Monday, 14 July 2008


The great New Yorker writer Roger Angell once wrote, when talking about the talents of the not terribly successful New York Mets baseball catcher Clarence “Choo Choo” Coleman, that “he is quick on the base paths, but then this is an attribute that is about as essential for catchers as neat handwriting”. This is all entirely apropos of nothing, save that it is my favourite quote on sports, and that on Wednesday night, in front of more than 25,000 in muggy, crumbling Arruda (the crowd so limited only by the closure of the stadium’s upper deck – had it been open, 40,000 might have elbowed their way inside), Santa Cruz forward Edmundo, who in his grizzled cragginess more resembles a down-on-his-luck garimpeiro (which means gold prospector - and there may never be a better metaphor than this for playing third division football for Santa Cruz), demonstrated that sometimes only one skill is required to make a lot of people very happy, provided it is not neat handwriting. If that skill is knowing exactly where to put your foot to a ball so that it enters a net between two white painted pieces of metal then so much the better. Edmundo scored two, Santa rudely brushed Central aside, at times with refreshing swagger, Juninho and Patrick and Gledson caught the attention, and towards the end of the second half, their minds having wandered from the game (which was largely over by then), 25,000 people spent twenty minutes or so clapping their hands above their heads and singing, e eu nao paro, eu paro nao, sou Santa Cruz, sou Tricolor de corocao, or in other words, I’ll never stop, I’ll never stop, I’m Santa Cruz, I’m Tricolor in my heart. (A small video clip of this is currently available on www.coralnet.com.br). It was an uplifting spectacle, so much so that when the old man in front of me turned I saw that his eyes were moist, though this may have been because the selling of beer has been prohibited inside Arruda as much as the emotion of the moment. Suffering allows great oaks to spread from small acorns of good tidings, and as we flooded into the streets afterwards, I and most everyone else present were willing to bet Edmundo’s handwriting is a calligraphic work of art as well.

Note: Though as surely as bitter divorce must follow every perfect wedding, all of the above is rendered singularly unimportant a few days later when the team travel to the city of Mossoro in Natal to play Potiguar. Mossoro is almost 600km of antidiluvian tracks and trails from Recife and I decide that this is an imposition too great, even (or especially) for the privilege of watching Santa Cruz. It is a wise decision. Edmundo seems to spend most of his time thinking about how to further beautify his penmanship and the rest of the team are dealt the same hiding given to legendary sertanejan bandit Lampiao and his gang by the townsfolk of Mossoro eighty four years ago. At the same time, rivals Sport, despised by every right thinking tricolor, defeat Nautico in the Recife classico and I am kept awake for much of the night by the tootling of celebratory car horns. This is not always a happy life, I am beginning to think.

2 comments:

e.o. said...

Cazá, cazá, cazá!

James Young said...

ah meu deus, sportinho no meu blog, ninguem merece.....