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Pub Football: European Championship Final

SPANISH DELIGHT

For the football fan in Queenstown it seems there is only one place to be when there’s an international final on. The Red Rock Cafe may be half a world away from the Ernst Happel stadium in Vienna but –as with the Champions League back in May— it was standing room only in the cosy drinking-hole first thing yesterday.

Even TV3 who were preoccupied with the attractions of the Winter Festival had got wind that this was a venue worth visiting. They sent along a cameraman to film the reaction from the resort’s international community.

For the first half an hour he might have been disappointed as vocal support in the bar was only a little warmer than the early morning air outside. But come Fernando Torres’ goal on the 33rd minute, Spanish supporters were suddenly reaching for the sky. One pair even ventured a little fandango.

Into the second half and the atmosphere had heated up nicely. For a brief moment the whole crowd was unified as one – albeit only in mass wince as the TV showed slow motion footage of Miroslav Klose taking a boot to the groin.

Then the punters were back to their partisan ways; the Germans getting excited as their team started a brief onslaught on the Spanish goal around the 60 minute mark. Despite their cheering nothing came of it and the classy Spanish team retained their grip on the game.

Spain have always been cited as perennial underachievers in international football so it was with some nervous discomfort that their fans in Red Rock waited for the final whistle. With its arrival came sweet relief and at long last an uninhibited moment of joyous celebration.

“Finally we are the champions,” said one happy punter between bouts of jumpy cheery singing. “We haven’t won anything like this for 44 years.”

Queenstown (NZ), June 2008

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