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Soup of This Day #359: As They Search The Night For Someone To Hold On To

February 2, 2014

Stadio Renato Dall'Ara
The Stadio Renato Dall’Ara in Bologna. The home stadium of local football outfit Bologna F.C. 1909, this stately bowl was also the scene for 1 of football’s most astonishing goals. It came in a 1994 World Cup qualifier, played in late 1993, between minnows San Marino and traditional giants England. San Marino has a population of around 30,000, and consequently couldn’t even field a national team until 1990. England by contrast invented the modern game of football in the 19th century and has somewhere around 50,000,000 people to call on. In spite of this Sammarese striker Davide Gualtieri took just 8.3s to score a goal, which remains the fastest ever World Cup score on record. Sadly for San Marino they then conceded the next 7 goals without reply. Neither they, nor England, were to qualify for the 1994 World Cup Finals – Photo: Udb, 2008. Udb is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

As I write this it is now officially Super Bowl Sunday throughout the continental United States. That mammoth football event, the 48th of it’s kind, is not the only Super Bowl on my mind though – I’m also thinking of 1 that features spaghetti bolognese.

When I was a poor starving student I used to eat a lot. That will sound a bit contradictory but it was all about the timing – I’d pretty much not eat for a couple of days because I didn’t have any money. Then I’d get money and, being a bit hungry, would eat these ridiculously large meals. My favourite for a time was spaghetti bolognese – Essentially 1 large packet of spaghetti, topped with a sauce that was comprised of half a kilo of beef mince, a tub of tomato paste and some sugar.

The resultant simple feast took up a lot of space in my stomach, but before then it took up even more space on my plate. Too much space even – I couldn’t find a dish big enough to hold my spaghetti mountain – The slightest movement to it’s quivering slopes would send a saucy avalanche careening down and into my beanbag.

We weren’t big on furniture back then.

So in order to save the beanbag I needed to find a receptacle big enough to contain my spaghetti bolognese. The solution was to use an extra large mixing bowl – 5L of capacity, my very own Super Bowl.

Of spaghetti bolognese.

It was a massive deal to sit down and consume this hot and tasty Super Bowl. I’m hoping that the football Super Bowl XLVIII that kicks off later today can match it.

Apart from the ‘hot’ bit. It’s unlikely to be warm out there.

Others, including Longworth72’s good blogging friend Sportsattitude have reasonably wondered in print at the wisdom of staging the showpiece game of American football in an outdoor stadium. In New Jersey. I’ll not dwell on that then but in light of the recent polar vortex that iced the US, and which caused some zoo’s polar bears to be taken off display because it was too cold for them, it’s worth asking if there are many takers for cold spaghetti?

Probably not.

In truth the forecast has warmed over the closing weeks but it is still expected to be low to mid 40s at kick-off. That’s around 3 to 7 degrees Celcius, so not really tropical, and sure to get chillier as the night progresses. Those who have handed over the $2,000 or so face value for the cheap seats will need to have kept a little aside for some extra thermal insulation. Meanwhile the average folk, ironically frozen out of attending by those exorbitant ticket prices, will no doubt be at home, free to snuggle up with a steaming bowl of spaghetti bolognese.

The crowd aside, there are some concerns that the cold will impact upon the quality of play. The chill in the fingertips can lead to a little less feeling in those extremities and consequently a little less surety in catching or carrying, particularly later (and colder) in the game. You’d expect that this will most adversely affect an offensive-minded team and in this Super Bowl, that means the Denver Broncos.

Or Peyton Manning’s guys as they are mostly known.

With the veteran superstar calling the shots, Denver has got through this season with the best offence in the league. That it has done so with a mostly no-name, no-frills catching corp just emphasises the Peyton Manning influence. Backing that up is the fact that the certain to be Hall of Fame thrower has this season notched up his 5th NFL MVP award.

