The Old Man of the Forest

[The following text was washed up on an oil slick off the Florida Keys. It has no known authorship except for an ‘Earnest H.’ scribbled in a margin. It is unknown if ‘Earnest’ is a given name or a simple adjective. Regardless of whether or not his parents could spell, the text bears a striking resemblance to current events and is published here unedited for reader interest. – Ed.]

The Old Man looked at his bench. He was old and he was wise but he was not so old and sometimes his nose looked bigger than at other times. His men were young and tall and handsome and had names like el Niño and el Guaje and el Santo and others were not so tall and had names like el Chino and others were not tall or handsome and had names like el Puyi. They all called him el Míster.

He had come with them to Africa to hunt for big games and they had hunted and hunted until they reached the biggest game of them all. It had not been easy. They had had a hell of a time. They had played open and easy and fast but the others had played hard and tall and tight. They had played the beautiful game but sometimes they had lost. The Swiss had when they had not and then they had and the Chileans had not and then they had and the Paraguayans had not and then the Germans had not and they had had.

It was winter in Africa but it was Spain in July. Some of his men wore a red kerchief to train. They wore a red kerchief because it was San Fermín in Pamplona. It was fiesta and they wished to run with the bulls. In the morning the men sang with their newspapers and then the firecracker went off and the bulls came out and they ran through the town. Usually no one got hurt except for a foreigner or two. Occasionally they were Spanish but usually they were British but mostly they were American. The Americans had enthusiasm but they did not have afición. They did foolish things like show up drunk and run to the outside and get curious about the strays. If someone died in the morning there would still be death in the afternoon. And then in the evening everyone went to the plaza to watch the Copa. Some had afición for the corrida and some had afición for la Copa and most only had afición for fiesta and copas, but it was fiesta and la Copa and they were the afición and the Old Man was grateful.

He had not had rules like other coaches but there were rules. The men knew the rules but the women did not or they did know the rules and broke them anyway, the bitches. The Old Man thought of the lady reporter. Not the lady reporter who had married a prince and now was having a hell of a happy time with the Asturian aristocracy. She jumped and shouted like the afición and unlike a reporter or a princess, the Old Man thought. No, he thought of the lady reporter who was young and beautiful and stood at the sidelines by his captain and threw him off his game. She knew the rules but she stood there anyway and everyone thought she ought to feel such a bitch. The Old Man said nothing and the young captain said nothing but the beautiful bitchy lady reporter stayed away after that. The other lady was a real lady. She was not young and she was not beautiful and she was not a bitch but a real princess who sat in her seat and clapped when they had and folded her hands in her lap when they had not. She had come to the lockers to see the young men after the game and the Old Man wished she had not but they must have told her it was all right. She was quite charming and they all felt embarassed but quite bucked up and that was all right.

The Old Man did not know what would happen. He thought he knew but he wasn’t sure. He thought about resting el Niño again but el Niño was a striker and if you bench a striker he will be no good. He thought about starting el Guaje but el Guaje had played and played and el Niño had not. Everyone wanted el Chino to play with el Guaje but he did not. No one wanted him to double the midfield but he did. They talked about him in Africa and they talked about him in Spain and they talked about him in Araby, the bastards, but they had not won and he had won. His men had scored many goals and their men had scored nada. His men had scored from midfield and they had scored off the post and they had scored with their big lion heads. So Spain had a gol and Chile had nada and Paraguay had nada and Germany, Germany who had four goals when Australia had nada and when Ghana had nada and when Argentina had nada, Germany had nada.

After the Big Game the Old Man would go home. He would go home to Madrid and he would eat a big meal and it would take a lot of wine to wash it all down. If they won he would go to el Botín which is very old and the best restaurant in Madrid and he would order cochinillo and wash it down with a good rioja. And if they lost he would go to O’Pulpo and order the house specialty a la gallega and wash it down with a fine sidra because the pulpo had said he would win, the bastard.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Posts

Written by:

SoccerMom obsesses over FCB and this blog instead of grading papers, burning dinner and/or raising her small children. She blames a Spanish husband and easy access to Hispanic-targeted cable sports channels for her football addiction and consequent failure as a professor, housekeeper and mother.


  1. y2k156
    July 10, 2010

    Really excellent piece of writing.

    EH and BD is quite a comparision:).

  2. fcbfan
    July 10, 2010

    Hi SoccerMom, love it!

