Football Tourism 2014

Alright. We’re up and running. Or, in my case, I’m up and gimping around. A couple weeks ago I decided I wanted to lose more of this beer gut – carved out of solid rock via craft beer I might add – so strapped on my New Balance 993s and told my wife it was time to head to Battersea Park. I failed to mention the running part to her until we were actually there and started to run to which she said, “Oh, what are we doing?” Shock and awe, dudes. Shock and awe. She does 5k, 10ks, half marathons, triathlons and all that.

Digression. Anyway, we moved to London for my job and have been lucky enough to travel to quite a few places (best part has been tacking work trips on to vacation time = portion of ticket is paid :) ). I’ve managed to squeeze in 10 or so stadiums and about 7 games since a) I made the initial trek over here to say, “hello, I’m moving here, team” and b) we actually moved here.

Here we go! (will be updated as we trek through the continent)

Edinburgh, Scotland – kilts, William Wallace, Braveheart, scotch whiskey, fog, futbol & spa treatments at The Balmoral

Easily the most working class/blue collar stadium I’ve seen so far on Football Tourism 2014 has been at Hearts. Wow. I know they recently went through administration – and it shows – but damn. I felt like I was back in Alameda, CA walking in to the gym at Chipman Middle School, alma mater of World Series winner Dontrelle Willis.

Hibernian

hibernian fc stadium

Hearts

hearts-fc-edinburgh-scotland-stadium-football-tourism-2014

 

London, England – Wembley Stadium, 2014 Skrill Premier Playoff, Punting, Pimms, Pusillanimous Gateshead, UK Ivy League vs State U

My wife’s cousin teaches up in Cambridge, so by extension I’m a lifelong U’s supporter. Come on, Stephen Hawking! This game brought the chance to go to the storied, a couple years, Wembley. Very nice stadium: modern, massive walkways, massive bar/eating area, comfortable and spacious seats. Very…American? Don’t worry, I’m not a super Patriot.

2014-skrill-premier-final-cambridge-gateshead-wembley

And video of the celebration of the second goal. Turns out when you’re in the concession area at half time, and the game restarts, you’re not clued in to this fact via a PA shoutout, so we missed the actual goal. Come on, Wembley.

Reaction to John Brooks’ Goal – Los Estados Unidos a Ghana

There was no way we weren’t Ghana win. Looking back, this was by far the best experience I had watching the USA games. USA v Belgium was great because I watched it with friendsand also one of the regulars at The Greyhound: an Englishman that’s a massive MLS fan. Go figure. LA Galaxy guy. He wore a Joe Gjaetens jersey for the games. Fantastic. Still, USA v Ghana took the cake.

Back to the lecture at hand, we watched the game at a place here in London called The Old King’s Head. It’s close to London Bridge;  is what you might consider an old fashioned pub; small; old wooden bar; cask beers; and probably regulars stretching back decades.  The newly minted American Outlaws London chapter locked down the pub, and based on the Facebook activity for it, I expected 30 or so people to be there. Welp, as I’m not wont to do especially for USA games, I showed up late (45 mins before kickoff or so) to a packed house of probably 75 folks. Apparently word had gotten out around the local universities, specifically around the study abroad American set, that this was the thing to do that night. It eventually turned in to 100 loud, drunk college kids with a few of us older (30s ;) ) folks sprinkled in.  All in all, an amazing experience. My buddy Chris, who’s come along with us to games at Fulham and Manchester United, said it was by far his favorite too and he’s not a massive futbol fan; just a sports dude.