Today Fred is as of Saturday evening quite baffled and absolutely puzzled.
All because, much to his surprise and astonishment, I jumped up in joy with Chelsea’s win in the Champion’s League Final.
Yes, I’m talking about soccer Men's ultimate frontier.
Do I understand the game? For me it’s eleven men against other eleven and the objective of the game is to put the ball in the opposing team’s goal.
The ball can be played with any part of the body except the arms and the game stops whenever the referee blows the whistle based solely on a personal and subjective judgment of what he’s just witnessed.
Any further complexity I don’t deem necessary to know about. Fred has explained to me countless times the offside rule, and countless times I just smilingly nod my head until he subsides into a pleasant silence.
And when he begins to get quite uptight and starts to qualify both the referee and his next of kin with hardly complimentary adjectives, I just say something like “Please do try and be a little more understanding with the gentleman, dear… after all even you confuse a Golden Retriever with a Labrador, don’t you?”
It puzzles his line of thought and always results in soothing his anger away.
Do I like the game? No, I don’t. But the same way Fred pretends to enjoy Grey’s Anatomy, I return the favour by pretending to be enthusiastic with the “important games”.
As in any European household where one has a “SY” in the trousers (Fred came up with the expression after the humiliating show put up by SY’s Redwood during the 2012 Maddie Silly Season by saying “Now, there’s one detective that really deserves to be called a d*ck!”) the Champion’s League Final is mandatory to be watched by all present in our house.
This year, however, it was different. I sat before the telly not because of Fred but because of myself and, as I’ll try to explain, because of the Maddie Affair.
It started with the semi-finals between Chelsea and Barcelona.
I watched it with the ingenuity of the simplest. I saw that although the Catalans, clearly a superior team, lost a million opportunities to score, Chelsea won the game.
Then a week later the show was almost repeated in Spain, only this time the game ended not in a win for Chelsea but in a draw.
As lover of Justice, it got me thinking how unfair this sport was. It seemed to reward the weaker and punish those who risked to win.
This is explained by the fact that the minimal difference of 1 is all that is required to win a soccer game. A single goal is decisive.
A goal is scored in less than 20 seconds, and that is already extending the time that effectively takes to make a thing called a “play”, which is but a choreography of planned and unplanned movements made between and by the players involved with or without the ball to the moment it passes the goal line.
A soccer game has, supposedly, 90 minutes, or 5,400 seconds. In less than 20 seconds, that is less than 0.37% of the playing time, a game is won and is lost.
This means that one team can “stall” for 99.63% of the time and come out the winner.
Is this unjust? No, it’s not.
It may, which its not, be unfair, but certainly is not unjust.
The rules are known to both, and playing defensively is a “legal” option, nothing wrong with it.
Is it even unfair? No, it also isn’t.
It’s a tactical option to not allow the other team to play as far as I can understand.
It may not be a pretty way to play a game but it certainly isn’t unjust or unfair if those who are only concentrating on not allowing the others to play, end up winning the game.
But what has this to do with Chelsea, the Maddie Affair and my enthusiasm for yesterday’s victory?
It has to do with the outstanding combativeness always shown by Chelsea.
It should set an unforgettable example for us White Hats.
Chelsea proved to be a cat not with seven lives, nor with nine, but with eleven or more. They tried time and time again to “kill” it, and it came out with the Cup secured in its claws.
I first heard them “pronounced dead” when I sat to watch the first leg of Chelsea vs Barcelona, Fred quipped “they haven’t the faintest idea how they got this far, so we’re in for a slaughter tonight…”
They not only survived, but came out winners.
A week later, another pronouncement: “hell, they were unbelievable lucky here… I’m not seeing how they will survive there”… they survived, and the mighty Barcelona went home to pack, although they were already at home…
Then yesterday, a pronouncement again, and the game hadn’t even started: “They’re going to be clobbered. The Germans beat Real Madrid and Chelsea has half of their team punished…”
At half time, Fred, the soccer expert within our marriage, was confident, although against his own want, that the second half would be the “bloody battleground” filled with “Chelsea corpses” so much anticipated but yet to be fulfilled…
Then, at the end of the game came the fatal blow when the Germans scored. Fred grimaced and said “if they’d just hold for another ten minutes… poor chaps… they did more than was expected from them…”
But from the “dead” did they come back with that goal just before the final whistle.
The “cat” continued fighting. Proved to have the many lives like any "decent cat" should.
They had just come back to life when they were again mortally wounded with the penalty against them in overtime.
Fred, in complete consternation, was pale with anguish, mourned the predicted outcome… but back to life sprang the cat! The Penalty was defended!
With the overtime over, Fred, always the optimist Fred, “Oh no! Now it’s really over…” when in the penalty shootout Chelsea missed the first one… The “cat” had “died” again.
It didn't take long to resuscitate yet again, when the Germans missed one, licked its paws clean when the Germans missed another, and calmly went to pick up the Cup when Chelsea scored the decisive one.
How many times had Chelsea been condemned to doom? Did you have the patience to count?!?
What’s the parallel with the Maddie Affair?
Chelsea faced “bigger and better” opponents who, because of their favouritism, benefited from a much “friendlier” media.
But Chelsea never gave up the fighting. They played loyally, within the rules, within the “boundaries” of the game. And against all odds, have come out as winners, "countless" times after being ruled off as the losers!
That’s the example they should be to us. How many times have we’ve been disenchanted? How many times have we felt we’ve “lost the game” because our opponents have it all and we have nothing? How many times have we been doomed as losers by "the establishment"?
They may seem to have it “all”, but they don’t have it. The will to continue fighting until that final whistle blows is yours, and it’s only up to you if you want to give it up.
Chelsea didn’t. Underdogs do bite!