None of that will matter to Peyton’s detractors on Monday if he doesn’t add his 2nd title ring to the 1 he got in 2007 playing for the Indianapolis Colts. Peyton, for all of his MVPs, all of his yards and all of his touch-down passes, will have under-achieved, they’ll cry. They were proclaiming that when Indianapolis delisted him in early 2012, with injuries seemingly convincing the Colts that it was time to move on in favour of stellar draft pick Andrew Luck.

Yep, Peyton got stiffed by good Luck.*

But Peyton got back on his horse, upgraded from a Colt to a Bronco, and in the process demonstrating that he’s still got what it takes to handle the wildest of rides. The truly great players you see are their own Luck. Or maybe a little better than that, based on Andrew not having made it to this Super Bowl.

Peyton’s big-game opponents for today though will be tough and he will need some good fortune of his own to see them off. This is because defence usually trumps offence, and Seattle has the former attribute down pat. So much so that they turned out the best defensive stats for the season – A record many attribute to the Legion of Boom (LOB), the Seahawk’s awesome defensive unit, and not as I had originally thought, a group of incompetent Roman military engineers from ancient times.

This modern LOB includes Richard Sherman. You may have heard of him. Or from him.

Sherman is a complicated dude according to this New York Times piece, a real Jekyll-&-Hyde. Which is good because 1-dimensional characters will find it hard to catch a football in 3-dimensional space. Otherwise, here at Longworth72, I’m kind of over the Sherman talk and I’m more wondering about how he helps to neutralise Peyton’s arm.

Likewise I’m not overly interested in hearing that Seattle running-back Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks dangerous offencive outlet, likes Skittles. There’s not a lot unusual about that – Skittles are a kind of candy. Generally candy is pretty popular with most people, except with the dental fraternity. And the dental fraternity are unlikely to tackle Lynch, who switches into ‘Beast-Mode’ on the field of play, which does sound a little ripped off from He-Man or She-Ra, but is otherwise just the last thing a dentist will want to hear – Most beasts often having fearsome gnashers and all.

What I am interested in is how this game will play out and whether it will be a good 1 to watch. That’s the rub in Super Bowls – There’s a lot of quality ingredients and a recipe for a good night in, but until you get stuck in you never know if it was worth the preparation time, or whether it was all just hyperbole.

Which I like to pronounce as Hyper Bowl, because I think it has more gravitas that way. Also I once used to make a Hyper Bowl of stir fry noodles that you would not believe…

Denver by 4 is my final call.

*Ok, so I’m a little late with the bad play-on-Luck’s-name but I still think I can cash in because Luck’s a fortune.

As They Search The Night For Someone To Hold On To

  1. First off thanks for the free publicity. If you can get ten more folks in your country to regularly read Sportsattitudes that will nicely balance out the ten regular readers I have stateside. As I type this the grocery stores in our area are under attack from all sides as the forecast for tonight into tomorrow is for 4-8 inches of heavy, wet snow. Mind you, the last couple of days have been beautiful with temperatures close to 50 and much melting as a result. The birds are out and about and they think spring has sprung. Wrong. And while the NFL has lucked out with a dry, tranquil day and night for the game itself good luck to those Super Bowl attendees and media…and teams…who try to get out of town on time Monday. Anyway, the stores are packed with people buying all sorts of goodies for the “Big Game” but when there is a threat of even a flurry of snow around here all heck breaks loose and the grocery store shelves will be bare any moment now. While I refrained from putting a prediction out on my site I will say I am motivated by your best guess to offer up…Denver winning…call it 28-17.

  2. And that’s why I don’t make predictions a habit. The Super Bowl was much less than Super.

    • Yep, my ‘Denver by 4’ call will remind me for years to come of my limitations. Apart from that, as a neutral it didn’t look the best advertisement for the game – That safety was ugly and set a sad marker for Denver. Kudos to Seattle who did what they do – Otherwise it was just a mismatch on the day.

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