Remembering Hearts and Heads

Ireland on the eve of Euro 2012 looks forward and back.
Share |
Portrait of the grandfather/absentee landlord as a young-ish man

Image via magliarossonera.it

Yesterday, Giovanni Trapattoni named the Republic of Ireland's squad for the European Championships, and this shit suddenly started to take on the hue of something approximating real. This is the fifth time our boys from the land of saints, scholars, and committed if technically limited footballers have qualified for a major tournament, and only the second time they've made the Euros. The first was under the management of Jack Charlton in 1988, when (as I'm not the first to note) they beat England when they should have lost, drew with the Soviet Union when they should have won, and lost to Holland when they should have drawn. The result was a narrow exit in the group phase, a justified heroes' welcome, and a mighty and prolonged dose of football fever. Whenever we qualified for a tournament thereafter, we drove ourselves gleefully delirious in the months beforehand, thus creating a precedent for all subsequent occasions.

This time, however, the build-up has lacked something. Maybe we're too distracted by the economy. Because of it, we are currently in a constant state of tetchiness (the Greeks apparently having stolen our anger). In a few weeks' time, we get to vote on whether to sign up to the European Fiscal Compact (the referendum question: "Alright, me little beauties: which direction do you want to get shafted from this time?"). It's not exactly thrilling stuff. But let's confine ourselves to sporting reasons here.

One such reason is that the team's qualification campaign was a strange one. The group stage was devoid of a single defining victory, a euphoric moment whose memory would forever evoke the glory of qualification. It's not that there were any sub-standard performances. In fact, the campaign comprised nothing but standard performances: they were unceasingly competent, relentlessly adequate. The normal rhythm of an Irish campaign—the ebb and flow, the despair and ecstasy—was absent. Some sub-standard performances might have broken the monotony. But slow and steady wins the participants' ribbon. Because of the poverty of Ireland's group, it also won us a playoff against Estonia. A 4-0 first-leg win was the first sign since the World Cup playoff against France in 2009 that this team was capable of elevating themselves above their basic standard. But it was only Estonia. It's not quite the same as beating Holland or Spain, or even drawing in Belfast.

This mediocrity sometimes seems like precisely the effect Trapattoni is aiming for. There's a certain streamlined grace to it, if you bang your head hard enough. The main aim of Trapattoni's Ireland is to be as a wall against which the opposition will bang their heads until they start to question just how much they want to break through. Containment is the key, and it rarely makes for attractive football. In the high days of the Charlton era, the team rarely played attractively either. But for them, the key was pressure, and such a nakedly combative style at least had a certain vigour to it. Trapattoni's style will reach its zenith when he can slow the other team down to a near-standstill, like molecules approaching absolute zero. The problem with that plan at the European Championships is that Ireland play Croatia, Italy and Spain, and they might be a wee bit too kinetic for our liking.

Trapattoni himself possesses a grandfatherly charm. But at the same time, there's something of the absentee landlord about him. A nation's plaintive pleas for its sentimental favourites—James McCarthy, James McClean, even Andy Reid, once upon a time—go either unheeded by Trap or ignored for for just long enough that we know he's not going to swayed by our wailing. And whether deliberately or not, his imperfect English acts as a shield against close scrutiny. Journalists come away from media conferences sure that he must have said something, if only they could figure out what it was.

But perhaps there's a bigger reason yet for the lead-up having been somewhat muted. It's hard to overstate (though some have tried) how big a deal the exploits of the Charlton team were in Ireland. The nation had never been brought together and taken on such a trip before. It was a profound and welcome shock, and immediately became a part of our national myth. When England won the 1966 World Cup, it took a generation for it to become fully nostalgiafied. When we did pretty well at the 1990 World Cup, we nostalgiafied it instantly. The way we watched the games of that era, the way we celebrated and felt, has become the template for how we've done so subsequently. But there's the problem. Twenty years ago, it was spontaneous. No one knew what the hell to do, but they knew they had permission to go crazy, so they did that. There was an innocence to it. Today, those who were there, man, are the grizzled veterans, and those who experienced the whole thing as giddy kiddywinks are now grown-ups who spend the hours and days before big games on YouTube watching Ronnie Whelan's shinner and Tony Cascarino's more-turf-than-ball penalty, and listening to "Put 'Em Under Pressure" while trying to pretend that it's just a very hot cup of coffee that's making them well up. (Not that I'm speaking from personal experience, you understand.) How we respond to the team's current success is viewed through how we responded in the old days. And they are the old days. Now there's a script to follow, and it's getting stale. Now, we consciously look to our footballers to lift us out of our national gloom. Back then, we didn't expect anything in particular. It just happened. It's all a little bit forced these days.

