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Jacob Sweetman: You can pun, but you cannot hide

Get your bunting out, it's the EXBERLINER Sportsdesk's first birthday. I'll see you all round Lothar Matthäus' house for cake, tea and pinning the tail on the supermodel from the former Soviet Union.

Image for Jacob Sweetman: You can pun, but you cannot hide
Photo by Matzeachmann (Wikimedia CC)

It’s the Sportsdesk’s birthday! A year old this week, and my, how it’s grown. Having started off as a little tyke last year, getting the programme for the 11mm – 7th annual International Football Film Festival so skewiff that I missed everything that I wanted to see, is exactly how our now venerable institution has moved into its second year. Brilliant.

It’s doubtful that I really wanted to see One Night in Turin on the big screen anyway. I hate to be reminded of Chris Waddle’s semi-final penalty miss against Germany, and I cried like a baby watching it on the small screen as Bobby Robson’s final words to Gazza are subtitled. He has his arm around him, and they are both in tears. “It’s alright son, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you, you’ll have more of these tournaments to play in. You have been one of the stars” pretty much sums it up: the wise old man with the “daft as a brush” youngster. One sadly dead now, one sadly mental. It was like a Geordie Brief Encounter.

But worse than that is the sheer magnanimity shown by Lothar Matthäus at the end of the film. He follows Waddle back after his missed penalty, his arm around him, all the way to the rest of the English team – never stopping his consoling, never gloating or beating his chest at having got through to another World Cup final. It is a staggeringly long shot – it lasts for all of “Nessun dorma” – and one I’ve never seen before.

I suspect that this is because the world’s media would lose so much if it turned out that Lothar Matthäus was a nice guy. He may be about the same height as Pablo Picasso, Iggy Pop and Shakira, but is not as loved. Despite having played for Germany more times than anyone else he seems to be as disliked here as he is in England. If he found redemption, we would have to feel sympathy for his inability to find the right woman to marry, and would have to stop sniggering into our BZs every time they link him with another second rate managerial job. Everyone has a vested interest in Matthäus remaining as the tabloid idiot “Loddar“, and long may it continue. He, by the way, may get back together with Liliana again.

So this regular ineptitude aside – the Sportsdesk’s second appearance was at the ice hockey, where I had to borrow a pen off the serious journalist next to me. He looked disapproving, as if he knew that there is nothing in Slapshot that explains the rules of the sport, let alone the score sheets, so I understood as much of what was going on as a fat old man in an American Apparel advert. Just watching a Paul Newman film about a sport, apparently, doesn’t constitute research for some. Well, welcome to the Sportsdesk, I say.

It just leads me to thank our indefatigable editors, Heather and Walter without whom any of these rambles would have fallen as flat as a poisoned polar bear with mental health issues. To everyone at the EXBERLINER and everyone at the sports clubs and teams in Berlin. There are far too many of you to mention, but some of us will never forget the opportunities you have given a stoned Ausländer with a lifelong ambition to draw a parallel between groups of men running around a field and the works of Willie Nelson. I salute you. And here’s to another year.