I am writing this on the morning of World Cup Final day 2010. I better get a move on as I have remembered just 4 World Cups so far: 1978, 1982, 1986 and 1990; there are another 4 to write about.
This will be a longer article than the rest, because USA ’94 remains the only World Cup I actually travelled to in person. The Republic of Ireland was the only country to qualify from “these islands” in this World Cup and I meticulously planned a 3-week itinerary that would place me, my girlfriend and her sister in New York / New Jersey, Boston, Dallas and San Francisco at times that might coincide with Ireland’s progress through the tournament.
To get us in the mood, though, we travelled to Dublin to watch Ireland’s first match against Italy in a Northside pub, which was our friend’s local. We were keen to enjoy the full cultural experience of this historic moment as opposed to watered-down, looking over your shoulder version available north of the border. Read more…
This is the latest in my series of World Cup recollections. They’re turning out to be a snapshot of what I was up to at 4-yearly intervals. Italia ’90 strikes me as a feel good tournament for many nationalities; English, Irish, even the Scots, though apparently it is “widely regarded as one of the poorest World Cups ever” because of its low goal tally and negative tactics. But it’s not really the goals we cherish in our memories, it’s the emotions we went through, isn’t it?
Having finished my Edinburgh student days in 1989, I was now living back in Belfast and working at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in Musgrave Park Hospital of all places: a computer programmer researching the diagnostic potential of knee vibrations. Clickity, clickity. After the memory loss of the student days, my recall of events from 1990 is much clearer. Read more…
Following on from my recollections of the World Cups (1978 and 1982), which live strongly in my childhood memory, I come to the first tournament I experienced as an adult: Mexico 1986. Northern Ireland had qualified once again and the tournament produced the infamous Hand of God goal and the Goal of the Century in one match. However as applicable to many major world events and the current affairs of this period, my memories are extremely hazy. Let’s face it – I was 19, just finished my first year as a student in Edinburgh, and had spent much of the Summer term recovering from a nasty bout of glandular fever.
I don’t even remember where I was when I was watching the football action. All I’m left with is the fact that the name Josimar still fills me with a sense of awe and wonder.
So a huge hazy slot in my memory for my early adult years. Do you suffer from a similar haziness for that period in your lives?
In the Summer of 1982, I was 15 years old and on the verge of spending time away from home for the first time. Three weeks on an exchange trip to Germany was in the offing and Northern Ireland had qualified for the World Cup in Spain.
In the first group stage, they battled out a couple of draws against Honduras and Yugoslavia before facing the hosts Spain. Nobody gave them a chance, but it was a match they had to win and clearly it was a match they believed they could win, even with 10 men for most of the second half. I still get goosebumps watching this heroic performance which won them the group and qualification for the second phase of group games with Austria and France.
So the World Cup 2010 is on. I’ve never been very good at playing football, but I’ve always enjoyed having a go and will continue to do so for as long as I can. I’m quite good at watching from the armchair, though. For this tournament, I’m running a wee Score Prediction Game online. When I conceived this labour of love, I envisioned a much bigger thing with prizes and everything, spreading virally around the Twitterverse. However when push came to shove and important things like work and family took priority, I only just about managed to get it implemented in time. I’m delighted to have the little group of 29 predictors battling it out throughout the tournament.
As the 2010 tournament begins to splutter into flame halfway through the group stages, I’ve decided to look back at my World Cup memories down through the years. My interest in football probably was just beginning to blossom in 1974 (aged 7) what with Cruyff, Beckenbauer and my “namesake”, Gerd Müller and Co., but the real strong World Cup memories begin in 1978. Read more…