In praise of radio

GolfestWith the World Cup starting later today in Germany, it is worth praising the great medium of radio. Like most sports, football is better on the radio than in real life. As an introduction to the tournament, my strong advice is to listen to the BBC radio highlights of the top 20 moments of the last five World Cups. The heroes of the show are not the players but the pantheon of great BBC radio commentators -- Peter Jones, Mike Ingham, John Motson, Alan Green and, legend amongst legends, Bryon Butler.

Butler's description of Diego Maradona's second goal against England on 22 June 1986 in Mexico City is as good as the famous goal itself. And it's no surprise that his Radio Two live commentary of Maradona's snaking run was considered the number one World Cup moment over the last twenty years. As Butler announced to a shocked England twenty years ago this month:

"It's England nil, Diego Maradona two."

For Argentinians, of course, with the Falklands War a very recent memory, this scoreline contained a particular justice; for the English, it was the reverse. But if there is to be true justice in this World Cup, I suggest the following three (unlikely) outcomes:

1) Iran to defeat Serbia in the semis and then USA in the final -- thus finally giving Moslems in the world something to cheer about.
2) The Germans play the most attacking and innovative football in the tournament but are defeated by a dull Holland in the final -- thus reversing the great injustice of 1974.
3) A glittering Czech-Poland final in Berlin with lots of goals, extra time, but no penalty shoot out -- thus forcing the world's press to remember Germany's historic relations with its "smaller" neighbors.

I, for one, will be glued to my radio over the next four weeks, desperately hoping for one of these football dreams to become reality.