POTM (nov 2012): 1 Pound

I like pic of the month because it’s one of the few places on my blog where I don’t have to talk about myself. Unless it’s a stupid picture, then everyone will say:

“YOU”,

who me?,

“YES, YOU SEAN!”

“WHY DID YOU SHOW US SUCH A DUMB PICTURE!”

Then it will become about me pretty quickly.

Anyway, this month I’ve avoided another footballing picture for a couple of reasons.

Actually, there is really only one reason i chose this months picture: IT’S HILARIOUS!

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The most fun you can have with a pound!

I chuckle every time I see this. I think it’s priceless – Ya see what I did there? ūüėČ

It does beg the question, is there anything funner you can do with a pound?

Here is a list of other things you could do with a pound:

  • Buy a candy bar (Close, but no cigar)
  • Ride the ferris wheel (no)
  • Buy a lottery ticket (possible, but unlikely)
  • Put 1/4 gallon of gas in your car (fun for about 6.349 miles)
  • Get a train ticket to Ilkley or Guiseley (umm, really?)
  • Make a little kid happy (until they swallow it)
  • ¬† ¬† ¬† – He’s poopin by the pound! haha ok that’s funny
  • Ask for change (for a pound, be serious)
  • Tip the bartender (yea for like 1 beer = no fun)
  • Go to a public bathroom in the UK at least 3 times
  • Sadly, you can’t even buy a coffee for that these days

I think we have a clear winner here.

That’s just my opinion, if you can think of something funner to do, let me know and I’m happy to give it a try!

As always, a little reminder to use your head-first when you spend pounds!

God Bless,

Seano

All the previous Pic’s of the Month can be found here!

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Video Gems!

Since I am bored of telling you about myself – I know you thought that would never happen – I am going to simply show you some soccer videos that I thought were pretty good. On my end though, football opportunities have picked up and training has been going well, so I have been encouraged and excited about that.

I also realize this is a terribly unoriginal idea for a blog…oh well.

Since everyone has been stuffing their guts the last few days, I thought I would indulge you in a feast for your eyes. Here are some videos that I have come across recently that I really enjoyed. I hope you do too.

We’ll start with an old video, that I just came across recently. If you know I am a Manchester United fan, than I hardly need to explain this one.

Watching that video just puts a smile on my face. Celebrating in the locker room after a big game is one of the most rewarding and memorable things a player will do.

Moving on. When the wild and¬†erratic¬†Swede wreaked havoc on England in a friendly international game a few weeks ago, the football world were all in awe of him. His fourth goal (yes, his 4th in the game) in the 4-2 win was quite remarkable and had everyone ooing, awing and googly eyed…and for very good reason. While we all enjoyed the moment – I think even some English fans found some pleasure in it – someone stepped in and said “what’s new?”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores jaw dropping goals all the time! If you have time you can see 24 of them here (the last one is his wonder goal against England recently).

Despite his wonderful acrobatics and plethora of breathtaking goals, Ibrahimovic isn’t the most appealing character in World football. If he was paid to make friends, he would probably spend most of his time kicking people in the unemployment line. On the other hand, the guy in the next video is one of the most like-able players in world football. Throughout his career, he has also had no shortage of spectacular moments.

Now, of course we all love Ronaldinho because he scores goals like that. But we also love him, because of his joy; he never seems to be without a smile. He plays with an undeniable passion and love for the game. His reaction to this goal is just as phenomenal as the goal itself. He gives honor and respect to the game he loves so much, instead of looking to get honor and respect  from it.

I couldn’t get the next video directly into my post, but its a fun one! The improbability of the situation makes it quite impressive.

brazilian-midfielder-felipe-melo-saves-a-penalty-v-elazigspor

Not many field players at the top level can say they’ve stopped a penalty kick. Saving a PK (I saved one once in high school!) is the equivalent of scoring a spectacular goal for a goalkeeper. Yet, as you can see from this players reaction, the sensation was something completely new and exciting to him!

Now for a bit of humor. This one is straight from the blooper real. This is one of those moments that you would just have to except and try to forget about as soon as possible.

Alright, that’s it from me everyone. Hope that even if you are not a fan of soccer you can at least appreciate some of the more fantastic, and not-so-fantastic, moments it has to offer.

Hope to have some good news to report soon!

Until then, go head first.

Happy (Belated) Thanksgiving!

Seano

Bits and Pieces

Rome was not built in a day. In the same way a tower is not built as one piece and a pie is not made with one ingredient. We all have our own Rome’s to build, and it is important to realize that each one will be made up of bits and pieces; it is not one giant block that falls out of the sky and hits you on the head. So, here are a few of the bits and pieces that have been added to my Rome the last few weeks.

