Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Misery whore! So See A Darkness was once christened by this sorry individual. The gypsy was wrong, of course. SAD doesn`t love misery. Nor does he seek it out. Nor does he perform sexual favours in exchange for it (though in terms of new business opportunities it might not be such a bad idea). In fact it`s the other way around. Misery tracks down SAD like a hungry bloodhound.

Take Saturday, for example. SAD didn`t go to the Serra Dourada, in Goiania, amidst an apocalyptic rainstorm, specifically in search of misery. He went in the expectation of seeing a robust, fairly played out sporting contest between Vila Nova Sub-16 and Recife B. Were Vila Nova to win the game, so condemning Recife B to another doleful year in Serie B, why, that would merely have been a bonus.

To begin, an aside for lovers of nature. This is the time of year when that rare bird malus brancus makes its appearance in the skies above Brazilian football grounds. Before the game, Vila Nova Sub-16 were allegedly promised anything from R$3 to R$3 million by Recife B`s forlorn promotion rivals Vitoria and Bragantino, if they could manage to hold Recife B to a draw.

The very lucky few might catch a glimpse of the even rarer malus pretus. Whereas malus brancus is a friendly, good natured beast, malus pretus is a sinister, unlovable predator. SAD thinks he spotted malus pretus above the Serra Dourada on Saturday, but he can’t be sure.

Still, how else might the amateur ornithologist explain the generosity of Recife B`s directors in buying up 7,000 tickets for the game (at R$50 each, after Vila had jacked up their prices), full in the knowledge that fewer than 2,000 Recife B supporters would make the journey? The directors of already relegated Vila were no doubt most grateful. Only the worst kind of cynic would suggest that news of Recife B`s generosity (or even some of the R$350,000 itself) might have trickled down to the players and coaching staff of Vila Nova Sub-16. SAD, of course, is no such cynic.

By the time SAD takes his seat in a sodden and almost entirely empty Serra Dourada the game has already started. Like toddlers in need of burping, the Recife B fans are making a lot of noise in the rain over on one side. Around fifty Vila Nova supporters, and six tricolores (including SAD), sit in weary silence on the other.

For around 45 minutes things go really rather well indeed. The mighty Boa Esporte go 2-0 up against Duque De Caxias in Rio, claiming, temporarily at least, the last promotion spot. In the rain, Recife B struggle mightily. Vila Nova Sub-16 miss two clear chances. Enthused, SAD slaps his neighbour heartily on the back. Santa are champions of Pernambuco, free of the infernal Serie D at last, and now Recife B are blowing it all at the last hurdle – could 2011 get any better?

They sell beer inside the Serra Dourada, making it, in SAD`s book, an excellent spot for the footballing tourist. As a result, the half-time break fairly flies past. Further interval entertainment is provided by ten or twelve members of Vila Nova`s Comando Vermelho, who decide to run, or swim, all the way around the stadium to start a fight with some Recife B supporters. The police chuck some tear gas about and the ten or twelve members of Vila Nova’s Comando Vermelho run all the way back to their seats.

It is around ten minutes into the second half, with the rain coming down in thick grey sheets and the pitch almost underwater, that things start to go wrong. Recife B have improved. Vila Nova Sub-16, it is clear, will not score on this or any other day. SAD remembers the old Tom Zé song.

Tristeza não tem fim, felicidade sim. Sadness has no end, but happiness surely bloody does.

With terrible clarity the impossibility of a happy ending becomes apparent, and SAD understands not just the foolishness, but also the moral bankruptcy, of his mission. His own team is not playing here today. Worse, the result of Vila Nova Sub-16 v Recife B will not even directly affect O Mais Querido. And yet, instead of spending his Saturday sitting at home eating chocolate biscuits and watching teeth-grindingly awful Brazilian television, here SAD is, metaphorically clothed in black, spewing ill will, emitting only doom and gloom.
Secar, they call it in these parts. To cheer against a rival, to support a team that you don`t even like in the hope that someone you like even less will be vanquished. To pray for only defeat. It`s a shoddy, depressing business. And it almost never works. 

SAD has previous. For long years he secared Recife B`s better looking older sister, Man Utd. The predictable result was that Man Utd won everything in sight. In 2008 he secared Recife B in the Copa Do Brasil. The predictable result was that Recife B won the Copa Do Brasil.

With about 15 minutes left, with dreadful inevitability, Recife B score. The other side of the ground explodes. After the final whistle, the supporters of Recife B run onto the pitch. A few of them advance towards the fistful of Vila Nova fans. One of them decides that the most appropriate way to celebrate the promotion of one`s football team is to reveal one`s genitalia to an almost empty football stadium. SAD, while oddly fascinated, takes this as his cue to leave. As he slumps towards the exit, he swears never to secar again, knowing, of course, that he will secar again at the first opportunity (the Figueirense v Corinthians game the next day).

SAD walks home through the darkening night and the Book of Revelations rain with much to ponder. Does that perfect football year, when one`s team romps to glorious triumph after glorious triumph, while hated rivals are utterly and repeatedly humiliated, really exist? Is it wrong to wish ill on someone else, even a football team? What strange motivation had made SAD spend his Saturday afternoon in the rain, cheering on the reserve team of a club which had not won for 12 games and which he did not support, full in the knowledge that they had absolutely no chance of victory? Will the world record for the number of car horns beeped in an hour be broken in Recife that night? Will it ever stop raining? Why does it rain anyway? Why don`t bicycles fall over? Will Francis Begbie really make SAD watch the first three films in the Twilight saga when he gets home, as promised/threatened, in preparation for the final, castrating blow that will be a visit to the cinema the next day, to see the fourth?

The answers to the above questions and more may or may not be revealed in future editions of See A Darkness.     

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