How the World Cup Uses Us and Wears Us Out

This may well be the first time that you hear Bobby Goldsboro talked about in the football column and it will almost certainly the last. Bobby, you may or may not recall is a singer who had a few hits in the 60s and 70s, one of which, “Summer (The First Time),” is a song which told the story of how a seventeen year-old boy is seduced by an older woman – a mere 32, mind – on a hot summer afternoon.

For a while because one of the lines says, ‘I looked in her eye and I swore it was winking’ I thought she was actually partially sighted. Here was lad getting it on with a one-eyed temptress. It all sounded good to me.

This song obsessed me as a pubescent 13 year old because it hinted at the unspoken mysteries of the adult world, of the sexual power of women and the power of the summer too; the heat being symbolic of other more groin-based passions. I imagined this was the birthright of every horny teenager; to be made into a man by a sweaty lass with a penchant for young meat.

‘Sweat trickled down, the front of her gown, and I thought it would melt her.’

Quite why she was wearing a ‘gown’ on a 110 degree day isn’t explained. No wonder she was sweating though, eh.

So it is that after every World Cup ends, I recall “Summer (The First Time)” because to me, every World Cup is like that summer love affair; a holiday romance. It starts out with so much passion and ends all too soon.

The post-World Cup feeling is a strange one. It is so all-consuming for four weeks and then as suddenly as it arrived it is gone, consigned to the history books. Those early days in the second week of June now seem an eon away. Days when there was still hope for England seem like distant, tragic delusions.

It is the intense, unique nature of the World Cup that gives it its power. If it happened more frequently, as has been proposed in the past, its exotic pulling power would be diminished.

She is an irresistible mistress who, over the space of four short weeks uses us up and wears us out. There’s a real feeling of being drained after the tournament has ended. We wander around our apartments and houses feeling something important has left us. We seek new routines and habits to replace those that had built up around the football.

And ahead lies a few short weeks of largely football-less living. We shall try and pretend those pre-season tournaments are really, really important and we shall follow the Intertoto Cup but it won’t be a substitute for the rich gravy of the World Cup. Even the Under 19s tournament which begins later this week won’t hit that sweet, sweet spot.

This was my 13th World Cup, the first being in 1966 and each one is like “Summer (The First Time)” and each time, in advance of the competition I forget at just how deeply I fall in love with her. In four years time, I dare say she’ll make a man of him all over again.


  1. Bill July 14, 2010
  2. Kevin July 14, 2010
  3. waves11 July 15, 2010

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