Here we are. The eve of the final of Russia 2018. Croatia and France will meet in Luzhniki Stadium, in Moscow, at 18:00 local time, 16:00 Irish time, and 10:00 Chicago time. The World Cup Final. The culmination of years of qualifiers, play-offs, training, and the competition itself. There’s not a huge level of surprise that France made the final. It’s not so long since they won the competition – France ’98. I feels like yesterday I watched this with a few cans of Bud (can’t believe I drank that shit back then) in my parents living room. It’s twenty years ago. What? It is a big surprise that Croatia made it so far. Of course being Irish, I am obliged to want the English soccer to lose against any other opponent. Let’s just say I may have had a (huge fuck off) smile on my face when Croatia won. So yes. I’m delighted Croatia are in the final instead of England, but also in their own right.
So back to tomorrow. I still have some resentment towards French soccer. Thierry Henry’s handball was responsible for knocking Ireland out of running to get into World Cup 2010 in South Africa. Okay. I should probably get over it, but you know, it sucked. I love France. I hate their soccer team. When I think of Croatia on the other hand, sadly it still brings me back to the terrible dark times in that country in the mid-90s. We all watched on our TV screens as innocent people were being murdered. I also remember during some game I was watching in my local pub (The Elphin for those who care) at some point while I still lived in Ireland I ended up with a Croatian supporters scarf. I had Hrvatska written on it. I presume Ireland were playing Croatia. I remember being drunk shouting Hrvatska over and over until my friends told me to shut the fuck up. That happened a lot.
Tomorrow I will most definitely by routing for Hvratska over La France. The odds are not in ‘our’ favor, but Croatian fans around the world will whip up a fervor like never seen before. This is their first time in the final. They are a very proud nation, no doubt made more so by having struggled through their war just over twenty years ago. Everyone from their 30s and up in that country experienced the brutal war. I have no idea what it is like to live through something like that. I have no idea how they feel. This may feel like some huge cathartic moment for them. Of course it doesn’t wipe away the past, but it is amazing the entire nation can get behind this event.
We haven’t had working cable for years. We only discovered it last New Year’s when we turned on the TV to watch the ball drop in New York. The last time we had watched TV was the New Year’s before. So our cable may have been broken for eighteen months. We never watch TV as you can tell. My daughter’s soccer class starts at 10:00 tomorrow (local time – ha ha). My plan is to ignore her, and watch it in the lobby. That’ll get me the first half. I might just shove the kids in front of their tablets and stick around for the second half at her soccer place. That’s it. I’ll sit on the ground. They know I’m Irish and my husband is Mexican, so they give us more soccer props than the American parents (sorry – you know it’s true though). I watched a minimal amount of games this tournament. I didn’t have easy access, and was less interested because Ireland were not in the competition, and my mental illness still makes almost everything less interesting. I think I can muster plenty of energy for this game.
So tomorrow as the world is gathered around their televisions, I will be silently, or not so silently, screaming HVRASTKA! I wish I still had that damn scarf!