    Thepiece on Moo Moo Mourinho is still my fav though 😀

  3. fcbfan
    July 10, 2010

    Good thing Puyol plans to retire from the nt cause I have a feeling both him and Pique will be overworked coming season with Chiggy, Yaya and possibly Marquez gone. Clasico will be interesting with EE now having Di Maria, Higuain and thong boy. We are selling useful defenders right and left, and our presi is only interested chasing a 50 mil worth bench warmer, and more attackers.

  4. Jim
    July 10, 2010

    This blog never fails to amaze. Brilliantly done in the style of Hemingway, soccermum. OK, Kxevin, you next – Salinger or Steinbeck? 🙂

    • Luke
      July 10, 2010

      If I could write like Steinbeck, I wouldn’t be writing here.

  5. Kari
    July 10, 2010

    “Everyone wanted el Chino to play with el Guaje but he did not.”

    You’re mocking me, SoMa, aren’t you?! AREN’T YOU?!


  6. lovelymofo
    July 10, 2010

    Oh you writerly types! Shakes fist. It’s too early for pretty prose! Good stuff SoMa!

    Excited for tomorrow!

    • Kari
      July 10, 2010

      Me too, me too!

      I’m thinking of getting myself a “XAVINIESTA 68 or 86” Spain or Barca jersey.

      Maybe if Spain win the WC…. (Who am I kidding? I’ll get it anyway! :D)

      Who’s watching the third place game (how cruel)?

      I might as well. T

      • Blow-Grenade
        July 10, 2010

        What a first half – Deutchland vs Paraguay. Both teams are worth their money for the 3rd spot so far.

    • July 10, 2010

      to you its too early.
      but for me, its too late to read
      im not even gonna watch the 2rd place final.its 2am.yawn

      • lovelymofo
        July 10, 2010

        Well, right now its 11:08 am, which isn’t too early, but it is too early on a Saturday when I’m stuck at work and can’t watch futbol. Even tho, we all know I’m going to be watching it on a little screen.

        Dude, that’s such a good idea Kari! Also, I’m crossing my fingers for a Xaviniesta display that will leave us gasping with delight! Seriously, I want them to dazzle. I’m never good with predictions, but I had a feeling Spain would beat Germany and I have a feeling they’ll beat Holland. And I’m hoping it’s like Barça’s Champions League final against ManU – where everyone will be saying that Holland didn’t play very well and we’ll know that what that really means is that Spain locked that shit down and controlled the match.

        And I hope both Villa and Iniesta score. Or Pedro. Or even Torres – I feel bad for him. Think he’s a good player, he just has no confidence and is out of form.

  7. Kari
    July 10, 2010

    Mini-Glossary for the poor people who might be lost:

    Pulpo = Octopus; in this article, SoMom is referring to Paul the octopus who “predicts” a Spanish victory in the WC final.)

    Old Man = Del Bosque (me loves SoMa title to the article 😀 Vicente Del Bosque means Vincent of the Forest in English)

    el Chino = David Silva

    el Guaje = David Villa

    el Niño = Torres

    afición = supporters/fans; can also mean fondness/liking (correct me if I’m wrong)

    Feel free to add some more if you want.

    Another SoMa classic 🙂

    • July 10, 2010

      thanks kari.
      damn.i feel asleep after the 1st paragraph.could hardly follow 🙁
      and its too damn late for my brain to function 100%

  8. Miguel
    July 10, 2010

    no klose. i hear he’s missing due to a last minute back problem. :v(

    • Kari
      July 10, 2010

      Brazilian Ronaldo’s legacy lives on!

      Would have been an interesting story had he been fit and playing though…

      • Miguel
        July 10, 2010

        it’s a third place game. give me a reason to watch it.

        • Kari
          July 10, 2010

          You can see Cacau singing the German anthem with more vigor than other Germans 😀 ;Jogi Loew eat another booger; Caceres tackling like a madman; Forlan score another golazo; Uruguay’s whole squad posing for a picture; Schweinsteiger being captain.

          Uruguay who might actually place third despite finishing fifth in South American qual. and needing to beat a team from CONCACAF to get to the WC

  9. Kari
    July 10, 2010

    Completely and totally off topic, but I love these Old Spice commercials. They make me LOL.


    “I’m on a horse” XD

  10. Miguel
    July 10, 2010

    anybody see sepp blatter almost snub suarez a la bridge to terry?

  11. Kari
    July 10, 2010

    Germany score!

    Mueller gets his 5th of the WC to tie Villa and Sneijder (who really shouldn’t have 5 goals IMO (in that Melo was the one who scored the goal, but it was credited to him.)

