Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sporting Admissions from the Past

From February 13, 2016:
An Admission 46 Years Later (Emotional Football)

Something has been bugging me lately: I've been prone to tossing and turning at two or three o'clock in the morning, unable to sleep, because I did a certain "bad" almost forty-six years ago.

In June of 1970 my family and I were visiting relatives in Bristol, UK; that month the 1970 FIFA World Cup was being played, or rather, resolved, in Mexico. On the 14th of June, England matched with West Germany as part of the quarter-finals round and I watched this contest on television, live and in colour, with my British cousins. (This was just the year after the Beeb switched to colour broadcasting). All is fine in my admissions thus far.

The problems start now: I was rooting for West Germany. Needless to say, appreciating the Brits' pride for their national football team, I kept my cheers a private matter. Even at such a young age I was hyper-aware that in the interest of self preservation it would be prudent of me to keep any elation to myself: I was contained in a room with British supporters; off-side behaviour of any colour could be bloody dangerous!

West Germany went on to win the match by a score of 3-2 and I was a happy young man.

Shortly after returning to West Germany, a German might have asked me: "Schadenfreude?"

"Me? No. For a reason of which I am not aware, known only to the recesses of my still-developing brain, I chose to support the Germans."

"Sie sind ein gutes Deutsch."

Perhaps.

Knowing the English football fans' predilection for being unwilling or unable to let certain histories "go", and having more than a few British relatives of my own, I decided to withhold this sensitive bit from my past. Only now am I able to come to terms with my Yellow Card.

I doubt – hope – they'll ever stumble upon this posting.

___


From March 18, 2016
An Admission 45 Years Later (Maple Leafs Forever)

On Saturday, February the 13th , I came clean by making a long awaited admission of misplaced support from 1970.

Today I will admit something about "misplaced support" from 1971.

In April of that year, deep in the National Hockey League playoffs, I, for some bizarre and inexplicable reason, was hopeful for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team in eternal question was playing against the New York Rangers, a good, solid club, and one coached by the great Emile Francis.

The date was April 15th, it was game 6 of the quarter final round between these two members of the "original six". The Rangers led the best-of-seven series by three games to two.

Overtime: This match, tied at 1-1, was resolved with venomous brutality when a Rangers player (Jean Ratelle? Walt Tkaczuk?) scooted down the ice over the Leafs blue-line, through a hapless Leafs defenceman (Jim McKenny?), and snapped off a quick shot. Goaltender Jacques Plante shot out his right leg, he stretched out his toes, but failed to stop or deflect the smoking disc-shaped piece of vulcanized rubber from fulfilling its Nomad-like programming. The next event was more acoustic in nature; the sound of what happens after a speeding 6-ounce hockey puck motions past a Leafs goalie at such a critical time in the NHL season. "Clank!!!"

(Forever Futility.)

I did my job quite well: I was a pro. I (got a wee bit upset).

My dad laughed, no doubt amused by a hockey-loving kid who had yet to snap out of a silly phase. I can still picture him, to my right, getting a kick out of my "upset". Translation: "Kid, it's just a bleedin' game. It means absolutely nothing in and among the grand schemes of life." (My dad was right, of course; except when his beloved Habs lost.)

For decades I've asked myself the question: "Why?" Not the question of why a Leafs goalie would fail to stop or deflect an ice hockey puck, which even an answer of "42" could not explain away, but why I would waste allegiances on a total, complete, absolute, non-achiever. This memorable match had played out mere weeks after my 10th birthday, and after the Leafs team began to brush up on all the interesting local golf courses and beer halls, I would, in guided prescience and with great leaps of maturation, shoot my affections to the Montreal Canadiens. This would pay off -- sorry for the spoiler, young ones -- and my reaction this time around would be one of: Joy.

Toronto-based sports journalist Peter Gross reported on the wireless this morning that the Toronto Maple Leafs are just one loss away from being "mathematically eliminated" from making the playoffs this year.

This cynic must admit: That loosey-goosey sports organization has been improving since 1971. By way of avoiding playoff games on a regular yearly basis they spare many a 10-year-old from having certain hopes and, more importantly, breakdowns. And from having anything of relevant interest to write about 45 years later.

(Replay: "Claaaaank"!)


No comments: