All the World’s a Football (Summer Blog Post One)

Football all the World over and all the Year Round

All the World’s a Football (Summer Blog Post One)

Dear readers of my blog,

before you start to wonder about what I am doing now, let me briefly explain that opening my drawer of unpublished texts on football matches I do not intend to leave the literary sphere at all. Having decided early on, way before I had come of age that watching football would be the activity I might stick to rather than trying in vain to imitate my peers, I was glad one day to discover that Oscar Wilde had been a strictly non-playing member of an Oxford University Cricket Club. At least he was a club member. I never joined a football club. At the same time, as a man of letters with many favourite writers I also like many different football teams and ways of playing the game. So writing about it allows me to combine two passions, and since the book market in that respect does not like to accommodate books like the one I wrote five years ago I try my luck by dividing the diary entries into blog posts. Some of them will certainly include references to events taking place this summer, while the gist recalls impressions from the Brazil World Cup in 2014.



All the World’s a Football

Football all the World over and all the Year Round

A Diary kept during the

20th World Cup 2014, Brazil

(12th June through 13th July)

With additions noted in 2018 and for publication on the Internet in 2019

By Jörg W. Rademacher

Leer, East Frisia, Germany



“’Tis Sixty Years Since”:

The Miracle of Berne’



Acknowledgments

While the title and sub-title of this diary allude equally to the history of football and of literature (Renaissance, Charles Dickens), its motto is derived from Sir Walter Scott’s first historical novel, Waverley; or ‘Tis Sixty Years Since, which was published on 7th July 1814, exactly 200 years ago that is.

In terms of history of any kind, let alone that of sports, sixty years are still within living memory, and on 4th July 1954 the fifth World Cup Final was played at Wankdorfstadion Berne, and I dedicate this diary to the memory of my two grandfathers Werlé and Rademacher who were eye witnesses of Kaiserslautern players or contemporary witnesses of the ‘Miracle of Berne’, as that match is also called. Since I had no chance to question either of them before writing about football, I interviewed the late Klaus Petzke, eye witness of the Final at Munich on 7th July 1974, and Hajo Müller, eye witness of many international finals more lost than won disputed by both Bayern Munich and the German national team as well as many other more or less ardent followers of football who I sometimes only happened to overhear. As it happens any living memory of the “Miracle of Berne” was soon to be superseded by the expectations suddenly raised of experiencing another miraculous football adventure, the World Cup in Brazil.

Prefatory to anything else

Aware of imitating the preliminary remarks habitually made in a prominent academic literary journal based in Tulsa/Oklahoma I once subscribed to, I cannot but introduce this World Cup Diary by outlining my personal motivations.

Forty years ago when I watched the 1974 World Cup taking place in Germany I was based in the small town of Unna, Westphalia, about twenty kilometres from the centre of the Ruhr area. Though surrounded by fanatic supporters of at least two local professional clubs and their daily skirmishes at school, it was only fifteen years later that I realized to have grown up in the vicinity of two of Germany’s foremost football clubs: Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04.

At that time, at age 25, I had already decided to follow events live, to watch finals that is, rather than to stay at home, following them on TV.

First, in 1988, I attended The Netherlands vs. Soviet-Union, playing the Euro Final in Munich. Second, in 1989, I found my Ruhr area bearings on the way to the German Cup Final of Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund in Berlin. It was then, too, that I started jotting down the odd impressions first about our trip, then about football in general. Finally, in 1990, I bet on Germany reaching the World Cup Final in Rome, booked a language course in the Italian capital and found myself a spectator of Germany vs. Argentina in the Stadio olimpico on 8th July.[1]

Having accomplished this personal threesome of both ardent and arduous fandom, I suffered a post-final Blues which would last several weeks. For many years, I regularly recalled the Roman experience, hoping one day to find that moment superseded by another German side winning the World Cup.

In 2014, I decided to keep a diary to register anything that might bother me, and after Germany had won the World Cup I have come to realize once again what had kept me preoccupied back in 1990: all those memories of undigested images from goals, and emotions lived through both before, during, and after the matches. So it is with the hope of helping other football fans to overcome any World Cup Blues that I made up my mind to publish this account of both the latest tournament and some of the ten editions I have witnessed since 1974.

Jörg W. Rademacher

Leer, East Frisia, late July 2014 1

Thinking of who is likely to win this year’s World Cup, the hosts seem to me the favourites. I might argue differently, pro domo, for Germany, that is, as quite a few of my colleagues and students are wont to do, but once predictions of individual matches are asked for as well as the names of winner and runner-up, I don’t feel like coming up with an over-all surprise. It would be too much wishful thinking.

       Going for Brazil and Italy, though, I confirm my own view, held ever since the 2014 World Cup had been given to Brazil, that our German team wouldn’t stand a chance there – given the heat, the humidity, and the different kinds of grass and climate of that vast country.

       On a walk, today, Friday, 27th June, two weeks into the tournament, it also occurs to me that but for England (once) and German (thrice) the World Cup has only been won by Latin countries from two continents, the rankings being topped by Brazil, Italy, Argentina and Uruguay. Yet so far, Europe has won ten among nineteen editions. South America could draw level this time.

       Back to the opening day of the competition, it is beneath that conservative surface attitude that there has always been a glimmer of hope they, the Germans, might put an end to the wait for the fourth title started almost twenty-four years when I attended the Final in the Stadio olimpico at Rome. At the time, I bought my ticket along with two printers from South Germany, one of whom has since passed on. Both born in 1954, they hailed from the year Germany first won the World Cup in that memorable drama at Wankdorfstadion now demolished and replaced in Berne, Switzerland.

       While weeding the crevices between the bricks of our private parking space, it was the idea of Miroslav Klose scoring at least twice during the coming World Cup which would take him past Ronaldo that ruled my train of thought rather than Germany’s hopes in general. If Klose managed this feat, it would mean Coach Löw had rightly stuck to this forward for so long since his sad face four years ago had suggested to me the striker’s foreboding that the match for third place of Germany vs. Uruguay was the last of World Cup action he would ever see sitting on the touchline bench. Since things have turned out differently in Klose’s own case, the action in the World Cup as a whole might also prove me wrong. I wouldn’t mind teams other than Brazil/Argentina/Italy/Spain playing the semi-finals on the 8th/9th July, although that would mean my losing all my bonus points for that round – sixteen points all in all.

Leer, East Frisia, Wednesday, 11th June 2014

 

 

[1] There are still people who place such bets while winning the ticket in a lottery before the World Cup in Russia 2018. Ostfriesenzeitung, 17th July 2018, p. 23.





 

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