Well folks,

It's that time of the year again that sees grown men weeping, women dancing with joy and kids giving an indifferent shrug and returning to their playstation.

The end of the football season.

For nine months, we have followed our team through thick and thin, through good times and bad on the rollercoaster ride of emotions that is Supporting Your Team.

Upon reflection, My Beloved Liverpool had a great season - third in the league with their best league points total in several seasons, winners of the European Super Cup, runners up in the World Club championship (in a match they totally dominated), quarter finals of the Champions League, and last but not least FA Cup winners for the ninth time in what was an amazing cup final last weekend.

An entertaining cup final? Liverpool must be playing.

The feel good factor is back at Anfield - and long may it continue.

But before you switch off - this is not a football related blog - no, not at all but rather the void that is left behind once the season finishes, is the subject matter de jour.

Of course this year is somewhat different - we have the mouth-watering prospect of a World Cup on our doorstep to look forward to with the tournament in Germany kicking off three weeks from today.

I love the World Cup and strangely enough - so do most of the girls I know. They seem to get caught up in the event in a way that the regular football season can never achieve - perhaps it's the opportunity to watch all those Latino Gods running about the pitch with their olive skin and piercing eyes, or maybe it's the samba and the salsa of our South American cousins, the spectacular colours and boisterous dancing of the African support or even the square jawed, athletic Scandinavians that awaken the fairer sex's interest in The Beautiful Game.

Whatever it is, the female interest in football is a welcome, if only all too brief addition to the ritual of watching sport, for we all know that once the season comes around again, us good men-folk will be going back to our seats at the bar, having just been on the receiving end of a bit of verbal from the missus about “spending too much time down in that bloody pub with your bloody mates watching bloody football.”

So yes – I enjoy the world cup.

But that is three weeks away.

21 days.

504 hours.

30,240 minutes.

181…. Anyway, I think you get the picture.

So what in the meantime then?

Quite simply – there is only one thing that reawakens international rivalries, cements bonds with near neighbours and shows to the rest of the world just what a weird and eclectic bunch of people we Europeans really are.

If aliens were to visit from outer space for a bit of a nosey, we could show them highlights of the last 50 years of the Eurovision Song Contest and proudly say “We are Europe – this is who we are!”

If that didn’t have them scurrying away in their space ships back to planet Zagrovia, then nothing would.

Or is Zagrovia one of those new eastern European countries that compete in the contest these days?

Yes, tomorrow is Eurovision Song Contest time and I absolutely love it.

The whole show is a wonderful microcosm of this part of planet Earth - the farcical voting indicative of the internal squabbles within Europe’s confines, the terrible costumes, the God-awful songs with the inane lyrics and all this mayhem presided over by BBC’s commentator on the proceedings, the wonderfully sardonic Terry Wogan.

Surely Mr. Wogan’s rasion d’ĂȘtre, the show is tailor made for his dry wit and acerbic observations and as a viewer; we share in his chuckles of disbelief and gasps of horror at the car crash TV that unfolds before our very eyes.

Rather unsurprisingly, the country that has won this international pantomime more times than any other, is my homeland of Ireland. After all – a country that has remained neutral throughout every war (except its own), has given The Irish Pub to the world with its accompanying Guinness hangover and exported such musical greats as Stiff Little Fingers, Van Morrison, U2, Sinead O’Connor, Snow Patrol and the wonderful Therapy? must surely be in contention for the top prize, year in, year out.

And then you have a look at who we won it with.

Johnny “Mr. Eurovision” Logan, with his absolutely unforgivable mullet hairstyle and even more heinous gleaming white suit will be forever embedded in most people’s lasting memories of the contest. And this is a guy who, not only content with winning the event twice – went on to write a third winning song back in Ireland’s Eurovision halcyon days of the 80’s and 90’s.

My Eurovision claim to fame? Another Irish winner, the delightful Naimh Kavanagh, who won with “In Your Eyes” - once went on a drunken binge with me in Antwerp.

OK – slight exaggeration – what I meant to say was that I was drunk in the pub that she was performing in and I asked to have her babies, a hard-to-refuse offer that she, in fact, refused. And her heavily pregnant at the time.


So happy were we with all this adulation from our European cousins that we didn’t realise they were all taking the piss out of us –the winning country having the dubious (and bloody expensive) honour of organising the whole shenanigans the following year.

Indeed when Ireland won it 3 times in a row in the 90’s (a feat never achieved before or since), Ireland’s new found prosperity, ironically achieved thanks in no small fashion to financial help from the ‘European Old Boy’s Network’ that is the EEC, was in serious danger of being dented.

The Celtic Tiger was cowering in the corner at the thought of hosting another event and offered – with the advent of peace of course – the event to Northern Ireland.

The Republic of Ireland authorities were threatened with kneecappings and punishment beatings if they chanced their arm like that again.

So, the event was given to Cork who jumped at the chance to prove to the world that Cork was in fact the REAL capital of Ireland and they could put on a show that would be far better than anything that “shower of shite from Dublin” could do.

Sadly the economic implications had a lasting affect and a different selection policy was thereafter adopted by the Irish, unofficially known as the “let’s pick the WORST singers ever and make bloody well sure we never, ever win the damn thing again” policy.

You only have to look at some of the entries that have represented Ireland in the intervening years to see that this policy has been a huge success - choosing The Mullans was nothing short of inspired.

Then, there was also the rather weird event of an Israeli winner. For a start – Israel is not even in Europe but apparently as long as the European Broadcasting Union can transmit to you, you’re in. But as if this wasn’t weird enough – the winner was a transsexual. Could the contest get any weirder?

Of course it could.

A strange development then occurred – one that was to have serious repercussions on the Eurovision Song Contest as a whole – the borders of Europe changed and suddenly where there had just simply been Russia and Yugoslavia, we now had Latvia, Lithuania, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, and lots of other bloody countries that ended in “ia”.

These were the New Kids on the Block and they had fire in their bellies.

So proud that they were to be their own countries, with their own identity, they promptly entered into the Eurovision song contest with great gusto and enthusiasm, displaying a “blood is thicker than water” bond with all their neighbouring newly-created countries who they were pally with and a fierce “Nul Point” for their enemies.

Here they had a platform to forge friendships, pledge allegiances and alienate enemies.

Suddenly such hitherto relatively unknown European outhouses such as Estonia and Latvia were walking away with the biggest prize in European pop music. Allegedly.

Something had to be done about it and something has.

The Irish are taking it seriously again.

This year, in Athens the ancient birthplace of Europe, it is only fitting that the Irish are launching a full frontal attack to wrestle the title back to its rightful home.

For into the Coliseum steps the Gladiator – Mr. Brian Kennedy.

Make no bones about it – by nominating Brian we are making a huge statement of intent.
This guy is a brilliant singer and has graced the stage with the likes of Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker and Ray Charles.

We are not messing around this year.

To make the evening all the more enjoyable for me, he’s a fellow Belfast lad, giving me further ammunition (pun intended) to shout “He’s from Northern Ireland!” every time somebody from my homeland graces the TV.

I fear for the patrons of the pub that I shall be watching proceedings in tomorrow evening.

Brian also performed a memorable and powerful version of ‘You Raise Me Up’ at the funeral of football legend George Best in December 2005.

As an interesting footnote, it will be the 1000th song ever performed at the contest.

He will perform ‘Every Song is a Cry for Love’, a song written by himself and has been selected by the Irish public.

The people of Ireland have spoken.

You have been warned.


Jenny Okanagan said…
Mr. Kennedy has a lovely voice sure enough, but...
Long live Finnish Orc-Metal!!!