Saturday, June 10, 2006


It was World Cup 1986. For everyone in India that should have been the first experience to watch live matches of World Cup Football since that was the first time we had TV coverage and that too, live! I did not have a TV at home then. There was only lackadaisical interest in TV since there were no worthwhile programs then. If at all there was one program which attracted every Tamil was the “light and sound” (ஒலியும் ஒளியும்) on Friday evenings. The rest were all in Hindi. Only from 1987, on the first day of Tamil month, Thai Tamil broadcasting came into being and we were ready to welcome it by buying a TV on 23rd Dec.,”86 itself.

So during the days of 1986 world cup I was thinking of all possibilities - whether to go to a friend’s house at 5 km distance or to choose some other spot. Luckily one of my neighbors was in earnest search for a viewing-partner. Even if Pele or Maradona plays what would be the interest unless a small group of football aficionados come together to watch a match. We found each other and made an arrangement. I would join him at 11pm or 11.10 pm, since the match started at 11.20. The ten minute gap was meant for us to discuss the teams, their strength and weakness and to predict the outcome of that day’s match. Then with rapt attention broken by intermittent shouts of ha’s, hoo’s and achachoo’s we would be absorbed for the next 45 minutes. Then the tea-break for us. We would be having a hot tea, banana and cigarettes. And of course analysis of the game with I-told-you-so would ensue before we plunge back into the game.

Watching these matches in the small screen was itself a very new experience since that was the first time we witnessed the work of graphics. Even the immediate play backs and umpteen number of angles covering a goal mouth melee were new to Indian viewers who would have watched only the tamashas shot at the studio interiors of Doordarshan – with the same set of stage-props for all countless serials. Hearing every time a commentator shouting - gooooooooooooal ! – would send a shiver to the whole body and psyche together.

Even before the tournament started, though we have not seen any world-level football till then, Brazil was our favorite team, since the love for Brazil is always attached to the fame of the all time great, Pele. One of the matches we remember was the match between England and Argentina, spear headed by the next-to-Pele, Maradona. The (in)famous hand-of-god goal of Maradona and the next goal by his solo effort from the midfield were memorable. The one thing I hate in football is the fate of any team getting decided by penalty shoot-outs. In every such situation my heart used to go to the loser, whichever team it could be. Umpire’s whistle for a penalty shoot out always sounds to me quite ominous. This time it was our favorite team, Brazil was destined to be defeated by France in a penalty shoot out. I still vividly remember the candid shots of sad faces from Brazil’s supporters in the audience – an old man, supporting his chin with his walking stick was unmindful of the tears running down his cheeks; a young Brazilian lass, bubbling with youthful energy till then, dancing and merry making during the game was now in total disarray, looking utterly crestfallen.

To compensate these sad tidings, we developed a liking for that pudgy workhorse, Maradona. All our support went for him and his team and we were happy at the end of the tournament since it was the final victorious team. Along the course, the English player Lineker also won our hearts, though not as much as Maradona.

1990 World Cup:
This time it was solo-watch at home and I remember the matches were in quite awful times, late nights or very early mornings. Most of the matches were watched in sleepy mood . Brazil remained the favorite team, and individually Maradona as the favorite player. Winner – Germany

That was almost immediately after my second heart attack. At the time of discharge –it was just a week or so prior to the championship - I asked the doc what are the dos and don’ts. One of the don’ts was seeing world cup, since I might become emotional which could hurt my week heart. That never deterred me. This time Ronaldo captured my imagination and the favorite team won the cup.

Very much disappointed with Ronaldo and the Brazilian team.

Ronaldinho became my favorite player. Japs got a soft corner with its captain, with his multi-colored hair!

Like any other time Brazil remains the favorite team, with Ronaldinho as its key player. The next favorite is Henry of French team.

DAY 1:
It seems games would be mostly played at 9.30 pm. Not bad. I think I have to skip the midnight timings for some matches.

Match I: (June 9th) Germany Vs Costa Rica – for long I have been thinking to identify this nation in the atlas. Should do it soon.
This game, the very first one in this championship, was a thorough anti-climax. Didn’t like the way the game went. Both the teams very much lacked positional play. When a Costa Rican player gets the ball, the Germans at least 3 of them will be crowding that guy. Bet before the game started was that for Germans it would be a walk over with 2 or 3 goal margin, that is, 2-0 or 3-0. But it was 4-2 which shows Germans in bad light.

The second match was between Ecuador and Poland. I don’t why my heart always go for the team with darker skin! Am I a racist; has to be so, always siding with the black-team (!) when the opponent is white. So also for Ecuador. They won 2-0. I watched the game 15 min. after the moiety. In the first half, Poland played with short passes and their opponents passed high balls. They scored once. But still in the second half they changed, I don’t know for what, their style and went for short passing as the Polish team.

Plan to add up further on daily basis. Let us see............


Orani said...


I remember till today where I was and how I got to see the 1984 world cup. As you said, it was very popular with TV broadcast and all that. I was doing my +2 and we used to go to the school's play ground and the school TV would be placed out side we all sit around watch the entire match. Great experience!

Your article at times brought me laughter. And of course, I made a time travel. Thanks for the article. Heart attach! :-(

sam said...

i very much appreciate the concerned people in your school who arranged TV for the students. 'coz, ours is a '
cricket country'!