It all started inauspiciously enough – had to go back to feed the forgotten animals, walked to the wrong local station, arrived at the right local station to find no travel card, at journey’s end came out of the wrong station exit. Was this all a very ill omen or perhaps a conduit in the universal bad luck channel diverting some, at least, away from the Black Stars?
Up in north London the evening sun was golden, an aroma of woodsmoke was fanned by the slipstream of the passing buses and the pavements raucous with the banter of sunning saunterers. So we missed the kick-off. Too bad.
At the door of the bar we realised just how bad. Ghana were one-nil up we were told by the jubilant young man outside. Already? Could this be true? Oh yes!
The bar was small and packed. An enterprising remittance company had produced free bags containing a castanet-type rattle in the team colours in the shape of hands which clapped when shaken. Subsequently every series of passes, every successful tackle, in fact pretty much any time a Black Star player even looked at the ball evoked a crescendo of plastic claques to accompany the flag-waving.
Adversity, on the other hand, was signalled by silent stillness. Oh that penalty.
That, however, was later. At half time we were still one-nil up and the break provided the opportunity for in-depth analysis
and that fervent fellowship denoted by the blaring of car horns
I had to leave at the 73rd minute with the score still one all. The celebrations at the end of extra time were, apparently, spectacular.
Roll on next Friday.