I have been getting more consistent training with a few amateur sides in the area. So, at least a couple times a week I am able to get into a team training environment, which has been beneficial. The training level is of varying quality and in some cases the speed of play, and more particularly the speed of thought, is not as quick as I am used to. However, it is a good fitness boost and it is far more motivating to work at a training session than by yourself.

The first team I have been involved with is called Thackley AFC. Thackley is just north of Bradford and about 8 miles from where I am staying. They are one division (I think it’s 9th overall) above the side I was playing with a little while ago: Albion Sports. So, it is an improvement in that sense. However, at the training sessions, not too many of the first team players come, since they often play twice a week. The sessions are thus typically filled with reserve/youth players and so they do lack a bit of quality. It is also difficult to judge the level of the first team from this point of view. However, the management staff have been friendly and have offered for me the opportunity to play some games. Once my paperwork goes through I look forward to be playing more competitively again – something I have sorely missed.

Dennyfield – Home of the Dennyboys (Thackley)

I also trained with a team in the same division as Albion Sports called Yorkshire Amateur. They are based in the north suburb of Leeds. One of my relatives works with someone at the club and kindly got me in touch with him. He has been generous enough to let me come out to training. It is a similar situation to Thackley’s training with many of the first team players too busy to come, so many youth/reserve players make up the numbers, which in turn lowers the quality.

Bracken Edge – Home of Yorkshire Amateur

Lastly, I was supposed to train with Guiseley AFC this week. The team down the road that I have watched and written about a few times. Their training session on Thursday evening; however, was called off. They ended up losing their FA Cup replay game to Barrow Town¬†on Tuesday and the manager decided to rest the team before the weekend game, after the tough loss. Fortunately, I intend to train with them this Thursday instead, so God willing something will come of that opportunity as well. From all the accounts I’ve heard they are a well respected, well run club that would be a great, albeit difficult, place to get my foot in the door.

I admit I have been to yet another Guiseley game. It was a cup game that they ended up winning 7-0 versus a lower division club, so it wasn’t much to write about. More of a slaughter-fest, although the visiting side did show some signs of a fight at first and could have made it interesting if they had scored one of their (few) early chances. Noteworthy; however, is the fact that it was after this game that I was finally able to speak with the manager and get invited to training (he must have just been very happy about his recent demolition job).

My tour of non-league football (considered 5th division and below) continued and broadened this weekend as I went to a game about an hour away at the home of FC Halifax Town. If you were only to visit the stadium you would assume they were higher than the 6th tier of football, but that is the nature of the promotion/relegation system over here; where you can drop or rise consecutive leagues in consecutive seasons as fast as the temperature in Loretto, PA, where I went to school.

FC Halifax Town, formerly Halifax Town AFC before entering administration in recent years, has a long history. They spent many decades in the football league, which partly answers the question of why they have a nice 13,000 capacity stadium. On the day, they handed the visitors, Droylsden FC, a solid 4-1 defeat. Although Droylsden are among the bottom dwellers, the “Shaymen” of FC Halifax made hard work of it and came into the half 0-0.

Droylsden tried to keep the ball, but didn’t have the quality to do it effectively. Despite some average spells of possession, they were relatively harmless all game. FC Halifax ground out 2 goals in the first 30 minutes of the 2nd half before Droylsden answered with their only goal off of a well rehearsed free kick play. While Droylsden pushed on for the equalizer, FC Halifax duly killed the game with 2 goals in the last 10 minutes. The crowd, numbering around 1300, was not afraid to show it’s disapproval at it’s own players and were probably the least forgiving crowd I’ve seen. Although, to be fair to them, it wasn’t a pretty spectacle for much of the game.

Here are some pictures of my visit to “The Shay”

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All these situations are good building blocks for me and I am sure they will be integral in helping me to the next step in the process for a couple of reasons. The most obvious benefit is fitness. At any training session, no matter what the level, you can be sure that there is one constant where fitness is involved: you get in what you put out. So, I always put in a good shift on that front. Also, it is a great chance to network and continue to learn about the sports environment I am in, which is very interesting and unique to anything we see in the US.

The more I get acquainted with English football, the more impressed I am with the sheer number of football grounds there are here. Even at the lower levels, like Thackley and Yorskshire, clubs have their own dedicated ground. Sometimes it’s not huge and barely has a stand, but it is still impressive and just goes to show how integral football is to the culture here. It is also interesting that many of the clubs here, small and large, have a long and storied history, often even from before the world wars.

Stay posted on the future developments of my Rome and keep on building yours, we’ll get there.

Build with your headfirst! Ok maybe that’s not a good idea

God Bless,

Seano

An Idiot Abroad

Yes, I stole the title from a TV show! Plagiarism at its best.

I’M JUST A STUDENT:

Alright, aside from learning how to not get on a soccer team, I have been broadening my horizons on a few other areas.

