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: "The Apologizer" by Milan Kundera

Issue: May 4, 2015

Rating: $$

Review: It took me five years and three separate attempts to finish Milan Kundera's famous novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but in spite of that, quotes and insights from that book still rattle round my head on a weekly basis. What I mean to say is: my feelings on Kundera are very similar to my feelings on Haruki Murakami. I enjoy reading his work, but in small doses, like this short story.

Like Murakami, Kundera uses elements of magical realism, but where in a Murakami story you might encounter a flying dolphin or a disappearing hotel or a person who has lived his whole life in the same room, refusing to leave, Kundera's magical realism offers more direct insights and perspective on real life.

In Kundera's worlds, time and space are malleable and everything that ever happened in history is happening at the same time, and the narrator is a completely omniscient, caring, witty, and hands-on god-like being.

And so it is with "The Apo…

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: "Meet the President!" by Zadie Smith

Each week I review the short fiction from a recent issue of The New Yorker. If you told me when I was 12 that I'd be doing this I'd have been like, "Dork. There's no such thing as blogs," and I'd have been right...

Issue: Aug. 12 & 19, 2013

Story: "Meet the President!"

Author:Zadie Smith

(Please note: I've developed a highly sophisticated grading system, which I'll be using from now on.  Each story will now receive a Final Grade of either READ IT or DON'T READ it. See the bottom of the review for this story's grade...after you've read the review, natch.)

Plot: Set in England, far into the future (lets say 2113) a privileged youth of 15, named Bill Peek, encounters a few poor villagers from a small, abandoned coastal town on the southeast shore. He meets a little girl named Aggie, who is going to her sister's funeral. Peek is cut-off from real life by a sophisticated video game system that is implanted in his head, therefore th…

A Piece of Advice I Learned From My Grandfather

My grandfather was one of the most learned men I know. He read widely and voraciously, and not just in the sciences (he was a doctor); he loved politics, philosophy, and great literature as well. Whenever he finished a book he would write his thoughts about the book in the front cover and then sign and date it. To this day every once in a while I will open a book from my bookshelf or my mother's bookshelf, or at one of my family members' homes, and there will be my grandfather's handwriting. He was also a great giver of his books; if you remarked that you liked a particular one or wanted to read it, you were almost sure to take it home with you.

Reading is a very solitary pursuit but my grandfather was not a solitary person. He relished having family and friends around him which is convenient because he was blessed with a lot of both. And he carried out his intellectual life in a very "public" way as well. He was, in some ways, an intellectual evangelist. If he r…