I managed to watch the second half of the excellent Australia vs Ireland match in the rugby World Cup this morning in Melbourne, Australia winning 17-16 after an agonising drop goal miss in the 73rd minute or so for the Irish — one of those balls that spent an improbable amount of time in the air before narrowly missing the posts.
But it was a smashing game, and I was delighted to learn from the commentators — because I don’t pay as much attention to Irish rugby as I ought — that the Irish captain Keith Wood’s nickname is “the raging potato“, which is marvellously apposite.
So Australia will now have an easy quarter-final against Scotland; Ireland will have an altogether tougher fixture against France — and, to paraphrase the fans’ preferred song, we can all now live and hope and pray for a rematch in Botany Bay in the final of the competition on 22 November — which would be hauntingly appropriate, if a little unlikely…
Trivia point on invented traditions and all (my friend Dan likes it when the Virtual Stoa deals with music trivia): “The Fields of Athenry” was composed by Pete St John in 1979, though most people I run into seem to think it’s a lot older, trad. even. It may do a good job of passing itself off as older than it is owing to a lyric that is based on an old 1888 ballad, or just because of a hefty dose of wishful thinking. Though quite why Danny and Jenny became Michael and Mary for the 1979 version seems unclear, unless PStJ just thought Danny and Jenny weren’t stereotypically Irish enough, and was writing the song for export to the New World.
And it’s now only 140 days before I qualify for citizenship…
UPDATE [5 minutes later]: I’ve just stumbled across this fine parody version, over at mudcat.org, which I’ve lightly repunctuated and spell-checked:
FIELDS OF ATHENRY (alternative version)
By a lonely prison wall, I heard a young girl calling,
“Michael, they are singing it again!
If I hear it one more time, I think I’ll lose my mind:
I’m so fed up with the Fields of Athenry.”
Oh no! The Fields of Athenry,
If I hear it one more time, I think I’ll die;
It’s such a boring song; it goes on, and on, and on:
I’m so fed up with the Fields of Athenry
From within the prison wall, I heard a young man calling,
“Mary, why do you think I’m here?
In here we all agree, transportation’ll set us free,
Free from the Fields of Athenry!”
By a lonely harbour wall, I saw the last star falling
As the prison ship sailed out against the tide
“Hold on”, that girl did say, “I’m coming with you to Botany Bay,
To escape from the Fields of Athenry!”
A little clunky in places, but basically very good, and funny.