I’ve rearranged my books, records, DVDs, shoes, shirts, t-shirts and pants. I’ve begun to start pairing my socks for the first time in my life. I am pretty close to attempting to cut my own hair, just to see how bad it can go. I am eating way more chocolate than can be considered healthy, and my first beer of the day is getting earlier and earlier. So you tell me how I’m coping with being stuck in the same room for 23 hours at a time.
But at least we had a classic game to look forward to, a sweet injection of nostalgia, coming at the end of what has been a very trying few days.
During the week, Pete suggested inviting his friend Chris to join us watching the match. Initially, I was sceptical, as I’m not particularly keen on video chatting with my close family, let alone people I’ve only met once. Thankfully Chris seemed perfectly normal and more importantly very enthusiastic to mock/give grief Pete at any given moment, especially over his favourite Pizza toppings- Capers, Anchovies, and Olives, which we can all agree would taste beyond awful.
The one issue was that neither of them had made any effort to wear a relevant football top, whereas I’d taken some time deliberating between a Sampdoria 2015 or a fake Inter Milan 2016 shirt. Despite the Sampdoria top resembling a cycling jersey opposed to a football shirt, it still is a beautiful piece of work, so it was the one I went with.
The game we selected was the 1982 World Cup match between Italy and Brazil. A recent article on the Football Pink covered this game (and Italy’s entire 82 campaign) with much greater eloquence, so I won’t attempt to explain what happened in too finer detail. What I will say is that the match genuinely was a great spectacle, with both sides showing incredible attacking flair, always content to go forward even when there were leads or goal difference to protect.
It did take some time to get our heads around what stage of the World Cup this game was; initially, I believed it was the quarter-final before it was pointed out that it was, in fact, the last game of the second group stage. Two group stages? The eighties was a strange time.
This was also the first match any of us had ever seen where passing back to the keeper was allowed, which was quite jarring initially. I had expected it to really slow the game down, especially after Italy had gone ahead for the third time in the match, however, the pace of the game never seemed to really drop.
Having been one of the highest-rated goalkeepers on the Classic Eleven teams on FIFA, I was intrigued to see Dino Zoff in a full game. While he was undoubtedly a fine shot-stopper and a very imposing figure, what struck me most was that he had one of the defenders take all of his goal kicks for him. This was something I was used to seeing during under 15’s Sunday League games, where one of the bigger boys took the responsibility as he was the only one who could boot it over the halfway line. So to see it in a World Cup match was quite extraordinary.
For some reason, the coverage on Youtube neglected to show us the lineups at any point during the game, let alone right at the beginning which would’ve been quite useful. In addition, neither score or time was ever displayed because who cares about minor details like that?
Having been incredibly frustrated by my lack of preparedness last week, it was the ever-reliable Pete who experienced a major technical issue when his Google Chromecast stopped working just before half time. Shockingly, he did not appreciate being ritually mocked and went into full meltdown mode, saying some very post-watershed remarks to his laptop. Few things are as entertaining as watching a friend swear at an inanimate object while you’re on a video call with them.
I knew the final score of the game but had no idea when the goals happened (which didn’t matter, as previously discussed we never knew what time in the game it was anyway). Whereas the other two didn’t know the outcome at all, so again it was like watching a live game, as the goals brought about genuine excitement. It was interesting to read that Paolo Rossi, who bagged all three for Italy, had previously not scored in the tournament. What a time to turn it on.
While the football on show was incredibly engaging, there were other things going on screen that caught our attention. In the first half, there seemed to be quite a large quantity of toilet paper (insert topical joke about it not being hoarding back in those days…) had been thrown onto the pitch, near the halfway line on the left-hand side. None of the players seemed bothered enough to get rid of it. Even the linesman, who was only inches away from it at any time let it lie there, with it occasionally getting caught around the players’ feet. Surely at half time someone would have a word and get this sorted out? Not at all, it was still there for the entirety of the second period too.
This would’ve been the strangest sight, had it not been for someone flying a kite across the corner the pitch. Honestly, a kite. In a crucial World Cup game. So many questions, unfortunately so few answers.
Occasionally our minds would drift and we’d discuss the dreaded COVID, but thankfully this only happened a hand full of times due to the entertaining game that was on offer. As with the previous week, it was nice to have a few hours away from the madness of everything and concentrate on our shared passion for football. It doesn’t look like this will be over any time soon, but thankfully there are still a number of decent games on YouTube to keep us going for the next few weeks.