In one important way, the Charlton era is history. There is a whole generation of Irish people who have no first-hand memory of that time. Some hadn't been born yet. Some don't even remember the 2002 World Cup, let alone what went before it. Some of these people are adults, able to vote and have families and emigrate and everything. To them, the reminiscences of us old and not-so-old codgers are lovely and all, but they are of things that happened to other people.

But there's still something cool about the fact that the squad comprises so many players who were children of the Charlton era. At least there's been something to pass on to them. Charlton's teams were pioneers, doing what none of their predecessors had done. They inherited years of near misses and the occasional calamity. The current side have inherited the same, but with a large helping of success too. They have personally felt the pride that all this can beget, and how it can make an entire people radiate benignly for a few weeks. Now the responsibility is theirs, and they bear it gracefully. So as the memories themselves pass into unreality, the embodiment of those memories will be, with a bit of luck, creating new ones. We now know who those players will be, and it's all starting to become real again. There are 33 days until Ireland's first game. They can't pass quickly enough.


Share |

Comments

دانلود قسمت 11 یازدهم سریال عاشقانه رایگان, دانلود رایگان سریال عاشقانه, دانلود سریال جدید عاشقانه ایرانی دانلود سریال عاشقانه با لینک مستقیم, دانلود فیلم های جدید و برتر, دانلود رایگان فیلم و سریال با لینک مستقیم
دانلود قسمت 11 یازدهم سریال عاشقانه رایگان

دانلود قسمت 1 اول فصل دوم سریال شهرزاد, دانلود رایگان فصل اول و دوم سریال شهرزاد, دانلود سریال جدید شهرزاد , دانلود سریال شهرزاد با لینک مستقیم, دانلود فیلم های جدید و برتر, دانلود رایگان فیلم و سریال با لینک مستقیم
دانلود قسمت 1 اول فصل دوم سریال شهرزاد

2 week diet plan
I’m hapMany thanks for the exciting blog posting! Simply put your blog post to my favorite blog list and will look forward for additional updates. Simply wanted to write down a word in order to say thanks to you for those wonderful tips.

This one is great. keep doing awesome!.. cheap designer clothes

Kentucky Derby 2017
To say the truth I am very impressed by what you told. You share tons of interesting info, neat and excellent design you’ve got here. It’s certainly one of the most informative stuff on this topic I’ve ever read.

wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated.
visit techexclusive.net

Just pure brilliance from you here. I have never expected something less than this from you and you have not disappointed me at all. I suppose you will keep the quality work going on.
how much do you pay for an essay

Online Essays
I want you to thank for your time of this wonderful read!!! I definately enjoy every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff of your blog a must read blog!

Offering Free Home Eye Tests, We travel to an individual's home, residential and nursing homes. Covering the whole of Essex, Southend on sea, Colchester, Basildon, Grays & Chelmsford. You will always see the same friendly faces furthermore, none of our opticians work on a commission base. Meaning that there is no hard sale or pressure. Mobile Opticians that comes to you! Templeman Opticians, an opticians based on you. home visit opticians

This post is probably where I got the most useful information for my research . http://www.signalboosteruk.co.uk

buy instagram views
I have browsed most of your posts. This post is probably where I got the most useful information for my research

Im no master, however I trust you simply made a fantastic point. You unquestionably completely comprehend what youre talking about, and I can really get behind that. discover more here

This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for sharing this great article! That is very interesting Smile I love reading and I am always searching for informative information like this!
WordPress themes

I might want to say this online journal truly persuaded me to do it! Much obliged, great post. tattoo supply

Internet websites online, exactly where a single can find custom-made defensive get more info as example.2001 4runner car covers

I believe that everything has been portrayed in methodical way with the goal that peruser could get most extreme data and realize numerous things. ready-to-wear fashion

Exceptionally pleasant article, I appreciated perusing your post, extremely decent share, I need to twit this to my adherents. Much appreciated!. Verdek DC Fast Chargers

which direction do you want to get shafted from this time?"). It's not exactly thrilling stuff. But let's confine ourselves to sporting reasons here.uTorrent Pro 3.4.5 Crack

