Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Looking Back At The 2002 World Cup

Today is June 1st 2022. 

Yesterday, well - it was obviously May 31st. I had written the blog post and was thinking of things I could write about over the upcoming month and knew there was one thing I just had to write about.

I wanted to dedicate at least one post to the 20th anniversary of the 2002 FIFA World Cup - my favourite football tournament both from a wagering and enjoyment perspective.

So, yesterday - I was sat in the living room and mentioned to my family members that 'the 20th anniversary of the 2002 World Cup is coming up. What a time that was'.

I recounted a story of a bet I placed on the opening game. Something I will bring up every now and again to anyone who's willing to listen. Or read. 

'I'm going to write about that game on its anniversary' I thought to myself. 'As soon as I get back to the PC, I'll check out the actual date and then write the post on that day'.

I checked the date of the opener late last night.

May 31 2002.


To be fair, my story really started on May 30th 2002 anyway. I was at the local bookmakers and picked up one of their World Cup betting slips. On the paper, you could have bet on the team you thought would be the tournament winner, who you thought could win the golden boot and there, on the right hand side, was the long list of all the opening group games which allowed you to have a gamble on the match results.

I already had a bet on Brazil to win the tournament. My focus was on the group games.

The first fixture stood out to me. 10/1 for Senegal to beat France. I immediately thought that Senegal was not being respected at all.

'I'm gonna put a fiver on Senegal for sure,' I told my dad.

Then, I looked at all of the other games on the sheet. I noticed a handful of other appealing winners. But then realisation set in.

If I were to win the bet on Senegal, I'd have to sit through the rest of the group games before I could cash in. 

Off I went, back to the betting office, and picked up another betting slip. Instead of sticking around to place my bets, I went back home and filled in both sheets.

The first was the £5 on Senegal. On the second, I had an accumulator with seven or eight results I needed.

With the bets placed the evening before, I sat in my living room the following afternoon watching the opening ceremony and then came time for the kick off.

Senegal surprised the world by beating the French 1-0. That was the post-game narrative, anyway.

As soon as the final whistle blew, I immediately made my trek back to the shop with my winning betting slip. 

'Did you really think they'd win?' the lady behind the counter asked me as she handed over my £55. 

'I wouldn't have bet on them if I didn't.' I responded. 

It's now twenty years later and I still don't regret the cocky retort. She did ask a silly question, am I right?

The winning bet on Senegal was the start of many. I won s betting on Ronaldo and Rivaldo to score any time in their games for Brazil. I also had Ronaldinho in some of those games, but it was Ronaldo and Rivaldo who made me the most from those gambles.

I even won over £65 from the accumulator I placed at the same time as the Senegal gamble.

It wasn't just the fun of the betting which makes me nostalgic for 2002.

With the tourney co-hosted by South Korea and Japan, the early gfgames would kick off in our mornings. I was not acclimatised to watching football at that time of day. Reminding myself of sitting in a pub (with Appletiser because I had to go to work later!), with friends and colleagues, watching football in those 2002 summer mornings brings some good memories back.

I still remind myself of those early kick offs occasionally. Watching New Japan Pro Wrestling live, in what are my mornings, causes those nostalgic flood gates to reopen.

With the G1 Climax on the horizon, maybe it's time to stock up on the Appletiser.

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