Category: soccer (Page 2 of 2)

A Howler, Indeed

The first issue of the new, Kickstarter-funded Howler magazine arrived today. I love soccer writing, so I still look forward to reading the articles. But after flipping through this first, enormously formatted and overly designed monstrosity, I’m glad I only backed them at the “get one issue” level and not the “full subscription” level.

Maybe I’m just in a foul mood after watching Liverpool play well but lose YET AGAIN (3-2 at home to Udinese in Europa League), but this thing just isn’t my bag. A couple of quick examples of what’s put me off:

Like this sort-of, kind-of funny picture of Rooney and Kompany that’s part of the article title? Fooled you! It’s not part of the article! At all! It’s just a sort-of, kind-of funny picture, all by itself! The text to the left is the end of the article prior! No caption (just the title, “Gents”, and the artist), no accompaniment, no point. It’s Art, I guess! (Also, how about that giant red bar? A capital “I”? Maybe! A random red bar? Yes! Relation to anything at all? None!)

Know what this diagram of Bs, Ds, and Gs is meant to illustrate? Fooled you again, it’s not a diagram at all! It’s the title of an article! Called, “BDGB BDGB”, OBVIOUSLY! It’s about being a fan of Man U in the 70s, OBVIOUSLY! More Art, I guess! (Also, see the random circles and lines and colored bars and shadows sprinkled haphazardly all over? Still more Art, apparently!)

Anyway, as I recall they did say in their Kickstarter promo, with all fair warning to me, that they would have “some of the most striking art and design you’ll find in any publication being made today”. And there are some neat graphics in here, certainly; some that even seem to serve a purpose beyond their creator showing off to other magazine/design people. And I am optimistic about the writing, but I’m disappointed overall. Best of luck to you, Howler, but I won’t be subscribing.

Not a Vicarious Pleasure

One thing I know for sure about being a fan is this: it is not a vicarious pleasure, despite all appearances to the contrary, and those who say that they would rather do than watch are missing the point. Football is a context where watching becomes doing . . . When there is some kind of triumph, the pleasure does not radiate from the players outwards until it reaches the likes of us at the back of the terraces in a pale and diminished form; our fun is not a watery version of the team’s fun, even though they are the ones that get to score the goals and climb the steps at Wembley to meet Princess Diana. The joy we feel on occasions like this is not a celebration of others’ good fortune, but a celebration of our own; and when there is a disastrous defeat the sorrow that engulfs us is, in effect, self-pity, and anyone who wishes to understand how football is consumed must realise this above all things.

The players are merely our representatives, chosen by the manager rather than elected by us, but our representatives nonetheless . . . I am a part of the club, just as the club is a part of me; and I say this fully aware that the club exploits me, disregards my views, and treats me shoddily on occasions, so my feeling of organic connection is not built on a muddle-headed and sentimental misunderstanding of how professional football works. This Wembley win belonged to me every bit as much as it belonged to Charlie Nicholas or George Graham . . . and I worked every bit as hard for it as they did. The only difference between me and them is that I have put in more hours, more years, more decades than them, and so had a better understanding of the afternoon, a sweeter appreciation of why the sun still shines when I remember it.

Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby

I’ve long scoffed at people who recount their team’s exploits using the personal pronoun “we”. What’s this “we”? You’re not the person out there doing anything, you’re sitting in the stands, or more probably on your couch at home watching TV.

But in my more recent, soccer fanatic years, I’ve had the impulse to speak this way myself, though I’ve fought against it. After reading the excellent passage above, no more. “They” may not understand it, but it truly is “we”.

Alex Morgan sings ‘Girls Were Made To Love and Kiss’

Odd coincidences: coming across this name-drop at roughly the same time that the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team won gold at the London Olympics.

At the time [1970], the club disapproved of perimeter advertising and pre-match DJs, and so we had neither; Chelsea fans may have been listening to the Beatles and the Stones, but at Highbury half-time entertainment was provided by the Metropolitan Police Band and their vocalist, Constable Alex Morgan. Constable Morgan (whose rank never changed throughout his long Highbury career) sang highlights from light operettas and Hollywood musicals: my programme for the Derby game says that he performed Lehár’s ‘Girls Were Made To Love and Kiss’ that afternoon.

Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby

Cutest Ukrainian Soccer Fan Evar

This is a repost from “An Absolute Cracker”, a short-lived Tumblr of mine.



Most of the shots of the blue & yellow crowd at the Ukraine-Sweden game were totally baffling. Were they Ukraine fans? Sweden fans? I COULD NOT TELL. But this cute little Ukraine fan (and of course all the people cheering immediately after a goal) was the exception. Lots of people are loving his reaction — pure, unadulterated celebration — but the almost better part to me is the look right before, wide-eyed & expectant… This. This is what it’s all about.

