World Cup 7 Final Day in Errinundera
- 1 World Cup 7 Final Day in Fanny Moo
- 2 World Cup 7 Final Day in Cornellby
- 3 Fanny Moo
- 4 Cornellby
- 5 Fanny Moo
- 6 Celebrations
World Cup 7 Final Day in Fanny Moo
So far, dear reader, during this World Cup 7 campaign you will have followed the fortunes of the Errinundera longfoots through the pages of some of our newspapers, principally the Fanny Moo Enquirer On-line. On this day of days let us experience the heartaches of football supporters at home. We will visit the village of Fanny Moo and spend a few hours with them.
How to Watch Football from a Tree
About Fanny Moo
Firstly, where is Fanny Moo? It is in the northwestern part of the great central plateau. The looming bulk of Mount Ellery can be seen on the southern horizon. Unlike the Southern Escarpment with its spectacular drops and waterfalls, the northern plateau descends gently to the northern plains. Fanny Moo is situated near the headwaters of the mighty Delegate River that flows north, through the plains and across the northern border. Here, though, the Delegate is a clear, sparkling stream. There is a ridge a couple of kilometres to the south. On the other side the streams feed into the Brodribb River which descend through gorges to the south. Fannies like to think that the ridge is the heart of Errinundera. But then, every village has a similar fantasy.
The centre of life for most plateau villages and towns is their sacred tree. In Fanny Moo it is a gigantic Shining Gum named CUNNUSVACCAE. It may have been noted by readers that the names of trees have embraced capital letter technology whereas the names of people have not. This ties in with Errinundrian philosophy concerning the insignificance of the individual compared with the forest and the earth. People may also wonder about the extreme profanity of the Latin name. (I dare not translate it in this article, although the village name is a rough translation.) Well I guess it might be said that whilst Errinundrians have beliefs, they don’t take them TOO seriously. Trees ARE important but it doesn’t mean you can’t take the piss out of them. Births, deaths, weddings, anything really, are celebrated under the massive arching branches of the sacred tree.
Like many plateau villages, Fanny Moo is in slow but inexorable decline. Not much of a living can be scraped out of the forest. The main employer is the local shoe factory that, for a time provided microfibre footwear to the world. The factory has fallen on hard times although new owners and new managers are beginning to revive its fortunes. Young people know they are abandoning paradise but the big cities are calling, calling, calling.
Football Comes to Errinundera
When filthyl brought football to the nation just twelve years ago, the fiercely proud Fannies answered the call. They saw it as their chance to put themselves on the map. It was a dream taken up by many villages so that, in its first few years, the Errinundera Football Association was viewed as a rustic organisation made up of many disputing, parochial clubs. Two factors weighed against this. Firstly, the 2 most important cities of the nation, the capital First Creek Falls and the financial and intellectual hub McKillops Bridge, alone of all the great cities took up the game in its formative years with enthusiasm. The early success of First Creek Falls, in particular, encouraged the other great cities to take part, squeezing out the resource poor villages. Secondly, the immediate and unexpected success of the longfoots in World Cup 5 electrified the nation, making football a universal passion.
Some village teams have prospered. Ellery Camp has thrived by the canny decision to create the National Football Academy and to forge football links with other nations such as Tanah Burung. Of course the sexy antarcticad and oreadest didn’t harm the team’s aura. To this day, if you don’t have a local team in the competition then you probably barrack for Ellery Camp. Some village teams, like Fanny Moo prospered because they had the good fortune to be home to a star player. For the Fannies it was sandrab, the feisty defender who won the inaugural leighm medal for best longfoot player in WC5. But sandrab has retired and her star is in decline today. And so is her village.
Early Morning Excitement
It is 5 am and almost the entire population of 450 are rousing themselves to watch the game. It will be displayed on three huge screens set up in a triangle in the centre of the village. The housetrees form a ring around the screens. People can sit on their branches or on the beautiful arching skywalks that connect the housetrees. There is plenty of room for everybody. Few people have breakfast before the game. It is an Errinundrian tradition to eat cake and drink champagne during these dawn games.
