Fan Support: The Other Europe

Continuing with the “countries recently invaded by Germany” theme, we have the lady supporters of Eastern European football, starting (as did the Germans) with Poland:

A little south, we have Croatia:

Which is next door to Serbia:

And then there are their Slavic cousins, Russia:

To the surprise of probably no-one, it was discovered that Russia’s most-photographed female fan (above) is a porno actress in real life (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course — anyone can support their country, and should).

And to end this segment of female fan support, we have Greece, a country nominally in Western Europe, but geographically south of Poland, so there:

We’ll wrap up this series, so to speak, next week with a look at the rest of the world.  As always, feel free to vote for your favorite(s) in Comments.

Fan Support: Over There

Last week we studied the fan support of football in the Western Hemisphere, so now we’ll cross the Atlantic, starting with mid-Atlantic Iceland:

I know these ladies are somewhat more demure than the average we’ve seen up till now, but let’s not forget that it gets kinda chilly in Iceland.  Staying with the Scandinavian types, there are the original Vikings in Denmark:

…followed by Sweden:

I know Swedes all speak English, and there’s proof.  Anyway, let’s move a little south:

And across the border:

Over the Pyrenees mountains:

While over the Channel, we have the English roses:

[insert]  Longtime Friend and Reader TrueBrit sends me the following, to highlight England’s winning spirit (and if it makes you giggle, you’re not alone):

Back over in Euroland, there are the Low Countries (Belgium and Holland respectively), who despite their diminutive size, always seem to punch well above their weight class, so to speak:

And lurking just over the Rhine, the Old Enemy (in so many ways):

…and their cousins-in-crime, Austria:

But let’s not talk about The War.  The Swiss were neutral, in any case:

Moving south, there’s the confusingly-named Azzuri (despite having national colors of green, white and red, Italy plays in sky-blue jerseys because Italy):

Okay, you can all stop panting now, and vote for your favorites in Comments.  In two weeks’ time:  Eastern Europe.

Fan Support: The Americas

Today we will study the lengths to which people will support their home team.  By “people”, of course, I mean “ladies” and by “support” I mean “showing up at a football stadium wearing your national team’s colors, more or less”.  Let’s start off with the South Americans, because one has to start somewhere:

One would imagine that Brazil does just as well in this department, and one would be right:

But those are large, populous countries so one would expect a high level of tottie-ness.  What about the smaller South American ones?  Let’s start with Ecuador:

…and then Paraguay:

Peru:

Chile:

   

And let’s not forget tiny Honduras:

I know, Honduras is technically in Central America — which brings me on to Mexico:

If I may channel Top Gear‘s Jeremy Clarkson for a moment, that does not look like yer typical Mexican housemaid as found in the U.S.A., does it?  And speaking of El Norte, we have:

…but frankly, I think we save our best for the other kind of football:

…and especially at the college level:

Next week, we’ll cross the Atlantic to resume our study.  Oh, and feel free to vote for your favorite fan(s) in Comments.

That’s More Like It: Carnoustie Bares Its Fangs

It seems as though the Carnoustie weather only gave the players a false sense of security on Thursday, setting them up for Friday.  And it worked.

The vast crowds were not dodging imaginary lava, of course, but rain. Real rain. The sort of rain that turns course maps into mulch and makes bunkers look like mud. “I’m waiting here,” said one glum spectator, who had joined a swelling mob of clambering fans in watching a big screen from the comfort of the Open’s food tent. “I’ll have to go out later.”

By mid-morning, the food hall was part-cafe, part-viewing gallery and part-changing room. Those wise enough to bring waterproofs had found a place to pull them on, while others had been drawn to the smell of bacon butties. One woman, clearly unmoved by the prospect of exchanging her warmth for live golf, was simply reading a book. Another spectator told the Daily Telegraph that this was his first trip to the Open since Royal Troon in 2016, when the rain fell even harder. “At least I got a free course map,” he said.
It should be made clear that this weather is not unusual. This is Scotland. It rains. Get over it, right? But it was still hard to avoid the contrast between this misery and the opening day here, when Carnoustie provided a passable impression of a Mediterranean beach resort. On Thursday, the better-hydrated spectators fell asleep on the oversized, inflatable cushions. On Friday, those cushions drooped mournfully in the dirt like a herd of tired walruses.

It could always be worse, as they say, and it has been far worse than this at the Open. The conditions were so bad during the third round of the 2002 tournament in Muirfield that Trevor Immelman, the South African player, said he thought the world was going to end.

That braying sound you hear is Kim laughing uproariously.

(And thanks to Reader Pkudude, who sent me the link.)

Open Day

The Open Championship begins today in Scotland (I previewed it here), and Reader Mike S. chimes in with this anecdote:

My friend was a US Naval Flight Officer. He also loved golf.
His aircraft was down for repairs at a Scottish base so they had some unexpected free time.
A Scottish “friend” asked “Care for a round of golf?”
Rather than ask “Where?” he just said, “Sure.”
Up at dawn, a drive, and then… HELL ON EARTH.
He claims the only reason he reached the 18th green was the survival training the Navy gave him.
It was, of course, Carnoustie.

