National stereotypes. They abound all over the world, don’t they?
The Scots are careful with their money. The English are reserved. The Irish like to drink and fight (my American wife had never seen people brawling on the street until she moved to Belfast). The Americans are loud – AND KEEP IT DOWN OVER THERE WHILE I’M TRYING TO WRITE! And that’s just my three-year-old Yank daughter.
Doubtless some people use lazy prejudices to validate everything from casual xenophobia to rampant racism, but stereotypes are stereotypes, well, because they are true. Take this week for example.
Finn McCool’s FC, the pub team I occasionally star for when our Jock manager puts me on, played our second game of the season on Sunday. At half-time we were 2-0 down to a young Hispanic side full of silky Latinos, and with our Scottish centre-half and Irish left-back both closer to 50 than 40, things didn’t look good. But – now here’s a surprise – they lost their heads.
Instead of coasting to victory they imploded. Our German forward tugged back their captain – an obvious free kick – but the bloke jumped up and swung a punch at our guy Volker. Think Gattuso / Jordan but not as funny. He was shown a straight red.
We got a goal back, but then their midfielder who had already been booked kicked the ball away to delay a free kick with 25 minutes to go and received a second yellow. Crazy. The nine men disintegrated and we won 3-2. From out of nowhere. Madness.
The next day I watched the Fulham game and a more flattering stereotype popped up. Yep, that overhead cross. Crazy. Crazier.
I mean, come on, the ball is going out for a corner and you are a debutant centre-back switched to right-back who finds himself in the left wing position. So let the ball trickle over the line and pack the box for the set piece. That’s what you should do, right?
Or… you could attempt the most audacious overhead kick-come-cross the watching fans have ever seen. The sort of thing that has every chance of misfiring and leaving you lying on your bum, an object of ridicule because you’ve just turned a sure-fire corner into a goal-kick.
Fan-bloody-tastic. You think a player from any other nation on Earth apart from the Samba boys of Brazil would have tried that? It was obviously so natural, so instinctive, so inbreed in the DNA. Three days later I’m still marvelling at it.
Isn’t it funny how a little flash, little nugget, little fraction of the match can bring such joy? It lit up the blogosphere, the internet, the carrier pigeon world, bar discussions worldwide and everywhere else that footie fans congregate and chat.
In these days of overpriced journeymen, teams lauded for stifling talent and creativity to grind out scoreless draws, unproven teenage players driving Ferraris and God-knows-what-else that has gone wrong with our game, that little cameo and seat-of-your-pants improvisation reminds us all why we fell in love with the game in the first place.
Sure, on the basis of the Fulham performance alone, Torres looks overpriced and Luiz looks under-priced. But everyone knows it’s way too early to pass judgement on either.
But no matter what sort of career young David Luiz goes onto have, I’ll remember how that wee piece of magic lit up my dull Monday afternoon – and of course reinforced that lazy, national stereotype.
Stephen Rea is the author of the book Finn McCool’s Football Club, a tale of supporting Chelsea from the United States, the formation of a pub football team in New Orleans and the devastating effect of Hurricane Katrina on that city. Visit his site here: www.stephen-rea.com
Please note : the views in many of our blogs are written by fans of Chelsea FC and are not necessarily the views of the club