Thanks to me living in Scotland, I was unable to watch the Germany vs. England football match on television last night. The game was broadcast south of the border on ITV1 but STV had to go with a repeat showing of Inspector Morse spin-off Lewis instead for some reason or other. Scotland played Argentina but this was shown on Sky Sports satellite channel, which my flatmate and I decided was too extortionate many months ago.
I was about to switch on the radio and listen to the game on BBC Radio Five Live when I remembered about Zattoo. This allows you to watch a selection of TV stations on your computer in several European countries for free and – most importantly last night – included in these channels is ITV1 London.
Yesterday the BBC announced that their main channels will be simulcast online from next week. This is simply massive news and will no doubt cause UK ISPs some major headaches with the inevitable increase in traffic this will bring.
Cool as this is, I do have worries about the implications this has for the television license here in the UK. Previously you were usually okay if you didn’t own a television set but with more channels being online it will soon be assumed that you must be watching tv programmes if you own a computer and no doubt it will be up to you to prove otherwise.
Now I’ve recovered after being taken around the Kings Cross area for my cousins birthday, I headed into the City and walked from Darling Harbour up to The Rocks, Circular Quay and around the Botanical Gardens. I remember a rumour that one of the guides on the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb was Kristian Schmidt (you’ll know him better as Todd Landers from Neighbours). I didn’t particularly want to blow a couple of hundred dollars to find out so I hopped on a bus to Bondi. I opted for the 333 limited stop service (AUS $4) instead of the Bondi Explorer (AUS $39). I’m not sure exactly why the regular bus was so much cheaper. It may have been a little slower but I was still walking on the beach 30 minutes later.
I carried on my walk along the coastal path down to Coogee. I arrived in time for the reply of last nights game between Spain and Italy and by luck walked into the Coogee Bay Hotel Sports Bar which is home to the two largest plasma televisions in Australia (103″ Panasonic TH-103PF9UK).
I fancied Spain before the tournament got underway so I’m glad they’re through. Who knows, the “Spain never wins a major trophy” hoodoo just may be over.
Isn’t technology wonderful? I was worried about missing the Champions League final and probably would have had to change my flight had Liverpool beaten Chelsea in the semi but it turns out that I needn’t have worried. WestJet had ESPN available on their seat-back screens so I managed to catch the game at 40,000 feet. Annoyingly we landed 30 minutes ahead of schedule so I missed a large chunk of the second half but I made it through baggage reclaim in plenty time to take up a seat at the bar for extra time and the ensuing penalties.
I have to say that I’m glad Manchester United won. I only actually dislike them now compared with hating Chelsea with a passion and I think that it was somehow a fitting victory 50 years on from the Munich disaster. Bobby Charlton showed so much decorum when Platini tried to give him a winners medal and you have to admire the sportsman in Paul Scholes who went straight to console the opposition.
I had another celebratory pint with the Liverpool supporting barman and then made my way into Vancouver on the Airporter bus trying to spot anything that looked vaguely familiar but a lot has changed in the six years since I last visited the city.
As an Englishman living in Scotland for the past 12 or so years I am starting to realise that we, as a nation, are not universally liked. In a sporting sense I put this down to a couple of things. Firstly is the English media and it’s inflated opinions of our national teams. Then there’s the history repeated ad nauseum. John Motson somehow managed to mention 1966 before a ball had even been kicked this evening and that has even started to annoy me.
The press also serves to goad the populous. While the hooligan element is thankfully mainly keeping away from the stadia these days, the English fans as a whole are still obnoxious, impatient and disrespectful. Contrast the booing of the Swiss national anthem by the fans with new England manager Fabio Capello applauding the Swiss team when they scored their goal to level the game at 1-1.
As for the game itself, it was always going to be off to a tentative start. The first half hour was especially poor and England struggled to pass the ball to each other which always makes the game more difficult. Wes Brown in particular was having a tough time of it. After the half-time team talk things settled down at 2-1 and England actually looked like a good side going into the last 20 minutes. Admittedly the game had opened up somewhat with the Swiss trying to chase an equaliser for the second time.
David Bentley was chosen ahead of David Beckham and just edged the man of the match for me ahead of actual winner Steven Gerrard who swapped flanks with Joe Cole to great effect. David “Calamity” James almost stayed true-to-form by gifting the opposition a goal by getting stuck so far out of position that even Bruce Grobbelaar would have questioned his judgement.
All-in-all, a promising start considering the team had only been together for a few days. Maybe it was down to the welcome new edict banning of wives and girlfriends, agents and mobile phones.
I enjoyed my usual Saturday routine yesterday: Soccer AM, Football Focus, the Fighting Talk podcast and this week went along to the Hearts Kilmarnock match because I hadn’t had enough football for the day. Plus it was a good opportunity to catch up with some friends I hadn’t see in a while.
At some point during the day it hit me – barring Le Tour, this Summer will see a dearth of sporting events. The Egg-chasing World Cup doesn’t start until September, t’Cricket World Cup will have long finished. It’s an odd numbered year so there is no major football competition. What am I to do?
I’m giving consideration to following up on a promise to brush-up on my languages or maybe even learn a new one. Early candidates are Ruby or Python.