Belfast Telegraph

The USA are VG in BC, says JP

When Jacqui Oatley came on at the start of the Women's World Cup final to tell us that protagonists Japan and the USA had "a bit of previous" I was a little alarmed as to where this may take us.

Thankfully, this paddle down potentially choppy diplomatic waters was nipped in the bud by a piece of textbook BBC xenophobia that her male counterparts would have heartily applauded.

"We saw Japan just nudge their way past England," she said, bitterly, although that may have more to do with the fact that she was stuck back in the studio while Jonathan Pearce was galloping about the wilds of British Columbia like a caribou on heat.

His unlikely sidekick was Sue Smith, a small Scouse pixie with mad hair, best remembered as an England midfielder and best forgotten for being on that truly awful Wayne Rooney keepy-up programme that used to be on Sky.

Still, England were out, but had, somehow, won the European Championships by beating Germany in the third and fourth-place play-off, so no more need to mention them then.

"It's such a shame England aren't here, I feel absolutely sure they would have won today and lifted the World Cup," began Pearce, who had clearly been affected by the fumes from the wildfires not far from BC Place - that's the name of the stadium, not a prehistoric-themed eatery.

"But what an achievement for them and the women's game in England to finish third, but here in Vancouver, the last staging post for dreamers seeking their fortune in the Klondyke gold rush of another age, it's Japan against USA for World Cup gold," he continued as we doused ourselves in petrol and looked for the nearest wildfire.

Four goals in 16 minutes for the USA cast a little cloud of doubt on Pearce's confident prediction that England's lionesses would have savaged the Americans, but then again they would probably have had the wisdom to defend and not pick a goalkeeper who may well have been missing six close friends.

Carli Lloyd helped herself to a hat-trick, the first person to do so in a World Cup final since, oh, I can't think, perhaps Pearce may know but he had other things to muse on.

"Is it wrong, Sue, if they had dodged ill fortune, England would have won this World Cup today?" he asked.

"No, I'm with you on that," she surprisingly concurred, although at least they did praise the American display and the wonderful third goal from Lloyd who lobbed the keeper from the halfway line to complete her hat-trick.

In fairness she could have lobbed her from the edge of the six-yard box but let's not take anything away from Lloyd, who plays for the Houston Dash, but is believed to be attracting interest from the Quebec Question Marks and the San Francisco Semicolons. I may have made some of that up.

If you think that's surreal it's nothing as to what happened next as Pearce, desperate to keep people watching, completely lost the run of himself.

"You certainly can't say the USA have pipped Japan. Authorities in Vancouver are looking for a cherry thief," he said as we began to wonder what exactly was burning in BC.

"The breakfast in the hotel is big enough but you wouldn't think someone would steal cherries and put them in their handbag for the game, would you?" Jonathan, what you do on tour, stays on tour.

Sue held her hands up and pleaded guilty as charged, as Pearce tucked into his rucksack full of pancakes and opened a barrel of maple syrup, and all he needed was some pork-based delicacies to go with them.

"We've had a lot of fun, the US announcer kept calling the great German striker Celia Sasic, Celia Sausage and when he said it, it sounded like that Esther Rantzen programme, That's Life, the dog that used to say 'sausages'."

I am pretty sure this actually was said but it was getting late and maybe the fumes were affecting me too and while the second-half was a much closer affair, Pearce had long since lost interest.

"Vancouver is a wonderful city to party in if you ever get a chance to come here, the mountains and the seas, whale watching and so on, it's fantastic," he said, although the whales may not be so keen to see more Japanese visitors.

And then it was all over, and in Jerry Springer style, what conclusions can we draw?

Well, England would have won, obviously, Japan have all the safe keeping of a Greek banker and America have finally won a 'world' event that features teams from another country. Oh, and Jonathan Pearce is clearly as mad as a box of bewildered beavers.

Belfast Telegraph


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