First impressions can be deceptive, and anyone who views the life of our US correspondent Luge Pravda cannot fail to be impressed by his corner office on Wall Street, apartment in trendy Greenwich Village and stunning wife. Before you utter the words “lucky bugger” let me remind you of the complete lack of opportunities to watch “soccer” he has. Sure there are the New York Red Bulls, who have never actually played in the city or state of New York, instead building a new stadium across the Hudson in New Jersey, but the product there is so scrubbed for the US audience that you still expect them to play in quarters rather than two halves, and stop regularly for time outs.
His only fix with the reality of what is going on in the Premier League normally starts with a 7am visit on a Saturday to Navada Smiths where hundreds of similar starved football-starved ex-pats congregate to watch games back to back from England. This is one of the few benefits of the increased influence TV has on the game – a trip to the pub to watch football can now stretch over 7 hours. Last weekend, with Ben in town they headed down to watch Everton v Man Utd, West Ham v Chelsea before tucking into Burnley v Preston North End, all served up with lashings of Guinness. When they staggered out of the bar into bright sunlight (bars in New York have to have blacked out windows just in case the actions of drinking and watching football offend the moderates) at 2pm they still had a whole afternoon to, er, drink some more. Continue reading
For hundreds of small football clubs across Europe this week sees the start of their cup adventures. A win at this stage in some of the smaller countries and they may get lucky and draw one of the big boys, whilst in England it will be a few more rounds before the 402 teams who will be playing in the Extra-Preliminary round this week will have the chance to play a once in a lifetime game.
My cup adventures, unsurprisingly were going to start in Copenhagen. Many of the teams who enter into the Ekstra Bladet cup are no more than Saturday League teams. Many of the grounds are simply playing fields with a rope around them. However, the rewards for some of the 88 teams are great. A win at this stage and they will go onto the draw with 8 of the Superliga teams (those who finished 5th and below), so this season that includes recent champions AaB and 2004 runners up FC Midtyjlland. Last season regional side Helsingor3000 drew the plum tie when they hosted FC Copenhagen in a game that had to be played during a midweek afternoon as the ground had no floodlights.
Our aim this year was to try and follow the cup in England and Denmark in traditional style. Pick a team and watch them until they get knocked out, then follow the winners. We have tried this before, most recently with Grays Athletic but their subsequent draw away to Carlisle United put pay to our ambitions. Our English starting point is still up for debate in the Fuller household – I want to do Lordswood FC but parental duties may mean I end up at Lincoln Moorlands Railways FC – either way they will have my full support. Continue reading