From: Lléo
Subject: The value of plastic cups (still about Re: [R] RJ and SP State league finals
Date: 31 March 2003 06:18

Ok, so we won the trophy. I still maintain it is a worthless championship.
One only needs to take a look at the Rio de Janeiro FA to figure that out.

Nonetheless, it is funny how certain events seems to conspire to endear
minor cups and worthless trophies to the hearts of the fans in the stands.
Football's ways are mysterious indeed. As a supporter of Vasco da Gama, it
is not intending to gloat that I can say, there's not been a drought of
trophies "that count" around São Januário recently. National champions 1997
and 2000, Libertadores winner in 1998.

Still, minor trophies as the Guanabara Cup and the Merco$ul Cup in 2000, and
this very state league win, are stuff that I have fond memories of. Not for
the trophies per themselves, for I'd keep those wins even if the trophy went
to another club, bar one. Minor details, major details, context, many
variables that escape those who aren't following closely the local
scene, and add a special 'flavor', if you will, to these conquers.

The first example: the Guanabara champion is a figure of rhetoric, as it
only means a team won the first round of the Rio state league. No one really
cares about that. Botafogo won it with 12 wins in 12 games in 1997, and
people only paid attention to the fact that they won 12 matches in a row!
Unless you do it by beating Flamengo. By five goals. As promised by the club
president beforehand. After a year and a half hearing "Vice-champions again"
them. That way, many people care.

The second, I am especially fond of, is the (defunct) Merco$ul Cup 2000. It
is a
championship that never really 'caught'. I was in a friend's house (Flamengo
fan), with his family (Flamengo fans) and my brother (Flamengo fan), as
Palmeiras was 3-0 up by halftime. Flamengo had won it in 1999 and it was
treated like a Libertadores win, while we were about to choke yet again in
the last step. The heroic comeback, at a crowded green Parque Antartica,
Juninho Pernambucano shouting to the small Vascaino crowd to pull the team
ahead when we levelled the score with 5 minutes left, 0-3 to 4-3 is not
something you forget too quickly. In my context, it isn't something one ever

The third, well, whoever has watched the goals in ESPN will partly figure
out why, as my English is not good enough to describe the cross by Leo Lima
to the winning goal. To do that in a derby, in a championship final... man,
give the trophy to Fluminense, maybe so they'll stop whining, but let me
keep that goal. It feels especially sweet to see that Renato Gaucho was
immensely pissed off by that play. He spent a few minutes exchanging raw
words with our number 10. Whined afterwards, "when we were four goals up
against Flamengo I told my players to stop, to not humiliate them. One day
someone will break this kid if he keeps doing this stuff".  Just how great
is it to beat such an arrogant a**hole?

Also, the first goal: a Fluminense defender tries to boot the ball upfield
and manages to hit the referee's head, who is like three meters ahead of
him. Marcelinho Carioca gets the rebound and shoots, Kleber (Flu's gk) does
a Julio Cesar and palms it in the area, Leo Lima kicks it in. You know, we
are the juventini of Rio de Janeiro (regarding the match-fixing and
ref-bribing stuff), so it was only fitting for the ref, even if by accident,
to be a part of a play
that ended in a goal for us...

Personal accounts aside, on all of them you could spot the sort of stuff
that makes a win unforgettable. The merciless crushing of a rival. The
display of guts that resulted on a heroic comeback, at the enemy arena, on a
moment where everything seemed doomed. A display of "amor à camisa",
something you don't get to see at all these days. There's even a touch of
poetic justice, though this depends on one's viewpoint. All these are
factors that fans value, or seem to from where I'm looking. Perhaps that's
why these three were so much celebrated, because objectively, none of these
particular three can be regarded as anything else other than a meaningless

Football's ways are mysterious indeed.