The day the transfer window closes is one of my favorites of the season.
The Premier League is always built on narrative, fantasy, and hope, but for the last 24 hours of the window that telenovela goes into overdrive: every football fan believes in leprechauns, dodos, unicorns and a top four finish.
combine on a cliche-ridden day in which the terms:
“Come and get me plea”
“Waiting for the fax to come through”
“Dream come true to return to my boyhood club”
This is a day propelled by middle-aged English football journalists who shamelessly work themselves into a frenzy before a live worldwide audience, frantically working their phones to fill the dead air, even as nothing is happening.
A day of rumors and gossip in which the EPL Becomes TMZ - and Twitter comes alight with rumors Andrea Pirlo has been seen at Newcastle airport, or that someone’s brother’s hairdresser’s dad works security at Manchester and has just escorted Arturo Vidal into the stadium.
A day in which the driver side car window reigns, a mysterious camera angle allowing the interviewee to cloak their intentions rather than shed light on them.
When clusters of acne-ridden English youths linger outside of stadia late at night, surrounding reporters as they break news. Like villagers ready to storm a castle. Proof there are some corners of England in which the medieval ages have never ended.
A day of domino effects — when one move will suddenly trigger a spasm of others — some which will be season altering, some sure to stink more than Cool Water.
Random Brazilian superstars jet into Manchester never quite sure if they have just signed for United or City.
When an Instagram photograph of incoming players wearing their new club colors can send grown men and women into raptures.
Some teams will acquire the missing piece they need to put them over the top.
Others will sabotage themselves with desperate last minute panic buys.
Still others will have their heart ripped out of them by teams higher up the food chain.
Disaster hangs over every fan like a guillotine blade.
At the same time, the delusion the cavalry is about to arrive never leaves you — especially if you are a striker-deprived Arsenal fan.
And that is what makes it such a special day: 24 hours lived suspended between doom and hope, agony and delirium — the distilled essence of football fandom.
GFOP Steve Grimes recently sent in this picture of his tour guide on Boston’s Freedom Trail and wrote, “Given his love of the Boston Tea Party and all things Revolutionary War can this really be a coincidence?”
GFOPs, if you see someone who resembles Rog, or is a Davo doppelganger, send Ravens. We’d love to see them.
Congrats to #GFOP and new father Brad Serton, who had more than the start of Manchester City’s Premier League campaign to celebrate this past Sunday.
I spent this morning at the Hatter Blues, home of the New York Supporters of MCFC. After a thrilling victory, I headed back home to Connecticut and my wife who was 33 weeks pregnant with twins, our first children.
About 10 minutes after I got home she was sitting on the couch, I leaned over to speak to the girls as I had done throughout the pregnancy. I have been training them to love City even in utero, so I told them all about the match and the goals by Silva and Aguero. Just at that moment my wife told me to move fast…her water had broken.
We were at the hospital in Stamford in 15 minutes and the girls were born a short time later. Charlotte and Grace are doing great, along with their mom. These girls were SO excited about the new Premier League season that even the mention of it caused premature labor. Sport of the future, indeed.
Incidentally, I had not changed after coming home from the pub. I was wearing this under my scrubs as my girls were born.
We are part humbled, but mostly confused, that the pod hit No. 1 on iTunes’ podcast chart. We want to thank all GFOPs for listening and spreading the word about our new home and making our transition go a little easier than Louis Van Gaal’s. In case you missed it, you can listen, download and subscribe at:
There are few days in football loaded with such a sense of excitement as the first weekend of a Premier League season. Like the moment School’s Out for Summer, the 380 games lie ahead of us. Each an unknown voyage of discovery within which everything feels possible. Even for Crystal Palace fans.
Though in truth, a season can be broken into Leagues within Leagues — five teams battling for the title, seven challenging for a top four place, a gaggle aspiring to the Russian Roulette that is a Europa League place, and the rest aspiring to the vanilla comfort of midtable, free of the fear of relegation — before referee Mike Dean blows his whistle at Old Trafford to kick off the season, every fan of every team knows their dreams remain intact, unsullied by the harsh, unflattering light of reality, injuries, losses, disappointment and frustration.
So, which ever team you support — be it defending Champions Manchester City, or tiny newcomers, Burnley — savor every second of this countdown. With the big clubs all re-arming, it promises to be one of the most competitive in recent memory. And with so many fumblers, the relegation fight will be a savage Battle Royal. So raise a glass tonight, and dream dreams in the spirit of Shakespeare’s Ophelia who declared, “We know what we are, but not what we may be.”
