Skip to main content

Another Reason Why I Love English Football & Why You Should Too

That crest tho.

Among the many reasons to love the beautiful game (and there are reasons to hate it, mind you) are spectacles like today's FA Cup match between Arsenal FC and Sutton United FC.

For those who don't know, the FA Cup is a knockout tournament that takes place during regular season play and includes the first 10 -- yes ten -- levels of English professional football. Arsenal are in the Premier League, the equivalent of the NFL or the Major Leagues. Sutton United are not. Sutton are in the fifth division, also called the National League, meaning they'd have to get promoted four times in a row in order to be in the same league as Arsenal. The fact that they made it into the fifth round of the FA Cup, to even be on the same field as the likes of Arsenal, is absolutely historic for the club and is one of those rare moments that makes the FA Cup what it is.

There's no real equivalent of this in American professional sports, but let's just say it's kind of like the New York Yankees playing against the Single-A Vermont Lake Monsters (who actually exist) in Burlington, Vermont during the regular season, in a game that actually means something.

Arsenal are used to playing against 60,000 people in Emirates Stadium, while Sutton United's field -- the adorably English "Gander Green Lane" stadium -- holds 5,000. Arsenal players make salaries on the order of the hundreds of thousands of pounds per week, while Sutton United have a part-time school teacher on their roster. Thus, you can imagine the excitement for Sutton United and their supporters, and the sort of queasy annoyance for Arsenal: Sutton have nothing to lose, while the only acceptable result for Arsenal is a sound thrashing and even at that, it's what's expected and thus "No big deal." Arsenal almost can't win.

As it turns out, Arsenal did win 2-0. But it was a good game and the point is Sutton United could have won and for one brief shining moment the mostly immutable laws of big money soccer supremacy could have been flipped upside down and David could have beaten Goliath. Turns out, it was not to be. But that's why we watch...


Popular posts from this blog

New Yorker Fiction Review #146: "Three Short Moments in a Long Life" by John L'Heureux

Issue: May 9, 2016

Story: "Three Short Moments in a Long Life" by John L'Heureux

Rating: $

Review: I feel like this is a somewhat tired technique, straight out of Creative Writing 101: write a story consisting of three or four different snapshots or snippets out of a character's life at different ages, sort of like a series of written photographs. Fun perhaps, but strikes me as a bit amateurish. However, I also think L'Heureux succeeds here by pushing it a bit further, playing with the character's tentative attempts at something close to faith -- in childish, adult, and mature adult ways -- and tying all three "Short Moments" together in a subtle and readily decipherable way.

L'Heureux's prose and his frank humor and his ability to glorify and find the meaning in the mundane events and thoughts of every day life, and thereby turn the life of an ordinary person into a drama with meaning and significance puts me in mind of John Irving. As well a…

New Yorker Fiction Review #151: "The Bog Girl" by Karen Russell

From the June 20 issue...

My loyal readers (if there are still any, which I doubt) will know I'm usually not a fan of Magical Realism, which, as you may also know, is Karen Russell's stock in trade. That said, there's nothing I love more than having my antipathy for magical realism shattered by an awesome story like "The Bog Girl."

Briefly, an Irish teenager discovers the body of a young woman who as been buried in a bog for over 2,000 years and begins to date her. What more do you need, right? If I'd read that one-line description somewhere else, and wasn't on a mission to review every New Yorker short story, I doubt I'd have read "The Bog Girl." But maybe I should start doing a George Costanza and do the opposite of everything I think I should do.

Where Russell succeeds here is in two main areas: 1.) Making us really love Cillian, the teenager who falls in love with the bog girl, and 2.) pulling the unbelievable trick making the characters…

Water Review: San Pellegrino 250ml Bottle

Damn you, tiny little bottle of San Pellegrino. So little. So cute. But what are you really good for other than to make me wish I had a full bottle of Pellegrino? 
Good as a palate cleanser after a nice double espresso, I will give it that. But little else. The suave yet chaotic burst of Pellegrino bubbliness is still there, but with each sip you feel the tragedy of being that much closer to the end of the bottle, that much faster.

This is a bottle of water made specifically for the frustrated, for the meticulous, for the measurers among us with a penchant for the dainty. This water does not love you in the wild, on a sunny porch or with the raucous laughter of friends. No...much the opposite. Whatever that may be.

Best drunk in tiny, tiny sips, while forcing oneself through an unreadable and depressing Russian novel one does not want to read but feels one should, on a cold, wet day in December that promises four months of gloom and depression...or in pairs or threes and poured over …