Paul Radley | July 31, 2012
I could have sworn this place used to be a football country.British summertime was always the season to obsess over which Brazilian star was going to sign for United, or how much the Russian oligarch was going to shell-out on the latest Belgian whizz-kid.
It is all change in Great Britain, though. And it is not even the Olympic Games, per say, which have nudged the national consciousness in an unexpected direction. This is now firmly cycling territory.
In the nearest bookshop to the main stadium, Foyle’s in the Westfield mall which marks the entrance to the Olympic Park, around two-thirds of all the sports books on sale are related to cycling, rather than football, cricket, or the Games.
Out on the course, it was estimated that as many as a million people lined the streets of London for Mark Cavendish’s failed attempt to win gold in cycling’s road race.
No doubt that number was swelled by the fact most of the spectators did not have to follow a convoluted online procedure, only to find out there were no tickets available – even though the prime seats were subsequently shown on television to be vacant – just to get the chance to support the local heroes.
Meanwhile, Britain’s football team have been watched by funereal crowds who have yet to think up any songs more imaginative than “GB, GB”, while half their players do not even want to sing the national anthem.
These are peculiar times.