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  • Guy Martyr

How I Got A Ticket To The World Cup Final ('98)

How I Got A Ticket To The World Cup Final (’98) A Story by Guy Martyr, June 2002

I’m not even a football fan! except England in the World Cup sort of thing. I hadn’t taken much notice of the pre-World Cup brouhaha, but ended up in France at tournament time anyway, on a mission to sell my wares . . .

Mission? Wares?

Desperate venture. Art.

The Notice to Quit lay half lost but never forgotten in the kitchen, alongside letters from the Council informing of their policy of putting homeless families in bed and breakfast, and rejections from letting agencies (unemployed? artist? sorry, no . . . er, the house won’t be suitable for you . . . the landlord’s insurance doesn’t cover people on benefits . . . ).

The kids were fighting; wife fed-up.

Time to go.


A German artist friend from student days was staying in Marseilles - flat and studio on German government funds, very nice.

Thither! it must be.

Next month’s Family Allowance scraped together, alongside some slides of my work, off I walked, down beside the rushing lines of sleek, bubble-like modern cars, with their detached, ‘privileged’ drivers, heads turning to stare from the cocoon of false authorisation, to the station.


Marseilles was hot, dusty, bustling, I presume.

“Hallo Gustav!”

“Hallo, Guy! What’s los?”

“Ja, eigentlich . . . nichts vieles.”

“Möchst ein Bier?”

He had been commissioned, it turned out, to do a piece of art for the German-French Friendship Association: one of Gustav’s post angst, post post mod, highly industrialised all-in jobs, so there was lots to do to help, and a few crumbs of a crust of bread thrown in . . .

Final installation in front of the building in press and public glare was a gas, and the lunch afterwards continent-astically replete. I made a ‘contact’ too: one liking my work - technical, not artistic - my unemployment training course was paying off! - and I was off on a train the next day to Strasbourg with my new-found power drill, slides discarded, to assist in the installation of a sculpture for the EU.

By the end of that stay, I was garnering a nice little reputation - it must have been the art in my technique. I could translate all my eighths and sixteenths into millimetres, my German and French were de-rusting nicely, and, for the first time for years, I had a bit of a wad in my pocket.

Of course, one thing leads to another: my next job was for a company erecting satellite equipment for . . . World Cup football matches. Parallel World Cup, that is: Elderly, Homeless, Refugees . . . who played matches near all the major venues . . .

My big break came when the TV crew from ‘Euroscrap’ arrived to film the circus.

“Who do you play for?” asked the presenter.

. . . play along, I thought, buoyed by my recent good fortune . . .

“Artists’ World Cup.”

“Artists. I did not know . . . “

“But Antoine, certainement . . . We have the Classicists v the Romantics, the Sensualists v the Conceptualists, the Commercially Viable v the Rest of the World . . . “

“Mon Dieu. Pas mal. We must film these matches.”

So, on the phone to Gustav who had lots of friends, all game for a game, I was suddenly ‘Scrap TV’ sponsored organiser of the ‘Artists’ World Cup’!

We ended up getting quite a lot of coverage - a little too much for some, who protested at the degradation of their once-proud game, what with occasional alterations to the rules, eg, the sharing of victory, the playing for both teams at once, the third goal net . . .


It was by now the day of the True Final.

We weren’t exactly in Paris by then, but as near as we could get, a place called Auvers-sur-Oise. I was sitting outside a bar basking in the recent weeks’ success and . . . fun! . . . chatting to Antoine and Gustav, when a car stopped before us, an English car, a big, sleek, bubble-like English car replete with false authorisation.

Down comes window. Frantic fella: “Do you speak English? Oo ay Paris? We’ve got to be there in an hour . . . the World Cup Final . . . We’re lost!”

My scant knowledge of, or care about, football, allowed me still to recognise a Top Honcho in the football hierarchy, from his many TV appearances.

Antoine and Gustav looked at me: “I can help you . . . “

I sauntered over and leant in the window, to conduct secret negotiations.

“See you later, Guys,” I turned, as I got into the car.


I felt like a traitor. “Up there.”

I felt completely unconcerned. “Left.”

I was floating. “Onto the motorway.”

Carried. “Off at the next junction.”

Guided. “Down the boulevard.”

Peaceful. “Et voilà.”

Happy “This way to your seat, monsieur.”



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