I was bored of the World Cup before it had even started. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate sport, or even football. I soon learned when I met my (future) husband that football would play a part in my life from that point forward and I have become mildly interested in the fortunes Of Liverpool FC. I have watched matches on TV, listened to the transfer news, asked the right questions and even been to the odd match. But Rio 2014 just hasn’t been doing it for me.
I was first aware of World Cup fever in my teenage years. Results were charted and talked about in school and I could recite the whole of John Barnes’ rap from ‘World in Motion’ (in fact I still can – it’s funny what you remember). I got behind David Baddiel and Frank Skinner’s insistence that football was “coming home” in ‘3 Lions ‘98’ and shared the England dream that we could indeed repeat the 1966 triumph. I can’t say I’ve been avidly glued to world cups in the intervening years, but I’ve followed the events with mild interest and watched the odd England match with the sound on mute because of those infernal vuvuzelas.
But this year, even before England’s somewhat quick exit, I just couldn’t care less. One reason is certainly that having a baby has reprioritised pretty much everything in my life. However, the main reason is that for weeks (possibly even months) before, my exposure to the World Cup build up consisted of marketing. In my frequent supermarket visits I encountered aisles dedicated to crates of Carling, bags of Doritos, plastic flags and the odd beer fridge. I came across competition after competition offering ‘World Cup Party Packs’ and the like. So in my mind Rio 2014 became a celebration of lager and crisps. I like a few crisps every now and then but I can’t stand lager. I certainly don’t consider inviting friends round to consume the said items in front of the TV watching an event that doesn’t start until 11 o clock at night my idea of a fun packed evening.
Now the squad are heading home, the enthusiasm for England branded merchandise seems to have dwindled. Out for a quick walk with Penny yesterday I spotted this lying discarded on the ground…
But for me, a much better sporting event has now started. And the associated foodstuffs are far superior. I will take strawberries and cream and a glass of bubbly over lager and crisps any day. I have watched Wimbledon for a good few years now (and intend to go when time and ticket ballot allow). Last year, I plonked my swelling, 6 months pregnant body on the sofa and watched pretty much the entire fortnight, timing any trips out so that I didn’t miss anything. I sometimes had the internet feed on as well so I could keep an eye on two matches at once. I cheered Murray on, and was delighted when he won, but I would have kept watching even if he had been out in the first round. I’m not a tennis expert, and probably couldn’t name more than a handful of current players, but I don’t think you need to in order to appreciate a good match and get into the Wimbledon spirit.
This year I will again be watching as much as possible, Penny permitting. The strawberries are sitting in my fridge awaiting consumption (Scottish I noticed – very appropriate) and I’m sure I could manage a glass or two of something alcoholic and fizzy at the weekend. What’s more, it’s all on at civilised times of day and I don’t have to attach plastic flags to my car. I don’t know if Murray will win again. Yes, I would love him to, but I will remain as enthused by the whole Wimbledon thing whatever the fortnight brings.