At many levels the connection with football is emotional. Consider the Wembley. English football before it went down the tubes. Makes one sentimental. I very nearly flew to London for the weekend to get back in time for Monday when the English women played Germany at the Wembley to a record attendance of 45,619 on November 23, 2014; as a precursor to the Women’s World Cup 2015 (WWC15). Alas, reality intervened and I never got there. Still some things remain in our football memory if you’ve lived long enough and remember. English football and the Wembley. Icons. Some half dead. But the English women have revived these symbols with a new spirit and sincerity this WWC15. And thinking of when they meet Canada’s women on Saturday other emotions surface.
Unlike England where football runs deep, Canada as I’ve said before will never fully embrace football leave alone touch it with a barge pole; not even if we win this tournament though that is a long ball. But put that aside for a day or four. Let us look at the here the now. The Canadian team and coach Herdman have got quite the bashing in the papers. Cathal Kelly (see Link below) rightly opined that Sinclair, Mathesan et al have had their last hurrah and why they needed to make way for others. True that. One factor justifying the bashing is the age of the seniors. Sinclair is 32. Well beyond prime time for footballers. Old. Matheson’s long injury and Sincy’s lack of strikes, leave alone goals except the one at expense of truth in China v Canada. So when Switzerland played Canada at knock out stages last Sunday most expected Canada to lose for the same reasons they were getting bashed in the press. It all seemed so rational.
I’ve always kept a safe distance from the Canada team and its seasonal fans. Flavour of the month fandom is not my thing. Especially when hardworking women doing double triple duty from poor countries do more with far less despite scoreless ends. It was also a nice bit of fun bashing Canada, a non-football nation. Always get a kick out of that. It’s ok. You can go har dee ha. I went along on that bus for the ride. At worst I was being a jerk and at best it gives my opinions some objectivity.
Fact is as we bashed and salivated wishing a banishment we forgot that women are survivors. They cook something up with the little they’ve got. The good, the not so good, the old and the wily. 0-0 at half-time and an energetic Swiss side on the prowl it looked like Canada’s goose was cooked. I just wanted it to be over once and for all and put an end to press-bashings not to mention the boring seasonal fandoms. I’d given up on Canada in more ways than football. But then women as women do cobble something together. Somehow. That’s nothing revolutionary. It is what women do.
It was not Rhian Wilkinson’s cross into the box which won the match. It was that old wily Sincy’s sweet little tap to Belanger at 52’; that wily tricky tap pulled out of the air like a rabbit out of an invisible hat that birthed that goal. And we were 1-0 and into the quarter finals and I ain’t gonna let the great saves made by Erin McLeod take that away from old Sincy. A magic tap that fed my emotions for a team I’d kept at arm’s length.
https://twitter.com/richardfarley/status/612782512465661952 [Update below]
Which brings us back to England. England plays Canada on Saturday in Vancouver in the quarter finals. The winner advances to the semis. I will be cheering for England. The land of Shakespeare, cricket and the Wembley and other twisted and bitter sweet emotional attachments. But a part of my heart will still owe a debt of gratitude to Sincy for that wily tap on the ball placing Canada in the quarters. A magic spark that lit up this tournament for a troubled lopsided team in a sterile and cold cold country. A moment of fire which I will remember forever. Thank you Sincy. One day someone will put that moment in a statute of you in bronze. I know we will. We aren’t that cold.
June 26, 2015
With thanks to Mr. Richard Farley, @richardfarley.
Update re GIF by Richard Farley. This was removed from twitter due to formalities. But caption says everything.
Cathal Kelly: In The Globe and Mail, June 19, 2015 – Canada owes a lot to Christine Sinclair, but she isn’t the key to this tournament. Link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/soccer/canada-owes-a-lot-to-christine-sinclair-but-she-isnt-the-key-to-this-tournament/article25042365/