I was sitting on my bed staring blankly at the laptop in the wee small hours of the morning as I began writing this piece. The perpetually annoying, criminally unfunny and generally piss-poor ‘comedian’ Ed Byrne humourlessly subjected an unfortunate audience to his rambling shite on my TV; the remote was nowhere to be found. I drowned out the noise and began to reflect on the previous months in sport. The summer is often the climax of the sporting year, the Olympics and most sports’ World Cups take place in these months. This year was somewhat barren in that regard; last year we watched Usain Bolt glide to gold in Beijing at tremendous speeds while in the pools Michael Phelps achieved unparalleled glory. This summer the main sporting event on paper was most likely The Ashes, the most famous competition in world cricket. We were treated to the usual arrogance (not without reason) from the Aussies while England once again began their seasonal worship of the talented all-rounder and second-coming of Christ, Andrew ‘Pedalo’ Flintoff. The pageantry and tradition of the Ashes make it a fascinating spectacle but I’m yet to build my endurance to watching a 50-over game – I can barely manage half a Twenty20. Given this cricketing impairment I was forced to turn my focus elsewhere, and there was one place that seemed impossible to escape from.
Football’s summer transfer window is an enthralling time for any fan. The endless speculation and media-induced excitement can be hard to bear. Many of us supporters spend our summers hunched over a computer screen playing private investigator over some South American starlet that the Colombian Daily Star has insinuated could be possibly thinking about being interested in a transfer offer from our club that may or may not exist. This is all fuelled further by shit-stirring agents out for a quick million. So there we sit, voyeur-like, scouring YouTube for highlights of these players who are sure to live up to their ‘next Messi’ or ‘new Zidane’ titles. The ratio of linked players to actual signings is probably akin to the amount of laughs Ed Byrne gets per joke. So why do we put ourselves through it? The answer would seem to be that we have a perverted lust for disappointment. Each summer we have our hopes built up only to be spectacularly torn down; leaving us sobbing at our desks in September, a spent husk.
Of course not all fans have to suffer through this. As mentioned in this issue by our chief opinionist, SureShot, Real Madrid and more recently Manchester City have championed a daring ‘buy whoever we’ve heard is good and to hell with formations, balance, team spirit and all that bollocks’ business plan. Fans of these teams rarely have time to become excited about potential signings in between unveilings of their newest commercial assets, I mean players. Yes the transfer window really is an amazing phenomenon; our eyes remained glued to it in the same way that we’d look at a train-wreck., it’s a terrible sight but we just can’t look away. Truly it is a curious perversion.
There was some actual football played this summer however. The Confederations Cup took place in Seth Effrika as a dress-rehearsal for next year’s World Cup and we were all treated to a preview of what it will be like watching the greatest tournament in international football played to the sound of a giant bee hovering over the stadium. Televisions around the world were put on mute for 90 minutes as the home fans chose to introduce us to the ultimate atmosphere-killer: the Vuvuzela horn. The sound of tens of thousands of people blowing into the melodically-challenged horns for the duration of a match made the tournament much more of a chore than it needed to be. Indeed we were treated to some great moments, most of which came from the surprising progress of the USA team. The handful of Americans who have even a passing interest in ‘sawker’ celebrated the team’s performance wildly before settling down and preparing for the planned lynching of David Beckham upon his return from Milan.
Other sports scarcely featured something to match the controversy and intrigue of football but they did try their level best. The swimming world was rocked by a mind-blowing debate on the unfair advantages created by the improved technology in swimsuit design. This issue provided a rather interesting subtext to the World Championships of the sport which were held in Rome. This event saw Phelps actually beaten by a creature that didn’t have gills. Swimming’s favourite stoner did pick up some gold at the meet however and we are assured that once the swimsuits are standardised in the New Year, the sport will return to the one-sided Phelps-fest we all crave.
It may not have been spectacular but this summer did allow us to realise how spoiled we were last year while giving us some spare time to acknowledge the people in our lives that exist outside of TV screens and all-seater stadia. Thank Flintoff it’s over!