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View Full Version : Returning from the Winter (and the UK)



bucksfan
03-23-2005, 11:10 PM
I recently returned home from 2 weeks in the good ol' United Kingdom (business, not pleasure). This was two weeks without anything in the way of significant North American sports happenings coming my way save for some text pasted into email attachments sent to me by friends. My ID couldn't get me out of our company's firewall in our UK offices, and I did not see fit to cause a stir about accessing it for only 2 weeks.

Anyway, I had not posted it seems in months, and really have not had many opportunities to read the board in depth in a while. Lotsa new faces, many seem to be quite nice, and lotsa old arguments/complaints, which are not so nice. I had some opinions on some of the goings ons, but instead thought I'd fill some of y'all in on what I learned about in England and also some sad news on my homefront as well.

During this trip, and courtesy of my new boss (he's my boss's boss, but the middle guy is retiring), I got to see my first real European soccer (football) game. I preface everything else by saying that I definitely fell into the stereotypical camp of the guy who had little use for the sport, and, not coincidentally, little understanding of it as well. However, my new boss is a season ticket holder for a team in the Championship League (Wigan). That is the league just below the Premiership, for which the more famous teams such as Manchester United, etc, play.

Anyway, he is as enthusiastic and ritualistic about his sport as I am about the Buckeyes basketball and football teams and the Reds, so I had to give it a try when he offered. It was a miserable, dreary rainy cold typical day in England - BUT I had a fantastic time! First of all it was so very interesting to draw the many apparent parallels to how we as fans approach some of our big sporting events. For comparison purposes, this game had 17K in attendance. But I really enjoyed the action, almost every second of it, even though the final score was (you probably guessed it or came close) 1-0, my boss's team. I just developed a total appreciation for the sport and the fans there. I will be using some broad generalizations here, but I'd say if I may estimate that maybe 60% of the "fans" in attendance at a NA sporting event know and really care enough about what is going on, then that number is 95% for European football. It was really a unique experience, with all the fans' chants and songs.

Now I am still and always will be a baseball, basketball, and football guy because it is what I was raised on and I'm old now (39 today!), but it definitely changed my perception of the sport. That and I know soccer is going to be my 3-yr-old daughter's 1st exposure to organized sport (which I encourage 100% no matter what the sport would be), so I figured her old man better get on the ball!

Unfortunately, after a very joyous reunion with my wife and daughter after being gone so long, we were all greatly saddened by some unexpectedly horrible news - we had to put our beloved golden retriever Sunny to sleep. She was only 9 and in apparently fine health (I guess a tumor on her spleen caused it to burst last Wed). We were/are quite broken hearted, but are getting it together and now looking into Golden Retriever rescue programs to help a guy or gal in need of an extremely loving and fun home. We believe our daughter right now to be a bit too young to do properly with a pup, so will probably wait a year or 2 for that and then add a little one to the mix along with whatever adult rescue golden we match up well with.

RFS62
03-24-2005, 12:01 AM
Sounds like you had a great trip, Bucksfan.

Very sorry to hear about your dog.

bucksfan
03-24-2005, 12:09 PM
Thanks 62. I had been to England before, but this tripwas much more enlightening.

GAC would probably be interested that I hopped a bus to Liverpool on Sunday. And I figured woy would appreciate my new-found appreciation for European football!

BTW - we now also have a line on a 2nd rescue Golden Retriever. We need to get out to see both of these guys very soon. The house seems so empty, or at least as empty as it can seem with an extremely active and imaginative 3-yr old girl running around!

jmcclain19
03-24-2005, 12:15 PM
bucksfan, sounds like you had a great trip my friend.

I'm going to hit you up in a few weeks, I myself am going to England this summer and have never been. Need some pointers.

Think its funny that your boss is a Wigan season ticket holder. I thought that town was more famous for its Rugby team?

westofyou
03-24-2005, 12:16 PM
BF, sorry to hear about your dog, my condolances.

The futbal game sounds fab.... the guy who wrote Hi-Fidelity and About a Boy also wrote Fever Pitch which is a obsessive look at his love of the game and Arsenal. That new Jimmy Fallon movie with the Red Sox's is an american version of the story. The english movie which had Colin Firth in it, anyway I follow the Premier league and I envy you. The 2nd divison is more less likely to have less crowds, the bigger stadiums in the Premiership can draw 50-60K regularly at the palaces of the league.

