Tuesday, 18 November 2008

A Midweek Trip to Hampden

I enjoy following the national football team, and try to get to Hampden in Glasgow for each home game. I don't have the time or inclination to follow club football, so the international game - with half a dozen games a year and a party atmosphere - is perfect for a part-time fan like me.

Normally, a midweek trip to Hampden in November for a non-competitive friendly game would be a test of loyalty, and the atmosphere at friendlies is always subdued compared to competitive matches. But tomorrow's game will be different. Firstly, it is against Argentina - one of the true giants of world football, and so a once-in-a-generation chance for the likes of me to see one of the best teams in the world in the flesh.

Secondly, it is Maradona's first game in charge of Argentina. Maradona is lionised across the globe as one of the best (Argentinians would say the best!) football players ever. However in Scottish football folklore he is famed for another reason. During the run up to Argentina's 1986 World Cup win, Argentina - driven by an inspired Maradona - put England to the sword. The English were extremely sore about this, as they said Maradona's first goal was a handball:

"Was it handball?" asked the press after the game. Maradona shrugged, and grinned. "A little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God," he replied. A legend was born in Scotland. I remember at the time that Argentina tops outnumbered Scotland ones on the streets. I felt then it was a little childish. It still is, but that is part of the fun.

It will be strange going to Hampden tomorrow, feeling for once as excited to see the opposition as to cheer on Scotland!


mcgazz said...

I'm not having a go at the English, but the fact that the media here can't *ever* mention Maradona without making a reference to the "hand of God" comes across as major sour grapes. Maradona pretty much won the 1986 World Cup single-handedly (pardon the pun) and it's not like England had a chance against Argentina, dubious goal or not.

Robert Craig said...

Well, that's the last time I drive for a midweek evening game! Traffic was dreadful.

Sounds McGazz like the English media, as well as the Scottish fans, have long memories.

Billy said...

His second goal that day was outstanding, but I actually stopped supporting Argentina when he handled the ball.

Maradonna commented on Terry Butcher's refusal to shake his hand by pointing out England won the world cup with a non goal. Perhaps he was trying to endear himself to the Scots fans, but given how no matter who england play, 1966 keeps getting a mention, it had to be said.