As the sun begins to rise the people come out of their homes and begin to gather in their favourite spots. The ferals are coming in from their hideouts in the forest. The villagers don’t mind the ferals: they’re either committed conservationists, in which case they are deeply respected, or they are mentally disturbed, in which case they are sincerely pitied. Or both. People from the nearby treetown of Cobb Hill are also arriving. They prefer the village atmosphere. There are even some relatives come up from Goongerah who are treated as if they never left.
As the sun begins to peek through the trees on this fine morning the screens come to life in a blaze of colour. The teams come on to the ground and a hush comes over the village. For the first time there will be an Errinundrian commentary team at the World Cup stadium, consisting of three former longfoot players: the much-loved but injury prone gabriellen, the current Protector of Sport, filthyl, and every Fannies hero, the banished sandrab. The hush gives way to applause as the team is introduced and finally 450 people lose all restraint as local player, pomaderrisa, acknowledges the Audioslavian crowd with a wave. Is she thinking about the people on the other side of the world whose hearts are busting on her behalf?
World Cup 7 Final Day in Cornellby
Introducing the host city
Any visitor will tell you. Audioslavia is the loudest country in the world. And on World Cup Final day, I can tell you that Cornellby must be the noisiest place in Audioslavia. And the Soundgardian National Arena has to be the biggest din in all of Cornellby. So put in your earplugs and grab your tickets. We are off to the final of World Cup 7.
Spaam and Errinundera: the stand out sides of the Cup series. Rated as # 2 and # 3 respectively in the World at the start of the Cup, the unexpected early demise of favourites (on previous form if not in national character) Quohog brought these 2 nations to prominence. In the last cup they met in the play-off for third place and had to go into extra time before Spaam emerged as victors.
Dozens of stages have been set up outside the stadium. From each a band or DJ provides their own special brand of enlightenment. Our favourite is still the grunge outfit led by a man so old he needs a walking frame. His voice is a high pitched keen that makes you feel as if a chainsaw is running amok inside your brain. Now, I have to tell you that a chainsaw, even before it starts up, will set an Errinundrian’s teeth on edge. I think you get the picture.
Riot police are everywhere. In back alleys near the stadium you will find serried ranks of personnel carriers. Audioslavia is a progressive nation but, just the same, the government doesn’t quite trust its citizens: football disturbances aren’t unknown here. Riots in Audioslavia are less directed than ours. Audioslavians like to go on a general rampage. We pick our targets and destroy them utterly. So perhaps the authorities here have heard about our antics? Do you notice how the large corporations are particularly well guarded?
The sun is setting on this beautiful autumn day. Hey, some of the Errinundrian fans are glowing purple. These lucky sods have managed to get hold of some Eeesy Tomatoes and Tanah Burung Beer. Where did they get them? The tomatoes aren’t in general production and the TB beer supplies in Audioslavia reportedly sold out within 24 hours of the Errinundera v Bedistan game. The world is full of wonders.
Now we have made it into this giant and weird stadium. Normally it holds 105,000 people but extra scaffolding has been suspended from the roofs and added to uncovered decks. It looks spidery and unsafe but, as the fans will tell you, they may never see their nation in a World Cup final again. An extra 25,000 get to see the match thanks to these pipes and planks.
The giant light towers are blazing so that it seems like daytime on the pitch. Yet the surrounding city is in dark relief. It is strange, this combination of day and night in the light bloom of an evening game. Steely bright and dewy dark: ah, unmistakably the atmosphere of a very special football match.
Just as we find our seats the ground erupts in a heart-thumping roar: the players have appeared. The fans have prepared gigantic crepe-paper run-throughs. The Spaam run-through reads, “We like you Errinundera but, sorry, we have to bury you.” For Errinundera it’s a picture of a gorilla with huge feet kicking a tiny footballer in Spaam colours. The teams burst through. Somehow the roar gets loader.
