Where are you watching the World Cup?

Peter Newlinds author of Around The Grounds asks 'Where is the most memorable place you have ever watched the World Cup?'

In the city of Samara in south western Russia tonight Australia plays Denmark in a World Cup game it cannot lose and probably needs to win if it is to progress to the second round of the tournament (a draw might be enough to keep that hope alive but I suspect we would then be reliant on other results in the group going our way).

There will thousands of yellow shirted Australian fans in the stadium watching the game and taking in the very attractive looking Russian summer sunshine. Elsewhere in every possible corner of the globe patriotic fans will be watching as well wherever and however they can (technological issues notwithstanding).

For those of us wintering at home and preparing for the longest night of the year it’s a 22:00 kick off. As starting times go that’s still pretty civilised. It’s definitely preferable to 04:00.

One aspect of the coverage we do receive in Australia that I really like is the notion of the lone commentator. Whether it’s the incomparable Martin Tyler or one of his numerous imitators, the idea of one voice covering one game on one screen is I think a refreshing antidote to the somewhat cluttered nature of domestic football coverage in this country. Enough of my opinions though.

I’ve been at world cup games inside huge stadiums like Soldier Field in Chicago and the Stade de France in Paris and I’ve seen them explode with joy and groan with despair. I’ve also watched world cup games on TV screens in cricket pavilions in rural England, bars in Manhattan, cafes in rural France and of course numerous TV screens around south eastern Australia on invariably cold and very dark winter mornings.

Probably the most exotic setting in which I found myself watching a world cup game was for the final of Italia ’90. The match was an ugly, bad tempered bad mannered affair between Argentina and West Germany. The only redeeming feature of the 90 minutes was that the best and most deserving team (West Germany) managed to win and lift the trophy.

In contrast to the crude spectacle on the field my surrounds on that warm Italian evening were unmistakably and undeniably beautiful. On a long summer evening in a tiny village in the Italian Alps as Maradona and others hacked their way around the field I was amid, narrow streets, ski chalets and the backdrop of the jagged granite peaks of the Dolomites. TV reception was ok as well and I clearly remember in those fledgling days of my radio career filing a report to the community station in Canberra to which I had recently become affiliated.

A perfect memory for those two hours in time, 28 years ago when the world paused to watch two teams kick the ball around a stadium.

As we all watch and hope that Australia gets the result it needs tonight, I wonder where people will be watching the game? In the comfort of your home? With some mates down the local? Where is the most memorable place you can recall ever watching a world cup match from?

Around the Grounds

Photo by Wang Xi on Unsplash

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