Trinidad dig in for dream draw
By Oliver Kay
Trinidad & Tobago 0 Sweden 0
WHATEVER HE HAS ACHIEVED AS A footballer, Dwight Yorke has always come across as someone whose biggest highs came away from the pitch. The playboy image is one he has done little to play down, save for during that annus mirabilis with Manchester United, but finally, having found a cause worth fighting for, he has rediscovered the kind of joys that only sport can bring.
Saturday in Dortmund brought a Trinidad & Tobago performance that astounded on many levels — the heroics of Shaka Hislop, who had been brought in at the last minute; the resilience of a couple of centre halves from Gillingham and Wrexham; the cavalier tactics of Leo Beenhakker, the coach, after he had had a player sent off — but no less remarkable was the sight of Yorke, reinvented as a holding midfield player and with his familar smile replaced by a determined grimace as he cajoled his team-mates towards a result the significance of which far transcends the state of play in group B.
Now there’s a headline our American cousins might never understand. That’s right, a dream 0-0 draw.
The Trinidad & Tobago fans went mental at the final whistle. Just imagine what will happen if they score a goal.
A standing joke in Britain (which Budweiser are milking in their ‘You do the football, we’ll do the beer’ ads –actually, we’d prefer to do the beer as well, thanks) is the hypothetical American millionaire trying to ‘improve’ the game by making the goals ten times bigger, introducing scoring zones, making draws illegal or any other artificial mechanism for ensuring games finish 15-13 rather than 1-0.
In other words, making the beautiful game more like that most excruciatingly tedious (and interestingly, uniquely pure American-origin) sport, basketball.
But beauty is only the most superficial of football’s pleasures. A key part of football’s worldwide appeal is that the goal is still one of the highest-value currencies in sport.
Basketball reminds me of people who swear constantly. If everything gets a cuss, there’s no impact when something really deserves it. How anyone can be bothered to cheer one ‘basket’ amongst so many is beyond me.
Football, meanwhile, is about long periods of frustration, tension and brooding terror, interspersed with rare moments of genuine ecstasy. And the rarity is crucial. Cricket is my favourite sport for its own sake, but nothing beats the sudden, explosive, deafening roar of a crowd when the home team scores. Wonder goals are best, but even scruffy, bundled own-goals do the trick.
The same goes for denying the opposition a precious goal, especially when it's against all the odds. Hence the Trinidadian delight at 0-0.
Drubbing a hapless bunch of no-hopers like the Faroe Islands 8-0 is no fun at all. But scraping agonisingly past Argentina 1-0 thanks to a dodgy penalty – now that’s what what I call sport.