Sunday, 31st July, 2022

[Day 867]

Today is going to be a day dominated by sports news as the Commonwealth Games are proceeding apace and at 5.00pm this evening, England will play Germany in the UEFA women’s football finals. But first things first. Being a Sunday, I collected our newspaper first thing this morning and then Meg and I breakfastd on cereal as we normally do on Sunday mornings. Miggles the cat turned up for a plateful of food for the first time in about ten days so we at least we’re not forgotten. The weather looked as though it was going to threaten us with rain so we decided to play it a little bit safe and go down to the park by car, also making sure we had some rainproof outerwear on in case we were subject to a sudden downpour. As we were a little earlier than is normal, we were not particularly surprised not to bump into any of our regulars. In any case, we needed to get back fairly early because I was due to go to the railway station at about midday in order to pick up my son who had been minding a house for his sister-in-law and her husband in Hertfordshire, which is an engagement which is undertaken every year. After we had returned home and had an early lunch, we watched in its entirety a mixed relay Triathlon. There are four members in each team, two male and two female. Each athlete has to first cold-water swim 300m, then undertake a 5km bike ride and finally run a 2km walk. Apart from these three events following each pther, the competitors have to ‘transition’ i.e. change from event to the next observing very strict protocols about where they should dismount their bike, for example. The England team got off to a flying start and perhaps the gold medal was never in doubt but there is always the possibility of things going wrong such as your bike getting a puncture. Much more exciting was the battle for silver or second place. At on time, the Welsh female runner on the last leg was about a couple of yards behind the Australian runner with the New Zealand runner breathing down her neck and in a good position to overtake. In the event, the Australian and the Welsh runner put on a spurt and put some distance between themselves and the New Zealand competitor. Evntually the Australian and the Welsh girl seemed to be running shoulder to shoulder but eventually the Welsh athlete managed to gain an edge and subsequently with the silver medal quite easily (but somewhat unexpectedly).

Late this afternoon we had the European Womens Cup Final between England and Germany. The two sides were very evenly matched but then about half way through the second half, England took the lead with a well-timed lob over the German goalkeeper. But could they hold on until the end of the game? The answer was no because just before the end of the game, the Germans scored a well deserved equaliser. So the game was destined for extra time. Normally in football matches, whoever scores the equaliser goes on to score a final and decisive goal and I was convinced this was going to happen on this occasion. Neither team made much impression upon their opponents in the first period of extra time. In the second period of extra time, England managed to score after a goalmouth scramble from a corner kick which the Germans failed to clear and then the England team had to hang on for about another ten minutes until the final whistle. They did ‘game manage’ this part of the match brilliantly by taking short throw-ins and then making sure that when tackled by a German defender the ball would bounce out for another throw in – all of which wastes precious seconds. So the final scoreline was Englnd 2 – Germany 1 but in all honesty, the game could really have gone either way. It is not that England were lucky to win but that it was a game of incredibly tight margins. The Germans have won this particular competition on nine previous occcasions and when they lost, they seemed to take defeat incredibly hard. The celebrations on the pitch went on for about an hour what with the formal presentations, the parading of the trophy around the pitch, innumerable TV interviews and so on. No doubt, tomorrow morning there will be masses of headlines to the effect that the ‘lionesses have roared’. But some of the football pundits were speculating that after this success, the shape of women’s football in England will have been dramatically changed and we may well see that girl’s football will now be much more prominent in the school curriculum.

The Sunday Times analysis of the Conservative party ‘race’ to be party leader was interesting,in a way. There a huge double page spread given to the contest but one quarter of one page (i.e. one eight of the double page spread) was devoted to Rishi Sunak and the remainder (i.e. seven eighths) to Liz Truss. This is hardly and fair and equal treatment but I suppose the Sunday Times has decided who the winner is going to be and thrown in their weight behind the likely winner. If I were part of the Sunak camp (which I am not!), I imagine I would rather peeved by this absence of equal coverage but politics is not a fair game in any event.