EA Sports FIFA is one of our favorite ways to spend time when we’re not watching football or reading the collective works of Philip Larkin. EA’s FIFA 15 hits stores Sept. 23, and just the thought of it gives us The Thickening.
This summer, EA Sports gave a few lucky GFOPs a chance to preview the game at FIFA Fans First events in Seattle, NYC and, most recently, Portland.
Here are highlights of the Portland event, which included a trip to the MLS All-Star game, from GFOPs Andy Reynolds and Gil Elhart.
Until a couple of weeks ago, my favorite soccer-related memory was cramming into a local bar with several hundred of my fellow American Outlaws to watch John Brooks beat Ghana while beer dripped down on us from the rafters. That all changed pretty quickly when I got an email telling me that EA Sports were sending me to Portland for the MLS All-Star Game against Bayern Munich.
We were given a tour of Providence Park, a personalized Portland Timbers jersey, a shopping spree at the Adidas team store, and a chance to get some hands-on time with the upcoming FIFA 15 against the likes of Graham Zusi, Danny O’Rourke, and DeAndre Yedlin (the Timbers Army contingent bit their tongues on that one).
The crowd reactions and detail are both really cool, as is the addition of delayed offsides calls (I really thought my Portland team had scored against Man City for a second, and then reality prevailed). The new movement system is the real star, though. No longer do players move like they’re wading through molasses; they react quickly, make realistic runs off the ball, and the AI will even dash to the corner flag to waste time if they’re trying to close out a lead. It was also pretty neat to see players react positively or negatively to your decisions, missed shots, etc. (If that change had been incorporated into FIFA 2000, Emile Heskey would have been stuffed in a bag and shipped to an undisclosed location by his own teammates. Before halftime.)
Forgotten moments of U.S. soccer history No. 372: the day President Reagan played football with Pele.
GFOP Scott Ewing sent these Smithsonian-worthy artifacts of a day in 1982 when he and the rest of his team, the Green Raiders, visited the White House to hear the President and Pele speak about soccer. Afterwards, the Green Raiders played a game in the Rose Garden against another youth team, the Stompers. It’s fair to say the Green Raiders had a sizable advantage.
I don’t remember much of what Pele said. He played on our team, however once the scrimmage with the other kids team [The Stompers] began. And I remember him just dancing though everyone with the shiniest dress shoes I had ever seen. But he wouldn’t score on them — it would hardly be fair.
He would dribble around everyone then stop the ball near their goal and let us take it from there.
I do remember Reagan also had probably never seen a soccer game or ball in his life. To start our scrimmage he did a drop kick of the ball to us.
We were given jelly beans by the President when we left, as was Reagan’s tradition.
A memorable day but it was 32 years ago. I was mostly just excited to meet El Rey. And of course that I could say in all honesty, “I have played soccer with Pele.”
During the Guinness International Champions Cup we asked you to channel your inner-Philip Larkin in our #GICCPoets contest. We received many creative entries from GFOPs at games from the Big House to Cal Berkeley.
This week’s newsletter includes a remarkable #GFOP writing about his pro-soccer playing father’s dementia, an interview with our favorite football researcher Paul Carr, and news of our fantasy football league and its remarkable Prize Belt.
Two weeks ago, Nicholas won Men in Blazers and EA Sports FIFA Fans First contest. Not only did EA Sports give Nick a trip to NYC, incredible prizes and a first look at FIFA ‘15, it stirred Nicholas’ inner-Premier League conflict further. From Nicholas:
After winning this contest, I knew I was in trouble. The good folks at EA did it up real nice, got some quality time testing out FIFA15. The gameplay was clutch, and the graphics were amazing. Fans of FIFA will not be disappointed with the new upgrades and how they have made the game even more realistic.
Got to mingle with NYCFC’s man with the perfect hair David Villa (they have done an uncanny job perfectly replicating it in FIFA 15), and watch Jack Rodwell and Boyata paste some dudes on FIFA.
It was surreal meeting David Villa, it was a huge surprise from the EA folks when he entered the room, and everyone was in awe of his star power and his perfectly coiffed hair. Surprisingly, he picked Barca as his team when he played the game.