One thing about the singing is at times I hear it gets pretty brutal as in teh chant that MU endures regarding their teams plane crash in 56.

who's that dying on the runway?
who's that bleeding in the snow?

bucksfan
03-24-2005, 12:41 PM
jmcclain - Feel free to PM me any time. I'll be glad to offer any help that I can from my experiences. My boss is I guess just more partial to football. Wigan was still in1st last I saw and the top 2 teams go into the Premiership next season and get like 20mil pounds. I enjoyed watching some of both sports on the tvs in the pubs. I was actually quite into it.

woy - Thanks for your thoughts. Talking to my daughter about it that night was honestly the 2nd saddest thing I have personally dealt with. As far as the chants go, I could not make out most of the words so I have no clue as to the harshness, but man, the one MU endures sounds brutal!

bucksfan
03-25-2005, 04:08 PM
Attached are a couple photos from my seat at the game. Wigan is in blue for those who want to know!

Blimpie
03-25-2005, 04:22 PM
From one fellow dog lover to another, I am sorry for your loss.

RedFanAlways1966
03-25-2005, 04:36 PM
I am also sorry to hear about your dog! :(

I enjoyed reading about your futball experience. I am not a big fan of the game, although I enjoy watching The World Cup every 4 years. The pics are neat to see and it makes me think I am watching some remote digital cable channel.

I have to ask. Do the lower leagues serve as minor league clubs for the Premier League? Do Premier teams have exclusive rights to players on a certain team or do they have the rights to individual players? I have always wondered about that. Also... are the players in this league mostly UK guys or do you see more diversity (African, Western Asian, etc.)?

bucksfan
03-25-2005, 05:06 PM
Thanks Blimpie and RFA66. Your sentiments are appreciated. We are going to see a potential; new family member tomorow morning.

Regarding your questions RFA :
I am not certain of the rights of Premiership teams on other players. My thought is not, as Championship temas move up and down from the premiership (and consequently vice versa) based on their standings. So it would be odd if say Wigan won their league, then played in the Premiership league against a team with rights to their players... However I do recall conversation about teams like Wigan having basically an entire "lower league" system for kids on up to just below the big club. Maybe that's how it works overall. I'll go thru' my game program some more.

The two strikers and leading goal scorers for Wigan, Roberts and Ellington, are black. Not sure of their birth country though. I had a discussion with my boss about race relations. He did not see it as a real blatant problem presently, but thought as many of us do here in the US, that there is still an undercurrent of some sadly prejudiced people, but they tend to not display their stupidity in a big public scene such as a futball game anymore.

RedFanAlways1966
03-25-2005, 08:24 PM
Thanks, bucksfan! I was always curious about the structure of the leagues in England and this presented the opportunity to ask. What's Google?!? Did you notice if the "ale" prices were steep in their stadium like it is here for beer? :gac:

Glad to here about the family trip. I hope all goes well. :)

dsmith421
03-26-2005, 03:49 PM
Thanks, bucksfan! I was always curious about the structure of the leagues in England and this presented the opportunity to ask. What's Google?!? Did you notice if the "ale" prices were steep in their stadium like it is here for beer? :gac:

Glad to here about the family trip. I hope all goes well. :)

Lower division teams in England (and all of Europe) are totally separate entities and (as far as I know) are not allowed to have formal ties to Premier League clubs.

As the previous poster stated, all European leagues have a complex system of relegation and promotion. For example, at the end of each season the three worst teams in the Premiership are replaced by three teams from the First Division (the two best teams plus the winner of a playoff between teams 3-6). In England, there are innumerable classifications below the Premiership, but the main ones are the First Division (now called The Championship), the Second, the Third, and the Conference (which is mostly semi-pro).

Almost every club, regardless of size, has its own 'youth academy', including U-12, U-15, etc. teams. These would be the equivalent of the minor leagues. In addition, clubs often will loan out players to other clubs (usually, but not always, in a lower division) to get them playing time.

bucksfan
03-27-2005, 09:19 PM
Thanks dsmith. That is a much better and more qualified (obviously) explanation than I could have provided.

RFA - I did not sample the ale at the stadium (unlike me, but recall the nature of my trip!) so I cannot tell. What is the reference to google (maybe I am being dense here - is it in the pictures I posted?

bucksfan
03-27-2005, 09:23 PM
BTW - update : Monday after work we will be adding a new member to our family. We are picking up Parker, a 5 yr old extremely lovable and great-with-kids golden retriever as a result of our visit with him Saturday. No one will ever replace our Sunshine, but this guy needs our help, we need his, and we will make our own unique relationship. (I may call him "Cobra" as a nickname, though he looks anything but cobra-ish ;)

RawOwl UK
03-29-2005, 05:45 PM
Did you notice if the "ale" prices were steep in their stadium like it is here for beer? :gac:



Beer prices at the soccer games are not to bad. You could get a beer for around 2.20 depending which part of the country you are i.e North = cheap South = expensive . Not all grounds serve alchohol though due to crowd trouble that was prominent in the 70's & 80's .

Nice pics by the way :thumbup: Wigan looked like they were playing Ipswich Town that day both teams are currenty battling it out at the top of the Championship.

