Monday, 17 October 2011

At about 7pm on Sunday (it`s horario de Brasilia all the way for See A Darkness these days), 60,000 people in Recife rub their eyes and jump up and down and look to the stars and give out great screams of relief and joy. At the same time one person (See A Darkness, of course) does the same thing in a small gloomy kitnet on Rua 91, Setor Sul, Goiania.

Francis Begbie, SAD`s loyal companion, asks him what all the excitement is about. Even though he`s been explaining patiently for the last week what all the excitement is about.

Santa have done it, SAD cries, they`ve drawn with Treze, and now they`ll be in Serie C next year!

A draw?, says Begbie. So they didn`t even win?

Shut it woman!, bellows SAD, still jumping around the room.  

Begbie gives SAD a steely look. She picks up purse and keys and leaves the gloomy kitnet, slamming the door behind her. Like Captain Oates, she may be gone for some time.

But it`s not her fault, really.

Because it was SAD, not Begbie, who was sitting in a grimy bar in Pelourinho (why he can hardly remember) in August 2008 when Santa drew disastrously with Campinense at home and fell like a stone into the newly created Serie D.

Serie D?, yelled SAD at The Ex-Girlfriend, on the other end of the line in Recife, much to the amusement of the hookers and beggars and other assorted human detritus around him. What the hell is Serie D? Who plays in Serie D? They can`t be in Serie D. They`ll sort it out. Someone will be kicked out of Serie C, or something like that.

SAD was obviously forgetting for a moment the difference between being a big, poor club from the nordeste, and being a big, powerful club like, say, River Plate, or Fluminense, for whom rules are bent and backhanders made so that the day may be saved. No rules were bent to save Santa. And nor should they have been.

Darkness reigned.

Begbie wasn`t there in 2009, either, when Santa, during their first calamitous tour through Serie D, lost on successive Saturdays to Sergipe, and then followed up by losing away to Central. She wasn`t there on that truly awful afternoon in August that year when Santa, needing just a win to make the next phase, could only draw 2-2 with CSA at Arruda, with 30,000 baying from the stands and screaming and clutching their chests before finally drifting off, silently, into the night.

And in September last year, wherever she was, she wasn`t spending 20 hours on a bus to get to bloody Sobral, Ceará. She didn`t see Santa score two own goals in front of 55,000 in the first game at Arruda, before coming from behind to record a slapstick 4-3 victory. She didn`t see Sobral win the return leg 2-0, all too predictably, the week after. She didn`t then spend 20 hours on a bus on the way home from Sobral, trying very hard to think of a reason, any reason, to get out of bed the next day, or the day after that, or the day after that.
   
So it`s hard to blame Begbie. She can`t be expected to know how it feels now that it`s finally over, how even from far away it feels a million times better than the Campeonato Pernambuco victory over Recife B, because that was really just local bragging rights, whereas this promises, somewhere down the line, dignity, and self-respect, and a brighter future.

Finally, she can`t know how marvelous it feels to at last be able to say to the likes of Sergipe, Confianca, Potiguar of Mossoró, the evil other Santa Cruz of Rio Grande Do Norte, Guarani of Juazeiro Do Norte, Alecrim, Coruripe and Treze….we`ll never play you again, we`ll never play you again.

Ever. Or at least until the next time. 

Note: Begbie returned some time later, without any noticeable frostbite wounds.

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