Allianz Arena to House Park

This is a repost from “An Absolute Cracker”, a short-lived Tumblr of mine.

What a soccer day yesterday, with two big games. First — well, actually, first was the Championship promotion game between Blackpool and West Ham, which on most other days would be big, but yesterday it was little more than a footnote to my soccer day.

Anyway, first for real was the Champions League final. I was technically a neutral, but got pretty wound up in anti-Chelsea fervor during the run-up to the game. I really wanted Bayern to solidly beat Chelsea, if not outright humiliate them. Alas, it was not to be.

And then the second big game: the return to the field of my hometown team, the Austin Aztex. There’s a lot of history for me with the Aztex (a whole other blog‘s worth), but bottom line, I was just pumped to go to a live game again, without having to road-trip to Houston, Dallas or San Antonio for the privilege.

It was fantastic. This new team is “just” PDL (amateur, mostly college guys playing over their summer breaks), and the competition is “just” other teams from around Texas (El Paso, Laredo, Midland, etc.). But even though it was supposed to be a lower level of play than the previous pro Aztex team — and maybe it was, it’s hard to compare after just one game — it didn’t matter a bit. It was a blast.

Winning 6-1 over a team that had 2 players ejected didn’t hurt the celebratory homecoming, either. 🙂

Here’s the double-decker bus we rode from the Lion & Rose to the stadium, also a blast. Bonus that nobody was decapitated by power lines or tree branches.

Lion & Rose bus for Eberly's Army

So the day featured two games from the farthest extremes of world soccer. From some of the biggest names in the game playing on manicured grass in a packed Allianz Arena, to a bunch of amateurs playing on artificial turf in a 70-year old high school football stadium.

Some fans might find that swing, from the very pinnacle of the game to essentially the very base, too far to stomach. But I love it. Because across all the miles and characters and stories, it’s still the exact. Same. Game.

The Future of Football Coverage is not Jamie Trecker

This is a repost from “An Absolute Cracker”, a short-lived Tumblr of mine.
Lyon celebrate winning Champions League final

I was excited to see that Fox’s own Jamie Trecker personally attended and then wrote about the women’s Champions League final today. Until I read it, that is. What an insulting, condescending turd.

Take the same piece and imagine it being written by some baseball or NFL journalist, attending the men’s final, then patronizingly patting everyone on the head for a nice little time with your little ball, but concluding with a sniff that their sport was still The Bestest. You’d have soccer fans everywhere up in arms. But somehow the so-called “senior editor” at Fox Soccer gets away with gems like the following:

While you might turn up your nose at the idea of seeing a women’s club match (as some of my fellow ink-stained wretches did when I mentioned it to them this morning)

No need to be apologetic about going to a world-class soccer game, bro. I’m sure they’ll still let you back into the clubhouse when you get back.

Before you ask, yes, it was a “real” soccer crowd

Again with the defensiveness. Not sure what else 50,000 fans would be. I guess he expected all soccer moms and little kids, plus players’ families?

Now, let me be frank and say that the game would not have made you forget Manchester City.

Well that’s no shocker, since that Man City match was widely regarded as one of the most exciting games in modern Premier League history. And remember, nobody seems to think Saturday’s Champions League final will make me forget Man City, either, even though those players have boy parts instead of girl parts.

the only people who didn’t look like they enjoyed the atmosphere were the players – they looked very nervous in front of the wall of people . . . partly because the women usually play to pitiful, invisible crowds.

This was a bigger than usual crowd for them, okay, fair point. You don’t have to be quite that vicious about it, though. I mean, really: “pitiful” and “invisible”?

And even though the level of play isn’t that of the Premiership, Lyon wasn’t half bad. Still, the future of the sport is not feminine.

Whuh . . . WHAT? What. What the fuck is _that_? Ohhhhhh. Ah, yes. That’s a reference to ol’ Sepp’s comment (“We have always believed that the future of football is feminine“).

And there we have it: Trecker’s whole point in going, his whole point in writing about it. To refute year-old empty rhetoric from a corrupt old dickbag that nobody likes or even believes about anything, anyway.

Dear Jamie. The sport doesn’t have to be masculine or feminine. It can be both. There’s enough room for both! There are apparently 50,000 people who are into women’s soccer enough to attend that match just two days before the vaunted men’s final is held in that very same city. That fact will probably not hurt attendance on Saturday. It’s okay. Men’s soccer is not in danger, and you don’t need to defend it. And if you’re uncomfortable with or incapable of covering women’s games as, you know, actual games, then please don’t bother. Your contribution will not be missed.

The moral of the story: forget Trecker and Fox’s “coverage” of the women’s game, and just read Jenna Pel at Pro Soccer Talk. Instead of one token paragraph, you get a whole story about the actual game, with no gender agenda either way.

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