The Spaam Team
Black and red flags for Spaam; white flags with green trees for Errinundera. It’s Mordor v Gondor all over again. Will our modern day Aragorn, moschatuma, lead or team to victory? Or will the orcs and cave trolls hold the day? A hush comes over the crowd as the players line up for their introduction to the crowd. For the red-kitted Spaam it’s:
- Goal Keeper: Fin Súrion
- Striker: Méla Sëhelin
- Striker: Rohir Dorth
- Striker: Fin Teinwë
- Forward: Inwë Lossë
- Mid/Forward: Darát Ar-Fein
- Midfielder: Amras Tinúviel
- Midfielder: Decán Elanessë
- Midfielder: Súri El Sar
- Defender: Nessa Ringer
- Defender: Tathar Telemnar
- Defender: Sára Londë
- Defender: Amras Celebri
These are elven names. Perhaps they are not Sauronic after all.
The Errinundera Team
In white are the longfoots. As they are introduced their fans burst into their now familiar gorilla dance and a tremendous “Hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo” resounds through the crisp night air. Oh no! Some of the scaffolding has collapsed. People from all sides rush to help the victims but the game must go on.
- Forward: antarcticad
- Forward: longipesp
- Forward: joyhilla
- Midfielder: moschatuma
- Midfielder: adealbata
- Midfielder: melanoxylona
- Midfielder: codith
- Defender: horstrac
- Defender: snapier
- Defender: pomaderrisa
- Goal Keeper: regnanse
- Substitute forward: firset
- Substitute defender: delegatensise
The players line up for the national anthems. Each team pays more respect to the other side’s anthem than they do for their own. That’s the way it should be. 130,000 people have tears in their eyes, lumps in their throats and imminent heart attacks. I can see the people around me trembling. Is it excitement or fear?
The players go to their positions, the umpire presents the ball to the Spaam striker and blows his whistle to commence the game.
The First Half
All out attack from the start of the game
The Fannies are quiet as the game commences but begin to murmur as the first few minutes tick by. Something unusual is happening here. The players of both sides don’t have that pinched, drawn look so typical of grand finals. They are not making mistakes. The skill levels displayed are extraordinary. But the oddest thing is, it’s attack, attack, attack from both sides. The coaches must have used the same message to their respective teams.
There’s no cautious testing out of the opposition; no sideways or backwards passing. It’s tearaway runs down the pitch, booming 30 metre passes, sure gathering of the ball, great tackles, shot after shot on goal, great saves from the goalkeepers. But it’s the speed of the game! Up, down, up, down the pitch goes the ball like lightning. How long can the players keep this up? How long before a defence is cracked? How long before the goalkeeper doesn’t quite get there. After 30 minutes, antarcticad has had 4 shots on goal, longipesp and joyhilla 2 each. For Spaam Méla Sëhelin, Rohir Dorth and Fin Teinwë have had 3 each: goalkeepers regnanse and Fin Súrion are playing the games of their lives.
Possums Become Involved
The telecast is so spellbinding that the Fannies forget their cakes totally. Realizing their opportunity, brushtail possums come out onto the branches and skywalks to help themselves. They needn’t be so cautious – the Fannies would happily share with them. The possums start to notice the gigantic moving images and they too came under its magic. They aren’t quite so foolish as the humans. No matter how moving the image you gotta keep chomping on the mudcake. What to do the possums make of the football? Errinundrian animal linguists report that possums find all human activity bizarre but, apparently, so long as humans live in trees they can’t be all bad. Their attitude to football has not been ascertained yet.
Some possums get into the champagne. Before the game is over a major rumble has broken out between local tribes. We later discover that a major marsupial war spreads throughout Errinundera that takes 18 months to run its course. Down below on the forest floor the potoroos look up at the people and the possums and the giant screens and say to each other, “Farrout, they’re a weird mob.”
The players slow down
In the last minutes of the half, the pace slackens a little, the attacks begin to lack penetration, the defenders are having an easier time of it, and there are fewer shots on goal. The Fannies begin to relax a little and rescue the remains of their cakes and champagne. Fingers are nipped, as resentful possums have to relinquish their food.
