Remember the 2022 World Cup? That strange yet controversy free tournament when only football made the headlines and politics kept out of sport? When a new star, one Lionel Messi (remember him?) was born. When England were the true champions. AJ Rutherford does. Because he published a daily blog which captured the nation’s imagination. Now his quite astonishing thoughts, opinions and analysis can be shared with everybody. See that magnificent tournament through his eyes and come to realise that AJ’s view is so much better than we could ever imagine ourselves.
The scorching sun beat down during that bitter winter. Olivier Giroud scored plenty in a major tournament. Lionel Messi proved that footballing life can begin at thirty-five as, after a long career, the little-known Argentinian maestro finally found fame. There were no controversies. Absolutely none. Zero. Not a ripple breached the surface of FIFA’s glittering ocean. The depths of which they wanted no prying eyes into (Note to sub-editor – does that make sense? AJ). ‘Everything is perfect, there’s nothing wrong. Enjoy the football,’ they said, from the comfort of those weird armchairs into which dignitaries were carefully positioned. Truly, the Qatar World Cup was a tournament of dichotomies. The time when the impossible not only became possible, but sometimes even probable. Once or twice, it even occurred. Astonishing.
Leading pundit, top sports journalist and father, coach, husband, ref, analyst, former pro player (potentially) and award winning local dignitary (Winchester U12 Most Committed Coach, 2018, Wiltshire Boys Team Spirit award 1979) Aiden Rutherford once more turns his sharp yet sparkling eyes to the greatest sporting event in the world, bar the Olympics (Summer only), the T20 World Cup (at least we sometimes win that) and the Kinnaird Cup, Eton Fives’ most prestigious competition. AJ is a familiar face in our homes (some). All the way from the westerly tip of North Bucks to the northernmost outcrop of north North Oxon and even into parts of the southerly reaches of Northamptonshire people have heard of him (some). Indeed, he freely admits to the unwanted accolades of being both a legend and a national treasure (regional only); a combination requiring a mixture of brilliance and modesty rare in even one so humble as he.
Originally published in a series of daily blogs which held the nation in its grip more tightly than the cold back in November and December, AJ’s astonishing insights into the Qatar Winter World Cup, that astonishing yet strangest of tournaments, are now published here for everyone’s enjoyment, nostalgia and wide eyed astonishment at his quite astonishing perceptiveness. Astonishing. Not that those astonishing 30 odd days were a piece of cake for AJ. There’s problems at home when young prodigy and future World Cup final referee Young Ade is assaulted during a tense junior cup match in Irthlingborough; there’s problems abroad when Mark and Lou, young Lachlan’s parents (AJ is looking after his nephew for a few months, and bringing along the youngster’s footballing career at the same time. He’s only eleven (Lachlan, not AJ. Think, please), but it’s never too early to learn the vital role the long ball over the top plays in the modern game. There’s problems at work with the threat of the Bic Brack Buck (or is it Buck Bic Brack?) Trib going digital. It even looks for a moment as though the three bed detached with ensuite, office, annex (potential) and downstairs loo situated in one of Bicester’s leading Avenues might even have to go on the market. But do these crises and set backs intrude into AJ’s excellent daily blogs? Well, yes. But that only adds to our retrospective enjoyment of this Strangest of Winter World Cups.
Join AJ, Jules, Super G, Saint H, Killy, Linny, the Great Sir Clive, the Custard Cream, Voldo from the Valleys, Du Croissant, the Waffleman and the rest in this thrilling, dynamic, real time account of the event that took the world by storm so recently, yet seemingly so long ago.
Note: AJ’s views, observations, conclusions and facts are his own. Any resemblance to real events, people or human rights violations are purely coincidental, and are unintended.
See the book on Amazon here, view more books by Alan Peters here.