Friday 9th June 2006

It has just turned 1am as I begin to write this entry. I should really have gone straight to bed after working on client’s web site but opted to stay up, chat to some friends on MSN and blog. My main motivation is that the World Cup has started and unlike four years ago, when this blog was just beginning, I can now truly discuss how I feel about the biggest tournament on the planet. Particularly after what has been quite a rubbish week by my standards at work. Rather than dig up old news and bore you with the tedious tales from the office I prefer to look at the positive. Dave called me up last night. I was quite low at that time, but his call really cheered me up and made realise that there is so much to look forward to. I hope to meet up with him in September to go to a Palace game, although they will not be in the Premiership (as he had hoped prior to the playoffs). Dave is my best friend and one of the silent readers of this blog. He will read most of the entries but never comment or take part, but he will mention entries from time to time when he rings me. The second person to cheer me up as on MSN and as I had not spoken to them online for what felt like months, it was great to catch up. Hopefully we can speak on Skype over the weekend. Following on from my complaint to Vue, I have four (yes four) free tickets for Vue cinemas. I will be going to see Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift with Pav next week and then hopefully Pirates Of The Caribbean 2 with Clive a few weeks after.

Were you ready for the World Cup? Felt like I have been waiting an age for this day to come around. My digital clock at work, was counting down to this day as soon as the domestic season began in mid August. Chris, also had (although less accurate) countdown as his personal message on MSN. Yet, he was there for the final countdown today, as he was in Spain with his girlfriend. I couldn’t sleep last night, I was too excited. The World Cup, this is what dreams are made of. The tournament for me is the greatest sporting event on the calendar. International football just has an edge of passion, magic and panache, that is lacking in the domestic game. Sure, there are great goals and entertaining players throughout the leagues, but to play for your country in the World Cup Finals is the dream of many (if not every) schoolboy. While the European Championship is a good ‘filler’ tournament, it does not arouse the same degree of interest as this tournament. What I feel the media have forgotten is how that it could have been held here in England. We did bid for it, remember? Then again, seeing the state of Wembley maybe it was a blessing in disguise we did not, and the Germans did. Four years ago, seems such a long time ago, sure it is but then I was able to enjoy the games from the comfort of my student house or here at home. Now I would have to make do with a mixture of BBC Online, DAB Pocket Radio and Five Live AM in the car. Thankfully there are plenty of highlight programmes dotted around the schedules for me to pick up and of course rolling news channels with their own roundup ever fifteen minutes or so.

I am a big fan of Toni Braxton, she has a wonderful powerful, yet satiable voice. My favourite song is perhaps, Breathe Again, which I only rediscovered earlier this year. I found out only a few months ago that she was teaming up with Il Divo to record the official song for the World Cup, Germany 2006. Now, let me set the record straight, official songs for any tournament or event are usually nothing but cash cows to have fans part with yet more money. This song is different, it perhaps does reflect how, we the fans feel when the World Cup comes around every four years. Before this I would place Pavarotti’s version of Nessun Dorma as my favourite theme (anthem is just inappropriate) to a World Cup in my living memory. 1990 was the first tournament I recall watching on television from start to finish. Four years later, in the US of A, they had Daryl Hall with the Sounds of Blackness with the fantastic ‘Glory land’. Although it was more optimistic in nature than full of joy. Yet I think this year’s song beats both. Let me explain why. It is the perfect World Cup song because I had goose pimples all over me, as I heard the arousing chorus for the first time. I think Toni’s beautiful voice makes the song what it is, it needs that woman’s touch. With every football match, there is a sense of expectation, the sense of not knowing what is going to happen over 90 minutes, but knowing this is the biggest stage for footballers and for many a one off experience. I saw the video briefly on the music channels in the hotel in Norfolk last weekend. Having just watched it in full (thanks to YouTube dot com I have can pin down exactly why it works so well. It is pure emotion. Showing some of the magic moments from classic games from yesterday. That is it, the reason why this pointless game is so successful, so special is the emotions we feel, as we win, as we lose. We win together, we lose together. Either way, I hope we all have the time of our lives. To those that do not follow the beautiful game and do not care, they will perhaps never understand. Football is a religion, the players are our gods and this song is, for this year at least our hymn, our sermon.

I tried to watch the opening ceremony on the BBC web site while at work (it was dead on the phones today, by the way) but I missed it, the page just kept crashing due to excess traffic. Thankfully I had asked Mighty Mouse to Myth TV for me from home, so I should be able to download that over the weekend. It will only be the opening ceremony, but then again this is the first one I have ever missed. Call it routine, but I just tend to watch most open ceremonies for most events. Time for bed, in less than twelve hours England play in their opening group game.

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