Football without fans is nothing

Note: This is an email I sent to Liverpool FC regarding their participation in the newly-announced “European Super League.” If you support one of the clubs announced to be a part of this league—AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Tottenham—please consider sending a similar message to your club.

“At a football club, there’s a holy trinity – the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don’t come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques”

Bill Shankly

Dear Liverpool and ownership, 

By some metrics, I am a new fan. I have “only” supported Liverpool for a decade and a half or so. However, I fully intend to support Liverpool for my whole life with as much love and passion as I have so far. 

Or at least, that’s how I felt before I read about Liverpool joining the European Super League, which I feel is a greedy, soulless plan that goes against the spirit of football, the spirit of Liverpool, and all the values that made me fall in love with this team. 

Continue reading “Football without fans is nothing”

Comfort food, in media form

The last few weeks have been hard. I mean, obviously the last seven months have been hard, but the last few weeks have hit another downswing.

Cases here in Ireland are going exponentially back up, the government has thus far decided another full lockdown isn’t necessary despite the strong recommendations of the Emergency Health committee (citing mental health and unemployment as a reason despite having spent the last decade being criticised for underfunding mental health services, and the last few months claiming that unemployment support payments are too high), and with the weather changing to autumn (which in Ireland is aka winter lite aka endless rain), it’s hard to find things to get excited about after work when I know it’s going to be shit weather and I won’t even be able to go out for a walk and some fresh air.

When I start feeling like this, it’s nice to have some cosy, happy things to turn to. The media equivalent of comfort food, these are the things that have been making me feel good when everything else feels bad.

Continue reading “Comfort food, in media form”

On Never Walking Alone

Just over two months ago, a few days before I moved to Ireland, I was sitting in the living room of my parents’ home watching Manchester City play Chelsea. There were no fans in the stadium, hadn’t been since the Premier League had restarted after a long, coronavirus-induced break. Stakes were fairly high for each team. A win for Chelsea would boost their Champions League qualification hopes, while a win for City would keep them in the title race for one more week. Chelsea’s young American Christian Pulisic opened the scoring, then City’s Kevin De Bruyne equalised. In the second half, a handball saw Fernandinho sent off and Willian step up to the penalty spot to bury a second goal for Chelsea. Twenty minutes later, the game was over… and suddenly Liverpool were champions.

Continue reading “On Never Walking Alone”

World Cup 2018: Get Hype

You, today: *posts that Justin Timberlake “It’s Gonna Be May” meme*
Me, an intellectual: May means that the World Cup starts next month!!!!!!

Whether you’re an American who only follows the USMNT, whether you’re living in New Zealand and realising that most of the games are going to be on in the middle of the night, whether you’re just not that into soccer, you might not be feeling too hyped about the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup being held in Russia this June/July. However, I regret to inform you that this opinion is wrong and that instead you should be extremely hyped. If you need a little bit of assistance coming around to this valid and correct mindset, here are a few things you can do to help yourself out so that you’ll be ready to scream at your television and swear at the ref by the time June 14 rolls around.

Continue reading “World Cup 2018: Get Hype”

This weekend in #sports: 1 out of 4 ain’t bad?

Italy 20 – 61 Wales, Scotland 10 – 40 Ireland, England 55 – 35 France

I’ve never been a big sports fan in general. I’ve always liked to play sports, but apart from the Olympics fever that grips us all to some degree every two years, I won’t watch much of anything apart from football [note: to be fair, I do make up for this by watching as much football as humanly possible].

However, while living in Ireland I came to discover that rugby is much more similar to soccer football than American football in terms of skill and speed, with a set of rules I still don’t quite understand but find interesting to watch. Sitting on the floor of a packed Galway pub, at the edge of my non-existent seat while the referee deliberated about France’s last-second try in the final match of the 2013 Six Nations (the try was eventually taken away due to a forward pass, giving Ireland the win both of the match and the tournament), was at least as intense as watching anything during this summer’s football World Cup.