My team is called Sheffied Wednesday who 5 years ago were playing against Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool etc But now are playing in League One (the league under Wigan's) :cry:

We are averaging 22'000k fans this season which is fantastic and beats a few of the premier league crowds.

Wednesday used to have John Harkes the former US captain play for them in the early 90's . He was the first American to play at Wembley Stadium in a Final. :thumbup:

Any questions regarding football (sorry soccer ;) ) feel free to ask or anything England :thumbup:

Go Reds

creek14
03-29-2005, 05:48 PM
Sorry about the pup. :(

Glad you're getting a new guy who needs your love.

RawOwl UK
03-29-2005, 05:58 PM
The two strikers and leading goal scorers for Wigan, Roberts and Ellington, are black. Not sure of their birth country though. I had a discussion with my boss about race relations. He did not see it as a real blatant problem presently, but thought as many of us do here in the US, that there is still an undercurrent of some sadly prejudiced people, but they tend to not display their stupidity in a big public scene such as a futball game anymore.

Racism is no longer a problem at English football games . I have been a season ticket holder for Sheffield Wednesday since 1989 & cannot remember many incidents of racism. It was pretty bad in the 70's & early 80's but the game cleaned up it's act with a "let's kick racism out of football" campaign.

There was a incident at the Spain v England game in Madrid a few months ago whenever Englands only black player on the pitch Shaun Wright-Phillips touched the ball a large section of spanish fans made monkey noise's at him. This caused outrage throughout the Country & Spain were fined a large sum of money and were warned about there International future within the game.

Ellington & Roberts are both English but Roberts might be eligible to play for Jamaica due to his Grandparents birthplace.

RedFanAlways1966
03-29-2005, 09:12 PM
RFA - I did not sample the ale at the stadium (unlike me, but recall the nature of my trip!) so I cannot tell. What is the reference to google (maybe I am being dense here - is it in the pictures I posted?

Oh, nothing about the pics (they are great)! I was making fun of myself for not looking up the structure of the English leagues on Google.

bucksfan
03-30-2005, 02:29 PM
Thanks to dsmith and RawOwlUK providing better answers to the questions than I could have possibly given from my two week stint across the pond!

My boss from the UK is visiting me here in the states right now. He aims to be back home for Saturday's match and has filled me in on the race for the top 2 spots. Yes they were playing Ipswich Town when I visited. I believe those 2 and Sunderland are in a 3 way battle.

bucksfan
03-30-2005, 02:31 PM
Thanks creek. Parker is working out very well. In many ways he acts as tho' he had lived with us forever. Still weird to have a golden around but it is not Sun....

RFA66 - See, I was being dense! ;) I could have looked it up before my (non)answer to you too!

RawOwl UK
03-30-2005, 07:52 PM
Yes they were playing Ipswich Town when I visited.

Well Ipswich Play Rotherham United (my town :rolleyes: ) next week . I hope Ipswich stuff them and send them down. Rotherham fans hate Wednesday with a passion :confused:

RBA
03-30-2005, 08:04 PM
I have nothing to add, except to say I was stationed at RAF Mildenhall from 1993 to 1997. I enjoyed the country, but the food was downright awful :p: (with the exception of Fish and Chips).

RawOwl UK
03-30-2005, 08:12 PM
with plenty of salt & vinager right ?

westofyou
03-30-2005, 08:14 PM
with plenty of salt & vinager right ?

You like that England W today?

RawOwl UK
03-30-2005, 08:20 PM
Well I went to the game tonight :) just got back from a 2 hour train journey after 8 hours of drinking. Azerbaijan put up a decent fight in the first half without causing England any trouble at all. Second half England scored 2 fine goals through Gerrard & Beckham . Beckham was fantastic second half and got a standing ovation when he was substitued.

westofyou
03-30-2005, 08:28 PM
Well I went to the game tonight :) just got back from a 2 hour train journey after 8 hours of drinking. Azerbaijan put up a decent fight in the first half without causing England any trouble at all. Second half England scored 2 fine goals through Gerrard & Beckham . Beckham was fantastic second half and got a standing ovation when he was substitued.

yeah I watched it on TV, Beckams chest/touch/shoot was beautiful thing to watch as was the 1st goal and the bounces it took to get in.

France certainly tanked.

RFS62
03-30-2005, 08:31 PM
France certainly tanked.


Can you imagine that.

westofyou
03-30-2005, 08:44 PM
Can you imagine that.

Their offense has dizzapeered.. no?

RawOwl UK
03-31-2005, 04:50 AM
Their offense has dizzapeered.. no?

Thierry Henry is a magnificent player BUT he just does not produce in international football. France will now struggle to qualify for a place in the world cup.

Anyone see Austria's goal against Wales ? :eek: The Goalkeeper will be having nightmares about that one. :laugh: