On international football nights, I always make sure that I have a little "hopeful/less solidarity", combined bet on the four home countries. Going on returns to date, let's just say that I wouldn't recommend it as an alternative means of investment to a few fivers stuffed under the biscuit tin under the bed...but one day I just know it's going to come off.
So, Paddy Power today are offering a whopping 77/1 (!!!) treble on Northern Ireland to beat Italy, a Scots' victory in Prague and the Welsh to sort out Bulgaria in Cardiff. At this juncture in the afternoon (before the first pint)it does seem somewhat of a far-fetched possibility, but the price of a pint has gone on it anyroads.
Can Northern Ireland, at least out of the three, do it tonight?
Italy won't be fancying it that much. Windsor Park is most certainly not the Stadio Olimpico; the fans' fervour (fortified with something a bit stronger than a caffè latte) could unsettle what is a pretty inexperienced team and, to be blunt, since no one expects them to win the Northern Ireland team itself has, well, nothing to lose.
But no, the head says "Of course not, we haven't a chance". And to be honest, it's one of the games where I can sit back (tonight, thanks to one of Ms O'Neill's little perverse jokes, in an Italian restaurant) and enjoy the game without stressing myself overly about the result. I'll predict a battling two-goal defeat with hopefully no injuries for the more important away game on Tuesday.
As long as Italy go home knowing they've been in a game, that'll do me nicely.
Paddy won’t be sponsoring our Winter Cruise around Caribbean this year... but not to worry, once again we pull off a result against the kind of team we have no right to be pulling results off. Four points off our first two games against World Cup finalists, Slovenia and a team that has won the World Cup more times than we’ve even qualified for the darn thing is way beyond my expectations at the start of the campaign. I should have learnt by now never to write OWC off, time and time again they prove me wrong and despite actively following one of the best club teams in the world, I can honestly say they’ve given me my best football experiences simply because they have always been so unexpected.
So very proud, yet again, of my team.