A Trench Town man, Steven Johnson, refused to wish his younger cousin, Davena Gregory, a happy birthday on Saturday as he felt he would be betraying other Spain fans by doing so because his relative supports Germany.
On Sunday, the two footballing powerhouses clashed in a crucial Group E encounter for the Germans, who needed a positive result after losing to Japan in their opening game at the World Cup. Johnson and Gregory, apparently stung by the World Cup bug, did not speak to each other in a friendly tone until yesterday after their respective teams played out a 1-1 tie. They stared at each other intensely shortly after the final whistle before breaking their silence with a warm embrace.
“We a cousin, again, yah now,” said the 33-year-old Johnson with a wide grin. The construction worker was hosting a group of people after placing his 42-inch television on a table outside his gate on Second Street to watch the match.
“Mi glad fi the draw, but if we did lose, she did affi stay far from me. Yesterday (Saturday) was her birthday, and mi mek sure tell har say, ‘Yo, no birthday present until Monday’. Nothing! But anyhow wi did lose, maybe a after the World Cup mi woulda tell her happy birthday ,” he said. Gregory, who works at a call centre, quickly asked: “So mi a go get it now like how wi draw?”
She said that the days leading up to the game were intense as both seemed willing to ‘mouth’ each other about their respective teams’ prospects of winning the tournament.
“A baay quarrel bout who a go win and who a go go home. Every minute yuh hear wi a argue, and when wi done, him over deh so and me over yah so,” the 23-year-old added.
Although Gregory described the rivalry with Johnson as “intense”, she said it pails in comparison to the difficulties she faces in warding off the energetic Brazil supporters in the South St Andrew community.
“A baay waggonist Brazilian fans, so yuh know wi affi strong. Dem come in like mad ants,” Gregory said. She also took a dig at them, stating that she wouldn’t mind if her German powerhouse were to play the Samba Kings before rehashing the 7-1 humbling they inflicted in 2014.
“Memba good say a wi say seven, and a we mek L.A. Lewis start say seven. So Brazil fi know say wi no fear dem. In fact, a dem wi wah buck and give them 10 this time,” she said.
Following Sunday’s result, the four-time world champions Germany must win against Costa Rica in their final group game while hoping that Spain overcome Japan.
Also on Sunday, at Platinum Sports Bar in Waterhouse, St Andrew, Germany fan Rohan McKenzie was the subject of many jeers. As he attempted to ‘cut and clear all crawsis’ off his team’s shoulders by waving his flag profusely, his flag was caught by a blade.
“Yea man a it that. See the sign deh. Germany a go down today,” shouted a Brazil supporter. Outnumbered, but certainly not low on confidence, McKenzie responded that his team would not only beat Spain, but still progress as group winners.
“Germany a World Cup machine. Ask Muller, Klose, Michael Ballack, and dem man deh. Mi no fear no day, no time,” he said.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, as another pre-tournament favourite, Argentina, overpowered Mexico in an initially nervy encounter, there was pandemonium in Salon Emporia in Half-Way Tree, and Sonia’s Place on the Terrace both in St Andrew. With strikes from talisman Lionel Messi and Enzo Fernandez, Argentina rebounded from a shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in their opener. The result means that a victory against Poland in their last group game will guarantee progress.
While others were nervous, a confident Donovan Whyte, who works as a barber in Salon Emporia, said he was never in doubt.
“How yuh fi wah doubt somebody like Messi? A di same thing Mexico come wid and put ’bout 50 man fi mark the general. But the man decide say him affi tek things into his own hands especially wid wah gwan inna di fuss game,” a jubilant Whyte said several minutes after the final whistle. His sentiments were also echoed by Audley Spence, the proprietor of Sonia’s Place on the Terrace.
“Messi a di god a football,” a barely audible Spence shouted. “Mi shout till mi voice box gone, but anytime the maestro a play, yuh know say yuh cyah siddung and be calm. World Cup wouldn’t be nice without Messi in the knock-out (round).”