Monday, 19 July 2010


Heard while listening to Recife´s leading news and sport radio station, which we might call Radio Maracatu, in the aftermath of Santa Cruz´s disastrous 1-0 defeat by CSA of Alagoas, which probably means the team with the biggest support in the nordeste will spend another year (their third) amidst the horrors of Serie D, also known as the fourth division of the Brazilian league championship:

Commercial for medical assistance with erectile disfunction/premature ejaculation fades into background...

Presenter Eric (not his real name): So, did you go the game today Eddie?

Presenter Ernie (also not his real name): No Eric, not today, I spent the afternoon on the sofa listening to my beloved friends at Radio Maracatu commentating from the stadium.

Eric: How beautiful, Ernie, how beautiful! Now listen to this Ernie, because it just goes to show the difference between Brazilian footballers and footballers in other countries.

Ernie: Now you mustn´t generalise Eric...

Eric: Generalise, no, of course not, but you know, it just goes to show.

Ernie: Well that still sounds like generalising, but go on....

Eric: So Cristiano Ronaldo, he gets some girl pregnant, and what does he do, he tries to give her R$10 million to keep schtum, which, well, you know, isn´t exactly responsible parenting, it´s a bit naughty, but...

Ernie: But it´s better than cutting her head off and feeding her to his dogs, isn´t it, Bruno!

Eric: Exactly, exactly! Better than cutting her head off and feeding her to the dogs like our friend Bruno!

Ernie: I see your point, Eric, but still, we mustn´t generalise...

Eric: No, of course not, but you know, just goes to show, they pay them off, we cut their heads off. Anyway another thing, this girl, beautiful girl by the way, beautiful ovaries too no doubt...

Ernie: Nothing like a beautiful ovary....

Eric: No indeed. Anyway she says that old Cristiano wasn´t much of a ladies´ man, didn´t really, you know, hunt her down, go in for the kill, so to speak. By all accounts he was the perfect gentleman. She even says she told him he should take up ju-jitsu or something so that people wouldn´t think he was a poof!*

Ernie: Well now again that´s kind of a generalisation, not all poofs are, you know, as limp as last week´s lettuce.

Eric: No, of course not, you know, but....

Ernie: There was that character in Rio, what was his name, in the 30s, Madame Satã, wasn´t it?

Eric: Madame Satã, yes, like the film, there was a film wasn´t there?

Ernie: There was indeed, anyway, he was a poof, a rent boy even, but Christ he could handle himself! He was a proper man!

Eric: He was, and then there was the bloke up here, Lolita, do you remember, the gangster, and when they took him in they needed six men to hold him down! He was hard as nails! And he was a poof!

Ernie: Fantastic, so there you go, anyway, back to the game, for me the problem with Santa today was...

Show continues. Both Eric and Ernie are in their late fifties or early sixties, and both are well-respected sports broadcasters. Ernie, as it happens, was responsible for one of the all time great Brazil vs R.O.W. comments when, while discussing exiled Brazilian footballers returning home, he reminisced about his time in Paris during the 1998 World Cup...

Ernie: So you´re in Paris, and you think, fantastic, I´m in Paris, and you have a coffee on the Champs Elysees, and you look at the nice buildings and the pretty girls, magic. And then on your second day you go up the Eiffel Tower, cracking, pure magic. Day Three – the Louvre, wonderful. Then after that.....what the hell are you going to do in Paris? You can´t go to the beach, you can´t go round your mate´s or your mum´s house, there´s no barbecues, no football, no cachaça, no samba, Christ, no wonder Adriano and Ronaldo wanted to come home! There´s nothing to bloody do in Europe!

And he´s only half right. Or half wrong. I can´t decide.

And so Santa´s bright new dawn becomes yet another terror twilight - an awful crush on the way in should have told me, as should have the Inferno Coral flags draped funearally on the ground as their teenage wavers waited for space to clear on the terraces. The Inferno banners around the pitch are hung upside down too - a way of showing deep displeasure with the way things are currently in as Republicas. There is no space anywhere downstairs, but plenty upstairs. The state government have recently digitalised the Todas Com A Nota program, which allows anyone with r$100 worth of supermarket receipts to claim a free ticket. The problem is Santa´s core support, coming mainly from the mass of Recife´s poor, are not yet digitalised themselves, and no-one has got around to registering for the free electronic swipe cards.

When things start the game is terrible, Santa are terrible, everything is terrible. A man is carried out of the crowd on a stretcher, his neck in a brace, while his son, maybe nine or ten years old, watches anxiously. As the game deteriorates even further a young man in a pork pie hat and sunglasses runs on to the pitch waving a Santa flag. Chico Science he would no doubt love to be but Chico Science he is not. The crowd goes beserk - a pitch invasion like this could cost Santa the use of Arruda for future games. Brasão escorts him off. A policeman intervenes and pushes Brasão. Brasão squares up to the policeman. Two other policemen grab the young man and put him in a headlock. There are ten minutes left. CSA score, and the 500 or so Mancha Azul in the corner go crazy. The final whistle blows. There is running and fighting outside the ground - Inferno Ibura are in town. Then there are gun shots near the bus stop in Encruzilhada, but it´s probably the police firing in the air. Probably. I walk to another bus stop past groups of youngsters sitting on the ground surrounded by police, their hands behind their heads, and another perfect day watching Santa Cruz comes to an end.

* Their words, not mine, so apologies. Your Life Is An Impossibility is an entirely prejduice free zone, other than prejudice against the Welsh, the Canadians, or people from Louth.

2 comments:

The said...

Excellent piece.
The running commentary from Brazil's very own Clive Tyldesley and Mark Lawro is fantastic - rivals Gary Cole and Jason Bateman in Dodgeball.
Coyyon McKnight: ''It's time to separate the wheat from the chaff, the men from the boys, the awkwardly feminine from the possibly Canadian.''
Everyone's allowed a little prejudice in this pc-crazy world ;)
Was the guy waving the Santa flag on the pitch a Desmond's fan?
Anyway goo stuff.

James Young said...

actually i must defend eric and ernie - they´re actually pretty good, staunch defenders of the pernambuco game against the rio/são paulo media axis of evil and far smarter than tyldesley and lawro (not that difficult). i can only assume this surrealist masterpiece was the result of suffering the horrors of the santa game for 90 minutes.