Oh yeah, baby.

Now it must be said that it’s been unseasonably hot Over There of late, and only on Friday is there even a chance of seeing people dressed like this:

Here’s the forecast:

All that said:  if Carnoustie hasn’t had much rain, then the fairways will be hard — really hard.  In fact, one comment was that the fairways will run faster than the greens (which will have been watered).  Now one might think that this helps the golfers;  one would be wrong.  A hard surface is fine — if the surface is flat.  But Carnoustie’s fairways aren’t flat, which means the ball can bounce or run in any direction, e.g. off the fairway completely and into the dense rough or impenetrable gorse.

And so it begins…

Vile, Fearful And Awful

(First Printed in July 2007)

No, that’s not the name of the firm where your ex-wife’s lawyer works:  it’s the dreaded Carnoustie, home of this year’s Open Golf Championship in Britain.

Now, for all those Philistines who are going to moan about boring golf and “a good walk spoiled” and all that jive, save your comments and your time, because I’m going to ignore your bleats.

There is golf as we normally see it on TV, played on immaculate fairways which resemble fine carpet and greens which resemble beds of moss, and in weather which is sunny and warm.

And then there is Carnoustie.

It is a vile, fearful and awful place:  way in the north of Scotland, right next to the cold and dreary North Sea, it’s the northernmost course of all those which host The Open.  So Carnoustie can and does provide the foulest weather imaginable — freezing winds, icy drizzle, leaden skies — and all that’s before you hit your first ball off the tee, whereupon your troubles really begin.

Because the Scots are terrible liars, almost all pictures of Carnoustie show a benign, sunny place with smiling, happy golfers playing off the fairways.  But the closest picture I’ve seen to the horrible reality of Carnoustie is this picture, even though showing balmy skies and no hint of a breeze (which conditions were last reported for a two-hour period back in 1845):

Note the foul bushes, deep rough and ubiquitous bunkers.  Now add the aforementioned freezing winds and icy drizzle.  Here’s another pic (note the clouds):

And here’s a more representative one (note the coats):

Someone once said of Carnoustie that it’s a course which will remind you of the Old Testament God — the vengeful, capricious and spiteful God — and not the warm, loving and gentle God of the New Testament with all that kindness and forgiveness nonsense.

Carnoustie just wants to be left alone;  therefore, it hates golfers, forgives nothing, and seems to delight in punishing golfers past all endurance.  One does not play Carnoustie, one attempts to survive it.

Which is why I love to watch The Open when it is played here:  those confident, masterful golfers who stride around the typically comfortable and forgiving U.S. PGA courses while they plot how to get 12 birdies over the last 13 holes;  those same golfers are all humbled here, and are reminded that their skills are pitiful and inadequate as they scramble to salvage pride with a bogey, and consider a par score as remarkable.  Yes, I confess to feeling a profound sense of schadenfreude as I watch those sleek millionaires with their private jets and corporate sponsorships hacking around in the thick bushes and heather like just so many weekend golfers, looking forlornly for a ball which seemed perfectly struck off the tee or fairway, but which was plucked away by a sudden malicious wind and thrown carelessly into one of the countless unplayable lies which fill Carnoustie like so many minefields.

And that’s the rough.  In the fairways and around the greens are deep, unplayable pot-hole bunkers (paradoxically the only places on the course where you don’t feel the wind cutting through your clothing);  and of course, there’s also the Barry Burn, an innocuous name for a treacherous, icy little creek which meanders through part of the course and lies in wait for a ball struck too hard, too soft, or, maddeningly, just right.  (Sometimes a “good” bounce is not what you want…)

The fairways are narrow, which means that every shot off the tee requires a superhuman effort to combine a reading of the gusting winds off the sea with perfect execution of the shot itself.  (In shooter’s terms, you need to be a golfing sniper to succeed here — shotgunners pay a fearful price.)

The winning aggregate score in 1999 was six over par*.  The course measured just over 5,340 yards back then; it now measures close to 7,400 yards.  Nearly a mile-and-a-half more of added torture awaits this year’s crop of human sacrifices qualifiers, and as we all know, the harder you have to hit the ball, the less precise the shot is likely to be.

And Carnoustie’s legendary rough awaits…

The Open is hardly ever played here, I suppose because the Royal & Ancient wants to show a little pity towards professional golfers.  If it were up to me, Carnoustie would host The Open every two years, just to keep everyone humble.

The common argument leveled against golf on TV is that it’s boring.  That is never true of Carnoustie.  This is not golf:  this is a fight for survival, and only the toughest of the tough will survive the tournament.

The Open starts on Thursday July 19, one week from today.  I can’t wait.


* In 2007, the winning score was 11-under, mainly because over the four days of the tournament there was not a drop of rain and the wind was but a gentle breeze.  That won’t happen again.  The 1999 score and conditions were far more in keeping with the spirit of Carnoustie.  We can but hope that Global Warming holds off for a week or two…