The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.

We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.

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There and Back Again

The slain dragon

As the last flashbulbs fizzed in the stands and the last shots of Bono slithered across the world’s TV screens, gold confetti swirled, Sepp Blatter purred, and the Spanish players posed around the trophy. But a continent away, there was another team with something to celebrate. Tiny, unheralded New Zealand, one of the pre-tournament favorites for the title of worst side in the field, dumped out of the group stage after fighting for three gritty draws, finished as the World Cup’s only unbeaten team. Let there be dancing in Auckland and drinking in Hobbiton. For the last shall be first, I’m tempted to say—although as far as the Spain-Netherlands game is concerned, thankfully the last was just last.

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There and Back Again

by Brian Phillips · July 12, 2010

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