The commentary team sounds as drained as the footballers. gabriellen, sandrab and filthyl agree that the emphasis on attack is not having the expected results. “You would expect a high scoring game with the tactics being used but both the goalies have been magnificent,” says gabriellen. sandrab is angry that the defenders of both sides are neglecting their defensive games in favour of all out attack. “Good defenders can shine in both areas; they are just not tightening up enough when they have to.” filthyl is looking ahead. “If this continues it will be a case of last player standing. I think the fittest team will hold out and eventually score. It seems both teams had the strategy of overwhelming the other in the first half. It’s turned into a weird but magnificent half of football.”
The players, the commentators, the villagers and the possums all seem relieved when the umpire blows the whistle to end the first half. Despite all the attacking no goals have been scored. Surely, this cannot continue?
At the half-time break of most sports events the crowd, whatever its size, hurries off to the loos and the food stalls. Despite the fact that the Audioslavians made a special effort to provide lots of vegetarian food the crowd has remained standing in their places after giving the teams a standing ovation as they left the field.
There is a buzz in the crowd. Spaamers and Errinundrians turn to each other. At first they have an amazed look in their eyes, then they shrug and laugh. “Isn’t this the most amazing game you’ve eve seen?” is the inevitable ice-breaking question. All around the stadiums erstwhile football enemies are reliving the magical highlights of the first half, the acrobatics of longipesp, the amazing skills of moschatuma and Fin Teinwë, and the steely ruggedness of Nessa Ringer who reminds the Errinundrians so much of sandrab. But above all the crowd is humming about the achievements of the respective goalies: the surprisingly nimble 214 cm regnanse and Fin Súrion who so unluckily missed the World Cup 6 because of a torn cruciate ligament.
A clamouring from the vendors along with close to bursting bladders brings the fans to their senses and they rush off to satisfy their divers urges. Due to the delay, many fans haven’t returned to their seats before the next half is underway and a crush develops. The surging crowd pushes against the scaffolding and another section topples over. Again the match continues despite the injuries.
The Second Half
To everybody’s amazement the 2 teams start off just like they did in the first half. It’s booming, attacking, running, exciting football from the word go. “Ooh,” sounds 130,000 people in one voice, “ahh”. There are near misses, crunching collisions and more saved shots on goal. Neither team will renounce its policy of attack and nothing but attack. Yet, neither goalkeeper is giving an inch.
But people do begin to sense a change coming over the game. The pace is slackening just a little. Now we see some players bent over with hands on knees trying to catch their breath. Shots on goal are more often going wide or over the top and when they are heading for the net don’t seem to strike the goalie quite so hard. Are the goalkeepers going to fade as well?
Yes. It is regnanse who cracks. In the 77th minute young Méla Sëhelin, at only 19 years of age and perhaps with an edge in fitness finally does what has seemed impossible so far – she has the strength of body and presence of mind to send the ball into the top right hand corner of the net.
The Spaamers dance around the field in ecstasy. Their supporters dance in the stands. For the first time in the match the gorilla stomping stops. After the bonhomie of the half-time break the Errinundrian supporters once more hate the Spaamers bitterly.
But this game has some twists to go yet. Truly these sides are evenly matched. Within 2 minutes Errinundera’s great disappointment of World Cup 7, antarcticad, redeems himself and the team with a header past Fin Súrion who seemed to move a little bit slowly into position. Perhaps his knee has reached its limit.
In the stands the dancing of the Spaamers has stopped almost as quickly as it started. All the fans look at each other and wonder what is going to happen next. A rare thing happens in Audioslavia. 130,000 people are gathered together and are quiet.
Now the shouts and groans and grunts of the players can be heard distinctly. Like the first half the two teams are slowing down. The strikers and midfielders, who have done most of the running so far, are in worse condition than the defenders. The game looks like going to go into extra time. There are a couple more tired shots at goal just before injury time but that’s it. The reserves of energy are depleted. Again it seems an act of mercy when the umpire calls full time. But is it really? The poor bastards from the two sides have to do it all again in extra time.
Extra time is an excruciating affair. Only the comparatively fresh substitutes show any sparkle. Both teams have driven themselves into the ground in their Herculean striving for ascendancy. Not one shot on goal occurs. Everyone’s worse fears are about to be realized. World Cup 7 is going to be decided by penalties.
