football talk from boxing day

(Think of this, if you like, as the post from the 27th, celebrating a particularly pleasing outing of the traditional Boxing Day football and some truly excellent  football talk. Unfortunately the last two days haven’t lent themselves to celebration, but football talk does not date easily.  Indeed you may almost say it is timeless, which is one of the reason sports can be a comfort in times of trouble.  This blog will resume in the new year, and I sincerely hope it will be a better one for all of us than the one that is dwindling away.  I’ll be spending the next few days watching the football.)

Boxing Day, of course, is the day after Christmas, and it is celebrated in England with a full slate of football matches in the Premier League.  The first on the list, starting at 6:30 am here in the States, featured my personal team, Tottenham, at “home” at Wembley  vs. Southhampton.  I watched the taped version at a more civilized hour, and was delighted to find it was called by Peter Drury at the very top of his rhetorical game.  Here are a few samples from my notebook:

  • “Sometimes you just have to applaud the football.”
  • On a potential penalty: “He gets nothing of the ball and plenty of the man.”
  • “Only the most hardhearted were willing that [shot] to miss.”
  • “A lovely way to finish the half, a half both routine and record breaking”
  • And on Harry Kane, Hotspur’s sublime young forward, who got his second hat trick in a week: “What will history write of Harry Kane, when, eventually, a million goals from now, it is all over?”

And let’s close the blog for year with Drury’s “set piece” paragraph from the beginning of the game, transcribed in several passes from restarts of the recording.  Whatever it is that you want to keep pure and strong in your own memory, may it stay ever green.

“Well, whoever you are and whatever your tradition, this is for you a special time of year.  I do hope that you can join us in feeling this: Wembley Stadium, a sharp, bright Boxing Day morning: all the old sensations, the buzz and the blur, the unique thrill of our proud holiday fortnight.  Let no one, please let no one ever take this away.”


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