At first I was a bit ginger about this World Cup sweepstake thing, what with ‘sweepstake’ sounding a bit too sporty in itself and ‘World Cup’ being an emblem for everything that I’m not. Still, it’s the taking part that counts and if I'm intellectually robust enough to enjoy Eurovision then surely I can handle a piddly World Cup right? It’s not like these football fans have been studying the game for years is it?
So. I’ve drawn Group D, and have already set about reading up on my teams: Germany, Australia, Serbia and, um, Ghana. I went to Berlin once but spent the time shopping, site-seeing, eating waffles and fagging about. I’m really kicking myself now for not visiting their official football shop. I might have a little rummage in their online store later and grab myself some black and white Deutschland briefs.
I’m a quarter Australian, so that’s cool, my Granddad rocked up on British shores in the 1950s. I’ve watched porn from Serbia, and I think I’ve heard of Ghana (*does a Wikipedia search on Ghana Football Team 2010*).
Germany’s team certainly look very German, and according to my friend David Langford who works in a betting shop the odds are quite high at 5/4 for winning their group and then 14/1 for winning the Cup, making them the 6th best team. They’re my best chance of winning the £16 jackpot, which I would probably spend on Glass Candy’s album and a couple of Red Stripes in G-A-Y Late.
Ghana look a bit scary, like they journeyed to South Africa in four off-piste Jeeps with machine guns slung over their backs or something. I probably won't watch any of their matches.
Serbia is intriguing, their team list looks like an explosion in a Scrabble factory, and some of their players are so utterly unfamous they've not even bothered to change their Facebook settings. Nikola Zigic, Dragan Mrdja, Danko Lazovic and Marko Pantelic are the forwards. In fact, I think I’ve seen Nikola in a couple of, er, films. Footballers have to be diverse in countries like Serbia you see, wages aren’t as lucrative as they are over here in the wag wag west and they can never be too sure where their next meal is coming from. I think Serbia might be the team that I watch most, purely on the basis that one of them's called Dragan.
Above we can see Serbia's Nikola Zigic bringing some of his acting skills to the pitch. Below, Harry Kewell is a bit of an Australian heartthrob, but is he any good at football?
Which players are the best for each team? How far will Germany get? I need answers! I’m a football know nothing. Even if I was sporty at school, the bellowing public school that I attended didn’t even offer football. I think on a Friday night the European kids were allowed to play it for an hour in the sports hall, but there were no teams that were taken seriously and no to-the-death fixtures set up against rival public schools. The highest profile football ever really enjoyed was a bit of a quick kicky-ups contest in the Chemistry block corridor.
Currently I’m using two websites to educate myself. This one, the BBC World Cup official site, which is as boring and comprehensive as one would expect, but doesn’t have very good photos of the teams. And then there’s this site Marca that a football fluent colleague sent to me. I like the look of the site, kind of like a spaceship control panel and very colourful, but it’s all a bit above my head in terms of content. Why can’t there be a Big Brother style World Cup website with profile pictures, gossip banners and easy-to-digest news updates? I want to see a 'HOT or NOT' snap poll beside each player. Apparently collecting stickers is the best entrance exam to building a knowledge of the World Cup, but I've missed the boat by 15 years.
Germany Vs Australia is on Sunday. My first task will be picking a pub to watch the ghastly matches in, I can't let my flatmate catch me watching football, it'd be social suicide. I think there are some people near Finsbury Park who folllow football, either that or everyone coincidentally has a red and white scarf. I'll have to follow them when I leave the tube later and see where they go...