And we’re off.
“Is it not over yet?” asked a heathen yesterday, but to be honest, it did feel like the build-up to it all began when Methuselah was a nipper. But we’re up and running and there are all kinds of treats in store.
Eg: "If England get to the quarter-finals, I will show up with a dress on."
As soon as he said it you sensed Eamon Dunphy had his regrets, but he wasn't half as anxious looking as John Giles, nor as exultant as Roy Hodgson, who's now a cert to be knighted by the end of the year for leading Eng-er-land to the last eight. At least.
Mind you, there already appeared to be some cross-dressing going on in the Montrose studio after the opening ceremony. After a quick visit to ITV, where Glenn Hoddle's shorts had us scurrying, somewhat traumatised, back to Bill and the lads, it appeared the panel had transmuted in to Marge, Lisa and Maggie, until you realised RTÉ had taken a break from Brazil between the opening ceremony and Game One for The Simpsons.
Odd, that, but no odder than the opening ceremony which featured walking trees, people trapped in flowers, gymnasts with footballs for heads, canoes, an exceedingly tall big-bosomed lady embedded in a ball, and, of course, men on stilts.
"There are always men on stilts," as Clive Tyldesley put it, and he wasn't wrong.
Ray Houghton fell silent through it all, leaving George Hamilton to plough the loneliest of opening ceremony furrows, his discombobulation even resulting in him confusing a trampoline for a bouncy castle, before a little fella dressed as a referee, brandishing a red card, appeared in the midst of it all.
“Too much dancing, get off the pitch, time for football,” said George, somewhat passionately, Ray still nowhere to be heard, but we’d hardly begun, JLo and Pitbull still to come, and some more people trapped in flowers.
(Incidentally, when the RTÉ announcer person introduced us to the channel's World Cup coverage yesterday she promised us "Bill and the boys – with a cameo from J Lo", prompting a "whaaaat?" when we'd only heard about star guests Neil Lennon and Didi Hamann. False advertising, that. We'd give anything to see Gilesie talk formations with J Lo.)
Any way, we opened on a cheerful note, with footage of a Brazilian police person spraying a pepper-like substance in to the eyes of a protestor, “tear gas, stun grenades, riots, violence and protests,” said Bill O’Herlihy, lest we fell for those ads that bedevilled our viewing, trying to persuade us it was happy-clappy-a-arama.
Over on ITV, the beach-bound Hoddle, barely able to breathe in those buttock-clenching shorts, with Gordon Strachan beside him turning a redder shade of ginger, was befuddled by the absence of World Cup fever in a country where, the Dunph told us, "the Fifa ball costs the same as the average week's wages for the Brazilian worker."
At which point you were tempted to switch over to Eastenders, in a telly-boycott kind of way.
But, World Cup football. Too damn hard to resist.
Any way, as Ian Wrightie Wright, Hoddle and Strachan's beach host, reassured us, if Brazil won their opening game "I fink" it'll be all good.
That Marcelo own goal didn’t help, but the equaliser and host-friendly penalty did the trick. The RTÉ panel, though, was largely unmoved. As two thirds of them had been about the hosts’ hopes before the game.
Eamon: "David Luiz is silly, he's a nuisance. He would be a liability even if he played in the League of Ireland"
“I don’t see him standing anywhere near the trophy come the end of the tournament
Bill: “You might be wearing the dress twice.”
And then we had a ding dong about whether Brazil had any half decent lads, Liam declaring that Paulinho, for one, is “a great player.”
Eamon: “John, do you think Paulinho is a great player?”
John: “I don’t think he’s a good player.”
No promise, though, from Gilesie that he'd dress as J.Lo if Paulinho ran the show against Croatia.
(The biggest World Cup sadness? Sky Sports have no coverage. So, we’re deprived of Paul Merson’s expertise.
Iran v Nigeria?
"If I'm being honest I don't know too much about Iran and that's why I've got to tip Nigeria. "
“The problem with
is that it’s usually – 25 degrees over there – we talk about us worrying about the weather but how are they going to cope with it?”
As Football 365 pointed out: Average Moscow temperature during June, July and August: 23 degrees.)
Any way. A bit of a struggled for Brazil in their opener, 1-1 at half-time.
Gilesie: “I think it’ll be 3-1, Bill.” Mystic Meg.
Back on ITV, Carlos Alberto winked at us. Be still our beating hearts. You'd almost forgive Glenn's shorts and Wrightie's mouth.
Yup, we’re up and running. Just the 63 matches to go. Not half enough, but it’ll do.