Last week, we noticed amazing pictures of a Blazer patch at football grounds around Europe on our Twitter timeline. It blew our mind to see the patch on display, Flat Stanley-style, everywhere from the San Siro to Selhurst Park. It turns out, it’s the work of one man, GFOP Dave Pawlik. Dave, who lives in Portland, Ore., and his brother Mike have been on European soccer sojourns for several years running. He tells us the Blazer patch has become a tradition. We asked Dave, who studied abroad in Norwich and supports the Canaries, to explain how it started and talk about the grounds he’s visited. He writes:
For my 40th birthday in 2011, my brother and I devised a trip to England, primarily to see the recently-promoted Canaries. We created an itinerary on our own, and went to 6 stadiums in 8 days (Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers, Norwich City, West Ham, Arsenal and Manchester United). We loved the environment and the atmosphere, even though we really didn’t know who or what we were watching.
We returned the following year. That year we went to matches at Fulham, Aston Villa, QPR again, Huddersfield Town (not kidding), Manchester City, Liverpool, Swansea City and Tottenham. We loved seeing the differences between the pitches and the stadia and the fans and the chants. We discovered places that we loved (like Tottenham) and places that we didn’t (like Villa).
The third year, we expanded to the continent and I had the idea to bring along the Blazer patch that my brother had purchased for me that Christmas. We visited Borussia Dortmund and Hamburg as well as Southampton, Tottenham, Nottingham Forest, Everton and West Brom.
We continued the tradition for a 4th year this year, with more continental football. This year we went to Italy (Juventus, Inter, Lazio), France (PSG) and Amsterdam (Ajax) as well as back to Arsenal and Crystal Palace. We even went to a Ligue 2 game, but I’d rather not talk about that game. It’s 90 minutes that I’ll never get back.
We enjoyed our sojourn to the continent, particularly Juventus, but we are both die hard Premier League fans now. And even though my beloved Canaries are not actually in the Premier League (at least for now) I say without hesitation that I’d rather spend a rainy Tuesday in Stoke than return to Paris or Rome.
If any of you follow Dave’s example and infuse football grounds around the world with a dose of suboptimal, we would love to see the proof. With MLS about to start, and so many of you planning Premier League pilgrimages this spring, we ask you to send us any images of your Blazer patches at grounds around the globe. Best way, via social media with the hashtag #PatchatthePark.