There wasn’t room on the questionnaire (WSC No 138) to record my favourite World Cup moment. Given the paucity of the “entertainment”, the presence of the Paraguayan defender, Arce, was a blessing. Credit must be given to Barry Davies, who never slipped up with his pronunciation, as the rest of us surely would have. Thus, Arce was constantly announced as “Ah-Say!” in the grand manner of the blustering cartoon rooster, Foghorn Leghorn, and never once degenerated into “Aaaarse” like the yokel in The Fast Show sketches.
Martin Callaghan, Wakefield
Like Alastair Walker (Letters, WSC No 138) I, too, feel strongly that many of your correspondents are obsessive about subjects that are essentially trivial. However, in the interests of accuracy, I feel it is only right to point out that Bam Bam was not actually Barney Rubble’s son. He was, in fact, adopted.
Dave Bartley, Doncaster
It was with some dismay that I read of Slough Town’s recent expulsion from the Vauxhall Conference due to the alleged inadequacy of their ground. There is one particular feature of this ground that, from a (male) fan’s perspective, puts it above every major stadium in the country. It is the only ground I have ever been to where the Gents toilets not only face the pitch, but afford a virtually unobstructed view of the game. Has there ever been a more considerate design characteristic? At Slough Town there is no need to hop nervously from foot to foot for the last ten min- utes of the half, hoping there’s not too much stoppage time. Nor to dash off when a player goes down injured, reckoning you can be there and back before the physio has got him back on his feet (only to find he has made a miracle recovery the moment you turned your back, got up and curled in a goal of which Dennis Bergkamp would be proud). Can you believe that a ground that features such architectural mastery is being punished? If the designers of the ground are reading this, could they please contact me, because I am thinking of making some changes to my bathroom in time for the next World Cup.
Andrew Brindle, Camberley
I know it’s a little late now, but your comments on biased English reporting about ticket allocations and general running of France 98 and its effects were spot on. In my local pub a French man was set upon by our local branch of “No Surrender” arseholes. His crime? In response to their less than friendly “Go on mate, you’re French, you can get us tickets”, he replied that he didn’t like football. Cue indignant rage of England’s finest at the terrible state of affairs that they wanted tickets and couldn’t get them, whilst Johnny Foreigner hadn’t the slightest interest (despite the fact that he would probably have been just as unsuccessful). This was a month before kick-off. Strangely enough I did all my World Cup watching at home this year.
William White, Bucks
Cris Freddi is absolutely right about Roberto Carlos (WSC No 138). Fantastic pace, yes, but all the positional sense of a drunk accountant. Ally that to the fact any cross landing within the field of play is a positive bonus. I’d been wondering what had happened to Wayne Fereday.
Tom Locke, Edinburgh
I thought Sainsbury’s had overdone the World Cup hype when they started putting labels like “ideal half-time snack” on pizzas – after all, most of us can decide for ourselves what we want to eat. But then it struck me that this idea has wider applications – all we need are labels with “ideal half-time pundit” on them, and we’d never have to put up with Martin O’Neill’s demented ramblings again. How the BBC thought a bloke whose average sentence is five minutes long was compatible with a 15-minute break is beyond me.
Steve Mawby, Hebden Bridge
I thought WSC No 138 failed to whinge about the one thing at the World Cup that really was poor: the pathetic failure of British police “intelligence” to live up to its pre-match hype. Beforehand, you’d got the impression that every port and every match and every host city would be crammed with eagle-eyed bobbies to whom the face of every English villain was personally known. By the time the cup “kicked off” they’d disappeared – if they ever existed outside of a press release – like Bulgarian defenders in front of a Spaniard. The French sports paper L’Equipe ran an interview on June 17th with a group of English hooligans, at least one of whom was Category C. Apparently, since crossing the Channel was a problem, they’d come into France via Spain. Brilliant! The Old Bill outfoxed again, with devilish cunning. Thing is, if French journalists managed to track down and talk to these people, it seems a pity the authorities couldn’t manage it. At least it would have saved me a week of having to walk round apologizing to everyone I met for being English. Incidentally, they all were asked by L’Equipe what teams they support: QPR, Millwall, West Ham, Arsenal… do I detect a theme?
John Tandy , Birmingham
Is it a result of post World Cup excess or has anyone else spotted the similarity between the face in the sun on Teletubbies and Duncan Ferguson?
Olive Grove, Sheffield
In your editorial French Lessons in WSC No 138, you call Des Lynam and Tony Banks to task for sporting St. George Cross bowler hats during the World Cup, on the grounds that they were distributed by the Sun. The day before the England v Tunisia match in Marseille, the open-top double decker bus used by the Sun pulled up at the beach in Marseille that was the venue of the big screen (and the riot the following day). As we approached, the England Supporters band were blasting out their version of The Great Escape (as heard in English and continental football grounds throughout the previous season) and other “jingoistic” tunes. There was a crowd of people by the side of the bus singing, dancing and enjoying themselves. The crowd enjoying this entertainment was not just English, but included a large number of French and other nationalities, all clamouring for the plastic bowler hats being distributed. If your reporter had been in France to witness this, perhaps he would have been shocked at the amount of locals also aligning themselves with such “jingoism”. After a while, a group of Brazil supporters approached. Their behaviour, in WSC terms, was totally unacceptable. They were all dressed in the colours of their country, carrying large flags and playing nationalistic sambas on their instruments. They headed straight for the cluster of English supporters and…danced. And what did the English fans do? They danced with them. I am certainly not the world’s biggest supporter of the Sun, but this meeting of England and Brazil fans would not have been the same without their brand of “jingoism”. On the beach afterwards, when everyone had settled down to watch the Argentina v Japan match on the big screen, a vast proportion of the crowd, of all nationalities, were sporting their England bowler hats and talking with each other. I’m sure that, if you asked some of the locals present on that day their view of the English, you would receive a more positive response than those expressed after events the following day.
Andy Lopata, London NW4
From WSC 139 September 1998. What was happening this month