It seems so unfair. Why does one team have to win this way? The Errinundrians have bitter memories of the loss to Quohog in the semi-finals of World Cup 6. Then, it took 15 penalty shots to determine who would play in the final. Why can’t the WCC saw the cup in two and give half to each of the teams? A wonderful final deserves more than this.
Even the previously effervescent Snub Nose 38 umpire looks grumpy when she blows the whistle to end extra time with both teams still on one-all.
Differences of Opinion
The sun has risen above the trees in Fanny Moo. The images on the screens are no longer quite so distinct. The 450 gathered Fannies and sundry possums – it’s way past their bedtime – and magpies and currawongs and crimson rosellas don’t mind. This is a day to remember.
The commentators are at odds what to make of the game. gabriellen says its the best game of football she has ever seen. sandrab disagrees vehemently. She reckons the defenders for both sides have been deplorable. filthyl doesn’t know what to think. Football in Errinundera has been his dream. Twelve years ago it wasn’t played here at all. He roved the forests and mountains and plains and valleys and got all the original teams going. He cajoled the Assembly of Protectors to generously fund the project. In its first attempt the national team had qualified for World Cup 5, much to everyone’s amazement. They had barely missed the second round, finishing 17th. In World Cup 6 they had made the semi-finals only to be beaten after 15 penalty shot. They lost the play-off for third that year, against Spaam of all teams. He should be deliriously happy. How he wants this penalty shoot-out to be over and done with! How he dreads it at the same time!
Like all good politicians, he instinctively reflects the average person’s feelings. All the Fannies are suffering the same sensation. Should they be delighted if the team loses? Or should they despair.
Penalty Shoot Out
They watch as young Spaam striker, Rohir Dorth, takes the first shot. He shoots low to the left. regnanse dives low to the left. A miss.
antarcticad comes up for his turn. 450 people in Fanny Moo stop breathing simultaneously. For their sake I hope he doesn’t take his time. Fin Súrion goes the wrong way. A goal. One-nil.
adealbata steps up. Again Fin Súrion guesses wrongly but fortunately for him adealbata hasn’t put enough power into the kick. The Spaam goalie is able to change directions and deflect the ball. One-nil.
The Spaam captain has his turn. Amras Tinúviel makes out to kick to the left but straight and high. A goal. One-all.
At this point, Fanny Moo model car collector, oldandlo, in his excitement loses his balance on his branch and falls off. Several people scramble down to help him. They will miss the final shots.
Fin Teinwë now comes forward. He takes his time, has a couple of false starts then blazes directly ahead. regnanse moves too slowly and doesn’t dive either left or right. He realizes his good fortune in time to stand his ground and clasp the ball in his arms. One-all.
Now it is moschatuma’s turn. He places he ball perfectly so that it is just beyond the fingertips of Fin Súrion. It grazes the inside top right corner of the goal and deflects into the back net. You would expect nothing less from the most skillful player in the side. Two-one.
joyhilla has the chance here to put the longfoots in a commanding position. If she scores he best the Spaamers can do is level. If she scores and either miss the Cup belongs to Errinundera. She shoots right but her movements give her away. Fin Súrion sees it and anticipates correctly. Two-one.
Méla Sëhelin doesn’t waste any time. She rushes up to the ball and blazes away. regnanse goes in the right direction but is too slow. Two-all.
The potoroo Scores
Spontaneously, the Fannies start chanting “potoroo, potoroo, potoroo”. Little do they know that the same chant has started up many kilometres away in her home town in Rodger River and many thousands of kilometres away in Cornellby.
On the screen appears curly headed Decán Elanessë. He tries to blaze away as well. This time regnanse is ready and makes an easy save. Two all.
The Fannies are standing on their branches and standing on the skywalks. One kick to go. If longipesp can score the Cup is Errinundera’s. If not, it’s a sudden death shoot out. The chanting grows in volume.
longipesp steps up to the ball, smiles sweetly at Fin Súrion and scores.