I caught the odd match on television or at the pub during the year, and went to see Munster take on Clermont live in Limerick in November (a fun, if cold, experience), but I don’t follow any team or league closely like I do football. Still, when this year’s Six Nations rolled around, I was firmly supporting Ireland. And this year’s tournament was just as dramatic as the last.

000a5500-642

On the final day, Wales, Ireland, and England all had the chance to nab the title. Each team needed to win their match (against Italy, Scotland, and France, respectively), and then furthermore they had to have a higher points difference than either of the other two. With Wales beating Italy comfortably, Ireland had to win by 21 points to take the lead. Despite odds, they managed a record-tying victory over Scotland to put themselves ahead.

One of the key moments of the game came when Scotland appeared to have gotten a try, but video replay (come on football, get on this!) showed Ireland had made an important tackle to knock the player forward. The commentators speculated this could have been the difference-making tackle, and they turned out to be absolutely correct. In what has been said to be one of the best matches in recent memory (obviously I can’t comment having only watched one previous tournament and having only seen one half of this match due to being on the way to PPL Park to see the Union – more on this in a moment), England tok on France, needing a 26 point margin of victory to overtake Ireland. For the last 5 minutes, England was close, needing only one try to get ahead, but in the end they couldn’t quite get there. Despite scoring over 50 points against France, their points difference ended at +21, and the Irish boys in green were victors once again!

Philadelphia Union 0 – 2 FC Dallas

Now the bad times begin. Remember that picture of the snow from my post Friday? Well, 24 hours later the weather looked like this:

IMG_7946

The match had been postponed from the day before and the reschedule meant that my dad and I were able to pick up some fairly cheap tickets, so we headed to PPL Park in Chester, outside of Philadelphia. I didn’t follow the MLS closely the last two seasons, given that many of the matches started at midnight or later due to the time difference, but I was excited to see them again.

At first, things looked alright. Dallas were outplaying Philadelphia on the wings, with the U unable to match their opponents’ bursts of speed. But when about 20 minutes in, Sheanon Williams was injured and substituted for Fernandinho, things started to go downhill. Things went from bad to worse before the end of the first half; a stupid, Fellaini-esque elbow by Zach Pfeffer saw him sent off, and the Union were down to 10 men for the rest of the game.

The second half was sluggish, with two goals by FC Dallas giving them the 3 points, but few strong attempts overall. I was impressed by Eric Ayuk, a midfielder who debuted during the match and at least had the speed and push to compete with the opposing team, but as a whole the Union need to do much better in their next match. However, it’s still always fun to go to a game live, especially at a nice stadium like PPL Park, and especially when the weather is 55F and sunny after a day of 34 and snow.

IMG_7951

Liverpool 1 – 2 Manchester United

Well. This was the big one. I had a good feeling about it, based on Liverpool’s recent form. A good enough feeling that I had no qualms about talking smack to my United-supporting boyfriend (although to be fair I would probably do that even if our form was LLLLL). That feeling didn’t last long. Juan Mata is the only player I like at Manchester United (I was sad when he left Chelsea for the only team I dislike more than Chelsea), so of course he scored the first (and later the second) goal. Liverpool were outplayed at every turn in the first half.

I hoped that things might pick up in the second half, and the entry of Stevie G, back from injury, seemed to indicate that they might. Well, the drama picked up, but not to Liverpool’s benefit. Gerrard was shown a red card for a reckless tackle after less than a minute on the pitch, unceremoniously putting an end to his long string of entertaining matches against Liverpool’s biggest rival.

11079990_10153318002662573_6203709142872888566_n

While even with my obvious bias I have to admit that there was some merit to the sending off, an equally biased United supporter should then have to admit that the referee should’ve sent Phil Jones off shortly afterward for an equally bad tackle. Instead, he merely received a yellow card – the latest in a long line of bad refereeing decisions in the Premier League this season (although at least Atkinson sent off the right Liverpool player).

