Thursday, 17 June 2010

Blog #1: Thank you!

#1 on the list of sentences I never thought I would say: I'm going to South Africa for the World Cup Final.

I won an all expenses paid trip to the World Cup Final in a Hyundai contest run through Facebook, where contestants campaigned for votes after submitting a video that explained "What Would You Trade?" to be there (in my case, my collection of football shirts)

I'm quite sure everyone and their cat knows this already, as I won by pestering friends, family and strangers into submission for their votes.

It is now days since I won, and I have come to terms with it about as well as if you had told me my mum captained the World Cup winning England side of 1966.

The whole thing (the trip that is, not Bobby Moore being my mother) is so unimaginable that I won't be able to fully believe it is happening until the referee blows his whistle to call time on the tournament, and Gökhan Inler holds the golden trophy aloft for Switzerland.

Okay, maybe a Swiss win is going too far, but in a week where I booked a seat in Soccer City, anything is possible!

In fact, the morning after winning, I did genuinely roll over in bed and ask my wife: "Was it all a dream?!"

As a means to update the hundreds of wonderful, amazing friends who sent me on my once-in-a-lifetime trip, I thought I'd start this little blog, World Cup Trumpet. And I mean that in the Scottish sense - "Hoa you, ya trumpet!" - rather than the African, sound-of-a-50-foot bee trumpet.

Speaking of, first thing on the list of what to pack for the plane to Johannesburg must be an empty suitcase for the huge number of vuvezelas I have been asked to bring back! If Scottish Premier League grounds reverberate with the sounds of buzzing horns next season, you know who to blame.

Down to business, and before I can start blogging on the World Cup tournament and Final itself, I should really just start by putting into context how much this means to me, for anyone who doesn't know me that well.

My dad is all too aware how big this is for me. The man who has been by my side at a miserable, wet or snow-covered Rugby Park so many times over the years; the guy who echoes my touchline abuse at Scottish juniors games week in, week out; who bought me season tickets and football strips every August for my birthday (which is in November, by the way); and who once decorated my room with Kilmarnock FC curtains, bed sheets, alarm clocks and memorabilia.

He summed the enormity of it all up on Wednesday night when he said: "Noone deserves it more than you. You are truly the saddest, most obsessive football fan I know."

Maybe if I was Brazilian with an Old Trafford season ticket, the chance to see 22 of the world's best players fight for the ultimate glory would seem less special. I don't know. What I do realise is that as a guy who has grown up standing with two hundred or so fans at derelict juniors grounds, suffering yet another 11th-placed finish with the mighty Killie, or crying into my scarf at the end of another close-but-no-cigar Scottish qualifying effort, this will truly be the only chance I get to bask in the glory of International football heaven.

I was all too aware of this from the second that I opened that winning email, and my reaction was taken from the same page as the infamous "Nintendo 64 kid." The World Cup hasn't provoked tears like mine since Gazza in 1990.

All I can say is a massive "Thank you!" to everyone who took the time to vote and harass their friends, work colleagues or pets into doing the same. The response was like nothing I have ever seen and really made me appreciate what an amazing bunch of friends and family I have been blessed with.

It means so much to me that I already have plans to commemorate the whole thing with a tattoo. Hopefully this one will be a better success than my first ink, the Biffy Clyro 'b' symbol, which everyone has mistaken for the logo.

So, keep checking back for more updates from the World Cup Trumpet and once again... Thank you!

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