV that gave
us sound but only a very bad picture.
We heard that a penalty was given.... and went into a tunnel. That ten seconds seemed like ten minutes.
we got a signal back we heard that Beckham was about to take the penalty, then... ANOTHER tunnel! I was desperate!!
Our escape from the tunnel's signal black spot was greeted by a cheer coming from our miniature giver of all things
wonderful. England had scored!
...In The S***
OK, not for the full 90 minutes, nor for the penalty, but at the final whistle I
was up to my elbows in explosive diarrhoea from my son's nappy. I don't think it helped that at that point I threw
my hands up in the air in triumph.
Not only was I in the s***, I was also in Pennsylvania, USA, which meant that I had to get up at some ungodly hour to
watch the match. I also therefore had to put up with possibly the worst commentators on earth - a seemingly drunk Irishman
and a Yank blurting out all sort of rubbish about the game (Man, I miss Motty!).
I spent the rest of the day in jubilation, much to the bemusement of colleagues who don't know about or care about
"soccer" unless their eight-year-old son or daughter is playing.
It's times like these when I wish I was back home in dreary Plymouth.
...Next To An Argentinian In A Pub In Australia
"Well, OK, I was in the pub. An
English pub in Australia, full of English lager lads. What made my viewing so much more promising than the next guy's
was that the next guy just happened to be the only chap in the place wearing an Argentina shirt.
In a brief loss of rational thought, this clever lad had wandered, blindly, into an English pub. First bad move.
His second mistake was coming in through the only door beside the big screen TV, so the whole pub (I've never seen so
many 'Owen' shirts on considerably under-athletic gents in my life) spotted this poor bloke stride in proudly as the
only Argentine in the near and far. What made even worse for him was that he arrived during the national anthems.
What made my game so much more enjoyable was that this lad couldn't leave. Upon entering the fray, in the hope of
digging up another glum Argentine in the crowd, he managed to shoulder-lock himself front row centre for the biggest game of
And every mis-hit, every wide shot, every stray pass by the South Americans, coupled with every beaming success by the
Three Lions, saw this lad get heckled and taunted, poked, nudged, laughed at and teased beyond his wildest imagination.
And I, contentedly, stood there next to him and just smiled.
As we took control, I smiled to him.
As Dave put the ball in the net, I smiled more.
As we strung 17 consecutive passes into play, I was positively grinning.
And just as it looked like Argentina might have a comeback in mind, the final whistle blew.
I suggested to my new best friend that maybe he'd best leave an English pub, after an English victory because the
only thing better than an English victory is an English celebration.
I love it.
...Watching It Of Course, But My Colleague
You won't believe this, but it's
totally true. When England beat Argentina one of my colleagues (Rob Russell) was watching the kiddies' film Thunderpants
at the cinema.
Needless to say, there were only four other people in the same cinema at the time.
How sad is that?
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