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Euro 2004: Round 5: It's the final countdown!

Inspired by the Greeks' show, ND rewrites Troy:

Setting: A Greek camp outside the walls of Troy. Some soldiers are playing football with a pig's bladder, others are betting on them. A physician is busy attending to the wounds of a player who was hit in the tender regions by the bladder. Zoom in to a tent with a banner bearing the words "You'll never walk alone" flying above it. Inside the tent, a council of war is underway. King Agamemnon is holding council with Odysseus the clever, the wise Nestor, the brave Brad...whoops...Achilles, the wronged Melenaus and the mighty Ajax.

Agamemnon: We need to decide this fast. We have been camped outside their walls for almost a fortnight now. UEFA might ban us if we fall behind schedule.
Odysseus: Well, we could follow my plan...
Agamemnon: Silence! Here we are trying to rescue the world's most beautiful game...
Others (reciting reverently): The game that launched a thousand kicks!
Agamemnon: (waves his hand irritably to silence the chanting) Yes, yes! But to return to the subject, we are committed to rescuing the game from the Trojans. And all you can think of is colossal wooden horses. Is there no end to your perversion, man?
Odysseus: (heatedly) Perversion? You bring us to this foreign land, miles away from our families, televisions and football agents, just because the Trojans filched one of our football players without paying us a transfer fee?
Achilles (jumps to his feet): Shame on you, Odysseus. Shame that you even entertain such thoughts. What would the world say if we had not besieged Troy - that all it takes to get Greece's top player is a spell in Paris? (Nestor titters but shuts up when Melenaus glares at him) And what of poor Melenaus? They took his most prized possession, without paying him so much as a farthing! How will Greek football agents survive if their players are stolen like this?
Melenaus (mutters angrily): Just when I was negotiating a transfer with Barcelona...
Odysseus (cynically): Well, his 'most prized possession' did not go unwillingly, I hear...
Melenaus (angrily): What do you mean, Odysseus? I certainly did not will it...
Agamemnon (shouts angrily): Be quiet, the lot of you! I call on the wise Nestor to suggest a course of action.
Nestor (thoughtfully): Well...we could always challenge them to a game of football.
Agamemnon: Truly that is wise council. But what if we lose? Have they not the mighty Hector in the centre of defence?
Nestor: And have we not the brave Achilles, destined to earn fame at a young age like Pele, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen? And what of the powerful Ajax after whom a Dutch club has been named? Doubt not your own men, o king!
Ajax (jumps up, thumps his chest mightily and sits down with a coughing fit): Well spoken. Bring on the Trojans.
Odysseus: I still think that with a few carpenters...
Agamemnon (roars): That's enough Odysseus! And since you be so keen on wooden horses, I assign you the task of marking Hector in the match!
Odysseus: Nooooooooooooooo (faints and is carried away to the physician's tent)
Agamemnon: Revive him and get him fit for the match. And send word to the Trojans that we challenge them to a match of football.
(All cheer loudly and leave the tent. Nestor takes Achilles aside as they disperse)
Nestor: Achilles, you are the bravest of the brave. None can match your skill, courage and dexterity. Why then are you so silent?
Achilles: (moodily) Hm...? Oh nothing really! It is just that I have been having some problems with my heel! I guess I will just play through it and hope that it does not trip me up!
(Scream from physician's tent as Odysseus receives treatment. Nestor and Achilles smile and walk away)

Totally de-inspired by Hindi commentary, PD tries to share her grief:

Surprise, surprise. The Hindi commentators have not yet been sacked. Which only means that they are so bad that even their bosses cannot bear to listen. Anyhow, perhaps sharing my pain with our readers will make it go away. Here are five things that certainly went nowhere in enriching my life:

1. The colour of Milan Baros' underwear. Yes, yes. They announced that the Czechs were playing in 'white knickers'. Now, why, WHY, would I need to know that? UGH! [Scrub memory with soap, detergent, disinfectant...] Well, the real reason for this strange revelation is that they insist on using the term "knickers" for shorts. Or perhaps they are inspired the great goals/saves slot on TV sponsored by an underwear company!
2. Otto "Ray-gaaarl" (Rehhagel) and his impending presidency. One more time they announce that he will be made Greek president - as if about a thousand times a game is not bad enough - and ND has promised to smash in the TV. [Accepting donations now for new TV fund. Be generous, people, especially those of you who did not have to put up with Hindi commentary or cannot understand the language, you lucky things! Incidentally, we would like a 54 inch flat screen Sony Vega]
3. "The balls have gone out of play." Somehow, our lads behind the national language mic have not grasped the concepts of singular and plural. Or perhaps, they are actually referring to the players themselves who accompany the ball into touch... hmm...
4. "Hen-ree" and "Trez-goo-ay" and "Isee-aak-son" (Isaksson) and more. Well, at least we didn't have to hear about them after the quarterfinals! And if any of our readers knows this, will he or she please write back and tell me what a "side-back" is in football? And a "reverse ball"?
5. Brilliant reading of strategy, like the Czechs "doing defence". Honestly, someone stop me from topping myself...

Final Whistle: Scores and scorers

Portugal 2 (Ronaldo, Maniche) Netherlands 1 (Andrade [og])
Greece 1 (Dellas) Czech Republic 0

Sent off: None
Not sent off: None (all rise and applaud!)

Offside: Trivia

By some strange coincidence, Portugal have never lost more than a single match at the European football championships. Well, they already have lost a match in this tournament, so that should make them firm favourites to upend the Greeks tonight!

Net Crackers: Best of the Web

No, the dazzle of Euro 2004 has not blinded us to the Premiership. James Milner is the latest to leave relegated Leeds. Get a complete picture of the Leeds exodus at,1563,1252882,00.html

Football 365's Mark Campanarios has come up with a The Euro 2004 TV Moments XI. The language might be less than parliamentary at places but ND is still giggling.

The Guardian's Ian Ridley feels that Euro 2004 heralds the arrival of a new world order in football. Read the case he makes at,14584,1253567,00.html

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