    • Eklavya
      July 10, 2010

      That wasn’t Melo. I think he deserves them…

      • Kari
        July 10, 2010

        Yep, it was Melo (I’m talking about the Brazil v Netherlands game, when Melo and Cesar got in each other’s way. It was DEFINATELY Melo who got the touch, thus making it an own goal that should be credited to Melo.).

        I can understand why they awarded it to Sneijder, but that doesn’t mean I agree with it. Therefore, in my eyes, Sneijder has 4 goals.

        Well, whatever. When Villa scores his hat-trick tomorrow, this will all be rendered meaningless 😀

        • Eklavya
          July 10, 2010

          That was a mis communication fault between Melo and Cesar but it was all Sneijder otherwise. Good ball. Anyway what do I care, he’s an ex EE player.

  12. lovelymofo
    July 10, 2010



  13. Kari
    July 10, 2010


    Terrific counterattack. Diego Perez disposseses Schweinny in the middle of the park, who passes to Suarez, who finds Cavani, who slots it pass Butt in goal!


  14. Eklavya
    July 10, 2010

    Thats what you call a Diagonal Run! Well played by forlan dragging the guy

  15. Kari
    July 10, 2010

    Suarez should have scored that; holy crap, what a miss!

  16. Blow-Grenade
    July 10, 2010

    Suarez should have chipped that over the keeper. Its easier typed than done!!!! What a first half!!!!

  17. Blow-Grenade
    July 10, 2010

    SoMa, that piece of writing, ahem, is a MASTERCLASS.

  18. Kari
    July 10, 2010


    A la Zidane in CL final vs Bayern (?)

  19. jordi™
    July 10, 2010

    Decent strike by forlan 😉

    Seriously though, what a volley!

  20. lovelymofo
    July 10, 2010

    Forlan scores! And can I just say, this bodes well for Spain. In the Euro’s Paul el Pulpo got one prediction wrong during the tournament – and Spain won at the end. Therefore, logic says, Paul got this match wrong, and Spain will win.

    You know, wherever logic involves a clairvoyant octopus.

    • lovelymofo
      July 10, 2010

      Woah, nevermind. I hate being at work during matches, I missed a goal.

  21. Kari
    July 10, 2010

    For a third place match, this is quite entertaining, even though some of the German player look like they don’t give a crap. 😛

    Uruguay are all intense and stuff. Me likes, me likes.

  22. Kari
    July 10, 2010

    GOAL SAMI KHEIDIRA! What was the Uruguayan defense doing?!

    Ugh. Pulpo Paul might be “right” again (what BS….)

  23. Eklavya
    July 10, 2010

    DONT MESS WITH PAUL THE OCTO OR HE OCTO YOU!! (what a pathetic phrase).

  24. jordi™
    July 10, 2010

    Damn. Forlan came so close snatching the draw.Forlan has been the player of the tournament to me anyway.Much better than sneijder.

  25. tutomate
    July 10, 2010


    You are soooo right about Sebastian Sweinteiger (I have no idea how to spell it). The guy is an absolute beast played his heart out for 90 minutes and did very well. Except for a few moments when he held the ball for too long and got dispossessed, he is Germany’s heart beat and had control of the German midfield all bye himself. I agree with you I would love to see him in the Blaugrana, too bad his heart is tainted white.

    • poipoi
      July 10, 2010

      that is one I wouldn’t like. I mean, I like him but not for Barça.

  26. Kxevin
    July 10, 2010

    Hell of a match. Shows you what kind of footy can be played when neither team really cares if they lose. It was wide open and stylin’, with chances galore. Suarez really seemed affected by the incessant booing. I find it funny that he’s been villified, when all the Ghanaian dude had to do was stick the penalty shot.

    Forlan is massive. I remember scoffing at the “Forlan to Barca” rumors back when they popped up. Feeling kinda foolish right now. Dude’s a hell of a player. He and Suarez carried Uruguay to fourth best team in the world. Not bad.

    • Luke
      July 10, 2010

      I wouldn’t feel foolish about it. Forlan is a hell of an asset and a great player, but he’s on the north end of 31 and signing him to any deal would require keeping him until he’s 34 or 35, and I’m assuming he’s going to falling off the train sometime soon.

      I might be wrong, like Radiohead, but I doubt it.

  27. Helge
    July 11, 2010

    That was a nice read to start your day after a long and alcoholic night 🙂
    Thanks, SoccerMom

Leave a Reply