Got some amazing City swag, great seats for the game, and posed with the EPL trophy in my new City kit. Now what do I do? I’m being tugged in opposite directions, red or blue, Sanchez or Aguero, Giroud or Jovetic, Wenger or Pellegrini?
GFOPs, as the weekend draws near we wanted to let you know how excited we are for Monday night’s show in Portland. We are thrilled to travel to the football-mad Pacific Northwest, and partake in MLS All-Star Week with all of you.
Even if you’re not attending the show, we hope you’ll come to Kells (DOWNTOWN LOCATION) at 10 p.m. for a post-show drink.
I am fascinated by how American Premier League fans identify a rooting interest. Free of such obligations as a “local” team to support, the stories are most often full of wonder. The product of a chance exchange student experience in Leicester or a random relative hailing from Stoke.
One of my favorites was a Tottenham fan I encountered who had the Spurs tattoo inked on his forearm, the result of the fact that the North Londoners’ jerseys had once been sponsored by Thomson Travel and his surname was Thomson.
Out of such tiny details can all-consuming passion grow.
In the wake of the surge in US interest caused by the 2014 World Cup, we are receiving hundreds of emails from Americans asking themselves variations on the same question: facing the Premier League with a clean slate, who should they chose to support?
When Fox broadcast the Premier League, the rational choices were narrower. Only a couple of games were broadcast live. Why wouldn’t you support one of the big four — Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City or Arsenal — who were guaranteed to be broadcast every week?
But one season into the NBC-era in which every teams and every game is available, the options are suddenly boundless. Yes, on-field success remains a massive driver. The thrill of goals and glory remain alluring.
But let me make a case for diversification of interests. For supporting the road not taken. Cheering for the little guy. Full disclosure: I have lived for Everton Football Club from birth. Almost every lesson of life — both good and bad, joyous and painful — has come as a result.
Sport is ultimately about feelings. Feeling emotions you are meant to experience in everyday life — happiness, anticipation, fear, ecstasy, searing disappointment — but are regrettably numb to.
A palette of textured experiences that can be stunted by picking a big club. So my advice would be to dive into the rich histories of the subtler teams and the cities they hail from — revel in Aston Villa’s night of European Cup glory (Villa 1 Bayern Munich 0), marvel that Burnley, a town of just 73,000 people, has somehow gifted the world with both a Premier League team and Chumbawumba.
And savor Philip Larkin’s description of parts of Hull, a town in which ”silence (is) laid like carpet”.
I promise this: Every goal will feel like victory, and every victory, like a title win. So, let us know which team you end up with and why. And remember, once you have chosen a team, stick with it through thick and thin. You can change your partner, you can change your underwear, but you can never, ever change your football team.
For years, Rog has promised, if he owned a football team, they would wear a faux tuxedo as their jersey. Cultural y D Leonesa, which competes in the third-tier of Spanish football, have come bloody close with this “waiter’s jersey.” Via @InsideLaLiga
We offered GFOPs the chance to attend EA Sports FIFA Fans First Seattle event. Our winner, Andrew MackNair, got an inside look at FIFA 15, the chance to participate in a FIFA 15 tournament with Seattle Sounders and Tottenham Hotspur players, a stadium tour of CenturyLink Field and access to a Spurs’ training session, as well as a chance to see his own Spurs take on the Sounders. Here’s his recap of the weekend:
First of all: Should Rog or Davo ever need anything, from a kidney to a planted set of fingerprints, they should feel free to contact me as I am forever in their debt for affording me an amazing weekend of SOCKAH in Seattle.
I was lavished with a new Tottenham kit and a personalized Sounders kit, played the absolutely gorgeous FIFA 15 with Sounders and Spurs (including but not limited to Yedlin, Soldado and Dempsey) before everything culminated with an afternoon spent watching my beloved Tottenham come from behind to scratch out a result against a vastly superior MLS outfit (optimism!)
Kudos to Seattle, where a match is an event, and I’m 90% positive you can’t register to vote in an elextion unless you own a Sounders jersey. Somber comparisons could be made to the experience at my hometown Revolution matches… Suffice it to say the Sounders ownership and fans have crafted a truly unique American sports experience, and if ever you have a chance to see a game there, I would suggest you move heaven and earth to do so.
Thanks again to the Men In Blazers, EA Sports and everyone that made this happen, it could not have been better.
We are still collecting entries for the EA Sports FIFA Fans First event in Portland. Details are available here.