BBC promo figures

Posted 12 Jun 2014

in Featured

Football Fanaticism: the 2014 World Cup begins! By Gillian K Ferguson

It’s here – an insufferable entire month of saturation coverage of men with unpleasantly bulbous thighs interminably kicking a ball (and sometimes each other), up and down a large green field.  And leaping on each other like mating frogs if said ball ends up in a fishing net on sticks. And whipping off their shirts at the slightest opportunity – a more welcome sight in some cases than others…

Ah, but that’s what I used to think, before I realised one had to embrace this thing; for even the most usually sane men who prefer potting orchids to soccer, get swept up in this obsessive football furore – and you just have to make the best of it. This, I have found, means irritating all mesmerised males by commenting – in good detail – on how much better looking the players are from other nations, especially Italy – or France, or Spain or Nigeria or Brazil or Croatia…… Actually, anywhere really; all other 31 nations. Fortunately, as my native Scotland rarely qualifies, we are spared somewhat from such depressing direct comparison – and the type of dazzlingly pallid, cheekboneless complexions that are our home country’s speciality.

You can then admire flowing locks, a smouldering crooked smile; these funny Ken-doll hip muscles footballers culture; make withering comments on how ‘jessie’ (Scots for wimpy) these stupid hairbands are – honestly, they look like they’re about to have an on-pitch facial. You can look forward to your swoony favourites – last time it was a European player who was the spit of my screen-crush, Aragorn – and hope they play well so that you can see more of them before the cameraman repeatedly homes in on the best looking girl in the crowd with flags emblazoned on her ample bosom. And you can give fashion forward tips on which team’s kit is most fetching/ stylish/ flattering; and discover whose quivering manly tears silvering down the faces of victors/victims might even prick a little pearl of moisture from your own eye.  And ask questions that are so blatantly ignorant of even the most fundamental rules of football that they are just really annoying; and, naturally, you can pause at crucial junctures to urgently put on the kettle/go to the loo – or eat crisps noisily. Sport did you say; there is much to be had once you decide to embrace the concept.

And truly, with all that high emotion – even if it all seems a bit over the top once you reduce it to what is actually happening out there under the hysteria – poetry is definitely invited to the tournament. Sport has been known to inspire some trophyworthy poems and, as the opening ceremony gets underway tonight, Poetryzoo is opening a World Cup 2014 Anthology – who knows, this might just prove a new kind of challenge for your writing. And you don’t have to stay on the pitch; there has been controversy in Brazil at the huge cost of hosting the games, with protests right across the country. Then, there is the spectacular culture, dazzle and colour of Brazil itself…

To help inspire you, there are some good football poems on the Poetry Foundation (US) website – OK, OK, so they’re mostly about American football, not soccer but hey, it’s poetry, with balls. And in the UK, the Football Association even commissioned an ‘Ode to Football’ last year to celebrate its 150th anniversary. The first game was played to rules drawn up by the splendidly-named Ebenezer Cobb Morley in 1863.  Famous names from the game appear in the video and footy-fan actors deliver lines – with snips from the UK’s National Football Museum’s film, ‘Our Beautiful Game’.

And, it’s true, there  is a whole ‘team’ of football-loving poetry-writers at, with their memorable catchphrase – ‘swapping shirts with Shakespeare’, which has been celebrating all things footy for more than ten years. They are salivating at the prospect of the World Cup. The poetry squad grew out of one night of football poetry, and now, as well as the website, delivers workshops, readings (with a kickabout beforehand to soothe the nerves), live recordings, and a creative writing initiative with over 150 participating schools. And, dismayed at one point about the England manager vacancy, they even sent an application from the poetry team’s mascot – a diminutive Scottish Terrier. (That’s a dog, not a player.) ‘Basil’ received a reply, even though he did confess in his CV to being a dog. ‘Dear Mr. Crozier, I wish to apply for the post of England manager,’ he wrote.  ‘Although I am a dog, I have a wealth of football experience behind me; indeed I sponsor a whole team of football poets. I enclose a photograph. Yours sincerely, Basil the Westie’.  Barking.

So, the ball is in your court, er, pitch. (Though we will open another anthology for Wimbledon next week).  Keep us in touch, set yourself some goals and give yourself extra time… In honour of the World Cup, we will be awarding a Poetryzoo trophy for the most loved football poem in our Anthology – surely even more covetable than that bit of gold bling which always reminds me of a giant 1970s cufflink.

The world cup

The world cup – obviously


The 2014  FIFA World Cup, live from 12th June across the UK’s BBC and ITV.

Inspirational work – football poems at the Poetry Foundation (US) -

The Football Association’s commissioned ‘Ode to Football’ –

For the team of football-fanatic poets –

National Football Museum (UK) ‘Our Beautiful Game’ video at


Picture credit: BBC promotional world cup video

by The PoetryZoo Keeper