New Zealand 0, USA 4
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland, June 3 2015
In loving memory of a football tragic, who died a tragic death yesterday.
Lover of football, cricket, writing, photography, social democratic politics and Siamese cats – he will be sorely missed by the many who knew him.
Little did he know, as he pulled into the carpark near North Harbour Stadium last night, that the FIFA Under 20 World Cup game he was attending would be his last. He had been to hundreds of football matches in recent years, and at many of them he had looked danger in the face and lived to tell the tale, but on this occasion his fate was finally sealed.
Crossing the Albany Expressway in a thunderstorm was never a particularly bright idea. With lightning cracking all around him, walking out into an open space where you are the tallest thing inside a 100 metre radius is the sort of thing that earns you a Darwin Award. But he was dedicated to the cause of football, and despite this colossal act of stupidity, miraculously, it isn’t what killed him in the end.
He arrived at the stadium soaking wet. The option was there to sit in the Media Centre, or under the cover of the grandstand, and enjoy the game in relative shelter. But instead he foolishly chose to take his place on a soaking wet wooden photographer’s bench behind the Southern goal line with a cold wind ripping down the ground. It blew straight through his wet clothes and chilled him to the bone. The resulting hypothermia should have killed him, but miraculously this was not his eventual cause of death.
It was watching the USA team dribble, pass, and generally run rings around their New Zealand opponents like they were garden gnomes, at break neck pace and with oodles of youthful exuberance, that brought on the severe dizzy spells and splitting headaches – but miraculously that wasn’t what finally did him in either.
Before the final blow, he was almost decapitated numerous times by dozens of speeding footballs fired at the New Zealand goal like cruise missiles aimed at Baghdad. It was only a matter of time before one of them clocked him square on the side of the head. But, miraculously, they all missed.
Then came the sudden and acute shocks brought on by the first, second, third and fourth unanswered USA goals that rocked him to his All White supporting core. But the human body is an amazing thing, and miraculously he survived all of those too.
But then, despite beating the odds and somehow managing to survive all of those life threatening situations, it finally hit him. The soul destroying knowledge that this USA team is so sharp, so talented, and so impressive, that this could mean only one thing… When these players graduate, the senior USA side might actually become good enough to be serious contenders in an actual World Cup one day soon. It was this deeply shocking revelation that finally sent him to meet his maker.
May he rest in peace.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you stand up for workers in Qatar.
A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/