Today, the World Cup starts in Russia with the hosts taking on Saudi Arabia in the opening match. This signals the start of a 4 week period during which my family will have to indulge me as I consume a vast amount of football on TV and become an expert on such vital matters as the Peruvian defensive line up and whether or not Anice Badri should be in the starting XI for Tunisia.
However, as a lifelong England fan I have very low expectations for our progress in the tournament and over the years I have developed a number of coping mechanisms that will distract from England’s performance whilst still allowing me to enjoy the spectacle.
I am pleased to report that within the London office there are some kindred spirits so below is a guide to the UK Lithium teams World Cup preparation:
The office sweepstake (thanks for organising @LisaB!) is a staple for major sporting events and with only 32 countries involved in the tournament, this year we were oversubscribed. I landed Saudi Arabia who are currently showing odds of 2000 to 1 😐 which roughly equates to the same odds of me being selected to play for England at the next world cup in Quatar 2022.
But the good news is that in the Lithium version of the sweepstake there will also be prizes for the worst showing and biggest defeat, so I am hoping that Saudi Arabia get hammered by Uruguay on the 20th June.
For those less familiar, having purchased the Panini album you purchase the packs of stickers (players, team, logo photos) and put them in your album. If you get a duplicate you then build your pile of “swaps” and haggle with another collector for the stickers you need. Sticker fever is gathering pace in the office and negotiations are becoming more common which is good news because I have spent more money than is decent on new packs. Here are @MarieC and I mid-negotiation:
This is key – you don’t want to agree to attend a BBQ or family gathering only to realise a crucial game is at the same time. When England won the World Cup in 1966, my parents were at a wedding and I think my Dad held a grudge against that couple from then on.
Sadly I did not follow my own advice here for the group games and booked gig tickets for Englands opening match against Tunisia (a schoolboy error). So on the 18th June I found myself watching the 1st half on my phone outside the 02 with many other Pearl Jam fans with similar divided loyalties.
I will need to start scheduling my 2022 diary for the Quatar World Cup now.