*Yes I've shortened the title - hoped it would make a snappy acronym...I was wrong!!!*
Well that was...different.
Golf tournaments regularly get suspended for electrical storms, but not usually football matches. At least not until today anyway.
Floridians take severe weather very seriously, so when the first rumble of thunder was heard as fork lightning flashed dangerously close to the Sun Life Stadium, the referee had England and Honduras off the pitch sharpish, whilst the fans were urged to head straight for the concourses - it's an open stadium, after all, and thus there's no protection afforded to any of the 45,000 seats taken up by fans on both sides.
The tunnel area was a total mass of confusion. ITV Sport set up an impromptu studio right next to the England dressing room rather than risk their outside broadcast, FA officials were deep in discussion with Roy and others in the England camp trying to make sense of such an unusual situation, whilst those in charge of weather radar monitoring oddly barred myself and other broadcasters from their room whilst they tracked the path of the storm. No idea why such secrecy was necessary, but there you go.
Up until the stoppage, the game itself had been reasonably fair and sensibly contested by both sides. After the restart on 22-odd minutes, there was an appreciable change by the Honduran players, upping the physicality on what had become a very slippery surface following the cloudburst.
About the best I can say about the remaining time in the game was that England players didn't react to some of the provocation they were subjected to both in the tackle and after the tackle. That couple with some over fussy refereeing made for a frustrating spectacle which won't have given Roy many answer to those questions he'll have posed himself about certain places up for grabs in a week's time in Manaus.
You have to imagine that 3 shirts are still up for grabs to all intents and purposes. The goalkeeper, back 4 and defensive midfielders must be on the team sheet, plus Sturridge too, you'd imagine...so it's how he deploys the 3 behind Sturridge that will be debated long and hard all week, with Barkley & Rooney doubtless at the forefront of the conversation...for different reasons too, I imagine.
Me? I think Roy will keep the young players in reserve for the latter stages against Italy, although if Sterling continues to perform in training as he did yesterday, he might have a sniff.
Loved the Honduran national anthem by the way. Apparently its full version has SEVEN verses, but we only get two for sports events. There's this story going around that England players have been asked to learn the words to God Save The Queen and belt them out pre-match. Well, if any if them don't like that too much, they should be grateful they don't have to do what Honduran kids have to do - apparently, they take an exam in school based around memorising all 8 verses AND get tested on their meaning! Suddenly, 'send her victorious, happy and glorious' doesn't sound too tough, does it lads? :)
Earlier in the day, I'd been sent to get Charlie Wyett from The Sun to come up to our commentary booth to chat with Stan & Saggers (who was hosting from Rio) ahead of kick off. I only got him there with seconds to spare for his allotted time, as I got lost in the huge concourses & rabbit warrens of the Sun Life Stadium. Every corridor looked the blooming same!
The tailgate parties were in full swing out in the car parks just as they would be if the Dolphins were in town for a regular season NFL game. The players on the pitch may not have been too cordial with one another but the fans mixed superbly both inside and outside the stadium. It was good to see some familiar faces parading their St George's flags right around the bottom tier of the ground. England fans do seem to find a way to get the flags in place quicker than the Germans and the old 'towel on sun lounger' cliché!
A beer was waiting for all the journos as they arrived back at the bus set to take us back to the hotel for our final night in Miami, which I spent watching another thrilling NHL Stanley Cup game end in overtime as LA Kings went 2-0 up in their best of 7 versus NY Rangers. Having heard Tammi the organist at the Miami Marlins set the bar high for inventive between-innings noodling, she was, for me at least, instantly toppled from her lofty perch by whoever was tinkling the ivories at the Staples Centre.
And it only took one song to do it! During overtime with the score locked at 4-4, I nearly spat my orange juice across the room when I heard the strains of Iron Butterfly's 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' - not just because it's a classic tune from a long lost behemoth of rock, but because of the Simpsons 'Bart Sells His Soul' episode where Bart tricks the church organist to play the tune as though it's a hymn called 'In The Garden Of Eden'! Remember?
Genius - and I bet the organist there gets the irony of it. Plus I heard strains of Metallica, Pantera and Black Sabbath tunes during other breaks in play. Being a P.A. guy at the hockey game sounds like a total hoot!! Can the NY Rangers' answer to Jon Lord raise their game for the next match in the series?
Well, I hope Brazilian TV can assist in helping me see that Game 3, 'Organist Wars' and beyond...although I might be slightly busy elsewhere ;)