Yeah, yeah, yeah… I actually flubbed the “World Football 1” post by posting it rather than scheduling it. I would have avoided having to change the name already when I came up with the spectacular name change idea. So, let’s just go ahead and forget about that and get into the Footie Specter column already, shall we?
In the last column, I mentioned all kinds of teams that I follow around the world. I thought I’d step back a little bit and explain my experience with the most popular sport in the world and explain where I’m coming from without getting too specific on current events.
Yes, this was scheduled. 😛
When I was in my “pre-teens,” I played soccer. I was a player for three whole years and gave up playing when the format wildly changed in the place that I came from. That’s a long winded way of saying that Beulah Soccer (in Beulah, ND) used to be just a self contained league on it’s own, then branched out into a larger “multi-city” competition and that led me to drift away from the sport.
I will say, though, that if I’d have known I could go pro as a soccer player, I would have kept playing!
In my first year, I was a member of the “gold team,” as there were about six or seven teams that formed of a specific age range team. I was number 33, which becomes important in a little bit, and I have learned that I was chosen as a defensive minded player because I was a little aggressive on offense. Later now in life, I haven’t had the fitness level to play offense, although I haven’t played in a really long time. This first year the gold team went undefeated. We were awesome.
The second year I played, I was again chosen for the gold team and I was number 34. See? Progression! Yes, 33 was already taken. This second year, we weren’t as good as the year before. We were pretty good on the field but I clearly remember lots of times I was working harder than the strikers on the field. We did not win the season, I don’t remember how badly we failed.
The final year was the first year we did some traveling. The exposure to outside cities, and not being able to go to over half the away games, really put a damper on my love for playing. I also didn’t see a future playing this game because as an American, I wasn’t exposed to the concept of “professional soccer,” which was really only overseas at this point. This year I was clad in “red,” on the Beulah Red team as number 35. I had progressed in number, again, and not being clad in gold (of which Beulah no longer had an option for, I came to learn) was a bit of a heart breaker. The Beulah Red team lost more often than we won and I can tell you that I don’t remember how many games we played overall, but we only won three times.
In 1992, I was keen to observe the news about the formation of the “Premier League,” of which I was introduced to Manchester United. I did a little research and discovered there WAS professional soccer! Hold the phone… why didn’t anyone tell me about this before? What did I immediately go out and do? I played me some more soccer.
I was terrible. Like, I was “I just discovered how to play the game” vs “I’ve been playing since I was 11” terrible. I’ve gotten a little better but I don’t play on a regular basis and at my current age, I’d have a hell of a time going pro. That’s beside the point. I discovered that pro soccer was no longer an option for me because I’d quit and tried to come back. Live and learn.
I didn’t stop WATCHING, though. I maybe saw three whole games that first 92-93 season. I probably only caught another ten games between 93 and 97, most of which were broadcast while we were overseas (I was in the Navy). The “drought” really hit hard when all I had was MLS to watch, which I was initially excited about and chose DC United to be my team, starting in 1993, but really only started searching out the games in the middle 2000s. I did see a handful of DC United games but by the time I really got to enjoy them, they started to suck.
During a free preview on our satellite provider for some foreign league in 2008 or 2009, I discovered I have a love for other clubs than Manchester United. Celtic, for instance, I started following right around there and I’ve been a supporter ever since. I have seen every World Cup since it was in the US and every time it comes around I am there wanting to see great football.
Yes, I’m going to start saying football because I’m not “a dumb American fan.”
While I enjoy the World Cup, I much more enjoy club level competition. I’d rather watch Manchester United, DC United (soon Portland Timbers), Celtic, or the Shamrock Rovers than Brasil, Switzerland, or Germany national teams.
I guess that might just be me but with any luck, you’ll start getting into the sport if you aren’t already watching.
There’s my background. I hope I didn’t bore you to tears. I’ll get a little more “normal” with Footie Specter 3, folks.