Shadow Play: Manchester United, Wigan Athletic and the Estadio Azteca

A massive shadow the size of Sir Alex Ferguson’s trophy cabinet was cast over half the Wembley pitch during Sunday afternoon’s FA Community Shield match between Manchester United and Wigan Athletic.

Cross-field passes caused the television cameras no end of problems as they battled to focus properly with the constant changing contrast from light to dark.

As the match meandered slowly towards tedium, I noted to myself the various metaphors on display in front of me.

– Manchester United, in the full glare of the world’s media (or, if you are an optimist, bathing in the glorious sunshine of being the standard bearers of the Premier League).

– and Wigan Athletic, perennially in the shadows of more illustrious geographical neighbours and now cast in to the darkened corners of the Championship…

Artist Interpretation of Azteca "Star" Shadow

Artist Interpretation of Azteca “Star” Shadow

But my mind was distracted from such a tortured mangling of thoughts and attempted interpretations as I recalled the greatest of all shadows cast on a football pitch – that courtesy of Mexico ’86 and the Azteca Stadium, Mexico City.

I can vaguely recall the1982 World Cup. This may however, be by the association of losing an official replica ball, TWICE – first in a tree, which whilst on holiday – via the heavy end of a brush – resulted in a broken nose and daily visits to the hospital, and secondly on the school roof on our first day back after summer, never to be seen again.

And there was Naranjito, of course.

So, Mexico 86 was the first World Cup that I really took notice of. And it didn’t disappoint.

Question marks hung over whether Mexico would even be able to host the tournament. Almost all World Cups seem to follow this narrative – but Mexico was still a country recovering from a devastating earthquake a few months before.

So with the backdrop of that tragedy, a scorching heat that you could almost feel through the small screen – and commentary that might as well have been broadcast from the moon, we were treated to the likes of,

“JOSSIIIMMMMAAAARRRR!!!!”, A Right Jesper Olsen and Lineker’s Golden Boot – but Diego Maradona naturally stole all the headlines, both good and bad (especially if you are an Englishman) – with THOSE goals and an instrumental role in delivering the World Cup to Argentina.

However, my abiding memory of Mexico ’86 was that beautiful star-shaped, spidery shadow that seemed to orbit the centre-circle of the Estadio Azteca.

So, if feng shui and acoustics experts are now employed to advise on stadium design, can’t we have lighting and shadow experts involved also? We could have a shadow-puppet show going on to keep everyone entertained.

Games like yesterday’s would be enhanced considerably.


One Response

  1. James Blundell August 13, 2013

go on, have your say...