Despite the blow, I actually felt more optimistic about the team when the match ended. We conceded another goal (Mata again), but pulled one back with a great run by Coutinho leading to a goal from Sturridge. In the final minutes, Mignolet saved a penalty taken by Wayne Rooney, continuing his long, goalless time at Anfield (only 1 goal in 11 games played against us at our home ground). It was a dirty game, and obviously not the result we wanted, but I guess it could have been worst.

Barcelona 2 – 1 Real Madrid

Take that last sentence above and transplant it here. A dirty game, a bad result, but at least it was exciting.

11084277_10150808657894953_8359954117955816094_n

Blah blah blah, something something Ronaldo versus Messi… now that that’s out of the way, I’ll begin with the worst part: Suarez reminded Liverpool fans what we’re missing. If we could’ve brought him on instead of Balotelli, sure, he might’ve bitten Rooney, but he would’ve scored an equaliser, and really, would anyone (but Wayne) really care?

Poor defending and a good free kick led to Barcelona’s first goal. The drama began a minute later when Pepe was booked for a foul on Suarez. A few minutes after that, the latter also went into the book for a foul on the former. Fight, fight, fight, fight…

Of course it was Ronaldo who equalised, but the best move of the play was Benzema’s backheel. Obviously the best possible commentator for El Clásico is BeIn Sport’s exuberant Geordie, Ray Hudson, who waxed poetically/orgasmically about this and every other play of the game.

In the second half: more yellow cards! Suarez scored – ugh. Mascherano acted like a diving whiny brat. Barcelona won. Not great, Bob.

So there you have it: this weekend in “Matches I care about of sports I watch.” Tune in next week (or after international break), maybe, and hopefully at least one of these teams (excluding Ireland), will get a few more points in the bag.

Media and Misc of the Year (aka the obligatory Best of 2014 review post)

Boyhood-DI

Films

  1. Boyhood, dir. Richard Linklater – Filming over 12 years could have turned out gimmicky, but Boyhood was a moving and beautiful story of family and growing up. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so emotional while watching a film.
  2. Calvary, dir. John Michael McDonagh – The preview for this Irish film made it out to be a dark comedy, but despite actors such as Dylan Moran, Chris O’Dowd, and even star Brendan Gleeson (in maybe his best ever work), it’s a heartwrenchingly dark film with moments of humour.
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel, dir. Wes Anderson – I’ve loved every film I’ve seen of Anderson’s, but for some reason hadn’t watched one since The Life Aquatic. This was a good place to start back, with his typical aesthetic and great performances.
  4. Gone Girl, dir. David Fincher – I read the book in one frantic weekend before seeing the film, and the twists and turns and madness of it all still shocked me. Though not as much as it shocked the person sitting behind us who couldn’t stop saying “What the fuck” at the end.
  5. Obvious Child, dir. Gillian Robespierre – A sweet, funny little film about a stand-up comedian who gets pregnant and has an abortion. The characters feel like your friends.

The-Antlers-Familiars

Music

  1. The Antlers, Familiars – This album is one of those where the sound just fills the room when you listen to it. There are so many layers combining beautifully with strange, sad lyrics.
  2. Alt-J, This is All Yours – Speaking of strange, among other oddities Alt-J’s second album samples Miley Cyrus, and somehow it really works. They also put on one of the top 3 live shows I saw this year (and in fairness, the top 2 are my favourite bands, The National and Arctic Monkeys).
  3. St. Vincent, St. Vincent – I’m declaring this the year of the excellent self-titled album. And St. Vincent’s is the best of them, with an album that is both strange and wonderful.
  4. Hozier, Hozier – You’ve probably been hearing “Take Me to Church” all the time for the past 6 months, unless you’re in Ireland in which case you’ve been hearing it all year. And it hasn’t gotten old yet.
  5. Taylor Swift, 1989 – Part of me can’t believe that Taylor Swift of all people is bumping my forever girl Shakira off my Best Of list, but most of me thinks that “Blank Space” is such a jam I don’t even care.

Continue reading “Media and Misc of the Year (aka the obligatory Best of 2014 review post)”