This type of message always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content, so happy to find good place to many here in the post, http://lunaghazing.tumblr.com/

I wish more writers of this sort of substance would take the time you did to investigate and compose so well. I am exceptionally awed with your vision and knowledge. escorts lebanon

Amazing site, Distinguished criticism that I can handle. Im pushing ahead and may apply to my present place of employment as a pet sitter, which is exceptionally charming, however I have to extra extend. Respects. lebanon escorts

Incredible Information sharing .. I am exceptionally glad to peruse this article .. a debt of gratitude is in order for giving us experience info.Fantastic pleasant. I welcome this post. health public relations

A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing us. školenie zamestnancov

World Cup playoff against France in 2009 that this team was capable of elevating themselves above their basic standard. But it was only Estonia. It's not quite the same as beating Holland or Spain, or even drawing in Belfast.comment jouer a minecraft |
psn free code

I can set up my new thought from this post. It gives inside and out data. A debt of gratitude is in order for this profitable data for all,.. full report

Thanks for the post and great tips..even I also think that hard work is the most important aspect of getting success more tips here

Marvelous and fascinating article. Incredible things you've generally imparted to us. Much obliged. Simply keep making this kind out of post. site web

A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing this data. I truly like your blog entry all that much. You have truly shared an educational and intriguing blog entry with individuals.. continued

Love what you"re doing here folks, keep it up!.. homepage here

Somebody Sometimes with visits your online journal routinely and prescribed it as far as I can tell to peruse also. The method for composing is brilliant furthermore the substance is first rate. A debt of gratitude is in order for that knowledge you give the perusers! more Info

I simply discovered this site and have high trusts in it to proceed. Keep up the considerable work, its elusive great ones. I have added to my top picks. Much thanks to You. top florida pr firms

I am glad to locate your recognized method for composing the post. Presently you make it simple for me to comprehend and execute the idea. Much obliged to you for the post. more help

I truly delighted in perusing this post, enormous fan. Keep doing awesome me when would you be able to distribute more articles or where would I be able to peruse more on the subject? more

Your site is truly cool and this is an incredible rousing article. Much thanks to you to such an extent. discover more

A debt of gratitude is in order for another superb post. Where else might anybody be able to get that sort of information in such a perfect method for composing? site web

Incredible Information sharing .. I am exceptionally glad to peruse this article .. a debt of gratitude is in order for giving us experience info.Fantastic pleasant. I welcome this post. cool iphone 6 plus cases

Wow what a Great Information about World Day its exceptionally pleasant educational post. a debt of gratitude is in order for the post. escort in beirut

greetings was simply checking whether you minded a remark. i like your site and the thme you picked is super. I will be back. myaccountaccess card

I needed to thank you for this fabulous read!! I certainly cherished each and every piece of it. I have you bookmarked your site to look at the new stuff you pos froggy

Incredible Information sharing .. I am exceptionally glad to peruse this article .. a debt of gratitude is in order for giving us experience info.Fantastic pleasant. I welcome this post. iphone 7 wood bamboo cases

Through this post, I know that your good knowledge in playing with all the pieces was very helpful. I notify that this is the first place where I find issues I've been searching for.FOREX BROKER

A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. sattamatka

Incredible Information sharing .. I am exceptionally glad to peruse this article .. a debt of gratitude is in order for giving us experience info.Fantastic pleasant. I welcome this post. escort in beirut

I'm happy I discovered this site, I couldn't discover any learning on this matter earlier to.Also work a website and in the event that you are ever keen on doing some guest composing for me if conceivable don't hesitate to tell me, im dependably search for individuals to look at my site. HONEST FOREX SIGNALS

Simply respecting your work and thinking about how you dealt with this online journal so well. It's remarkable to the point that I can't bear to not experience this significant data at whatever point I surf the web! read more here

Impressive web site, Distinguished feedback that I can tackle. Im moving forward and may apply to my current job as a pet sitter, which is very enjoyable, but I need to additional expand. Regards. aquarium maintenance

Much obliged to you for the upgrade, exceptionally pleasant site.. xxxxx

I needed to thank you for this fabulous read!! I certainly cherished each and every piece of it. I have you bookmarked your site to look at the new stuff you pos tattoo supply