First of all, like I have explained before, I have read a number of books. I am going to list off the books I’ve read with a very brief summary.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird– Classic story about standing up to racism in the South. There are so many classic books that I haven’t read, but I mean too! This was a start.
  • Brideshead Revisited– I feel like I’ve been a criminal in some circles for not reading this. Thank God I will be welcome back into society now. Very good! (and I have one upped most of you on this now – see below).
  • The Road– A gripping story about a father and son travelling through a post apocalyptic world. Reading this story was like the tendency I have for not being able to take my eyes off something hideous (like the mirror). It was a very captivating, well written story and is worth a read if you are into this genre of book.
  • David of Jerusalem– Bible stories can be pretty epic – especially in the old testament- ¬†and this is a good example of that! It’s got everything, love, war, friendship, betrayal, human strength, and human weakness and the role and rule of God in it all. Even though you may know the basic story, this one is retold excellently.
  • I Am The Secret Footballer– an unnamed footballer tells about life playing professional football in England. Anytime anyone starts off telling you that they shouldn’t tell you something, but they are going too anyway, I’m immediately interested. Provides some interesting perspectives and some not so impressive tendencies of some professional athletes.
  • The Damned Utd – You can see my thoughts on this book here.
  • I started reading the Winnie the Pooh series, but it was a bit over my head, so instead I went back to a soccer book and am currently reading Fever Pitch – which is essentially a story about being a football fan. It looks like there is a “Fever Pitch” baseball movie too…you have been warned.

Please, if you want to know more about any of these or have any recommendations let me know.

Moving on, here is a small list of other things I have learned in England

  1. Tea = Dinner and Pudding = Desert. So, if someone asks you to stay for tea, make sure you have the time, and if someone asks you if you’d like some pudding the answer is always “yes, please”.
  2. It’s ridiculously hard to figure out bus schedules. I recommend asking, because your day will be over before you figure ¬†it out.
  3. In Yorkshire it doesn’t rain all the time as you might have heard, but you can be assured it will rain when you go outside.
  4. It makes sense with its geographical location, but there is significantly less daylight this time of year than at home. It already gets dark here around 4:30…or maybe that’s just the constant cloud covering. Sigh.
  5. Pounds are worth more than $$dollars$$ – I know it’s a “DUH”, but it easily slips the mind.
  6. On that note, the money lingo is confusing too: I say “It’s a couple of bucks”, they say “whose ducks?!”; they say “that’ll be 2 quid”, I say “no thanks, I don’t like squid”.
  7. The left side of the road thing isn’t a big deal since I’m not driving, but I have walked toward the wrong seat a few times. Also, I randomly panic when crossing the street unsure if I’m supposed to look left-right-left, or right-left-right, while the observer is wondering why the hell I’m gesturing “NO” so emphatically.
  8. “Poe-tay-toe, poe-taa-toe, it doesn’t matter, just eat the damn thing!”
  9. I’ve learned more, but I’m just to embarrassed to tell you how…

Shout out:

I must also thank my friend Steve Duran (are you happy now Steve!) for providing me with a load of talks on subjects of a more spiritual nature which help enrich my soul. Alleluia! Before you think too highly of him mom, he is just doing his job working for Lighthouse Catholic Media. Jokes aside, it’s much appreciated, thanks Stevie!

I’M JUST A TOURIST:

Like any good learning experiences, mine has included a few field trips as well, courtesy of my cousins the Inglehearns.

NRM – National Railway Museum

The first trip was to the NRM in York. Talk about getting up close and personal with trains! The NRM is the biggest train museum in the world. I didn’t have any particular inclination toward trains prior to this visit – probably because the only thing trains ever meant growing up was being stuck in my neighborhood – but it was pretty cool! I also have a new found respect for trains merely because I use them so much now.

The museum is essentially a couple of warehouses packed with everything train. This includes anything from the first steam train, to the high-speed trains found in Asia and everything in between (like snazzy royal carriages). It’s fascinating to see all of these impressive machines and learn a little about how they worked. It is also critical to understand just how important they were to Britain and the world. Oh and in case you ever come across it in a trivia game…

Q: _______ was to trains what Detroit was to cars?
A: Swindon. 
 

I still think the craziest train fact is that there is a train tunnel underneath the English channel¬†(and that’s not even the longest train tunnel). Talk about an excavating job! “Hey, Bob, your gonna need more than a pooper scooper for that!” Pretty awesome.

See the slideshow at the bottom for some of the pictures from the train museum.

Castle Howard

This massive 18th century English estate, in North Yorkshire, is still lived in by English nobility. The country house, if you could call it that, is home to Hon. Simon Howard, his wife and his two children. While the family still lives there in private, albeit large, quarters, the rest of the house and grounds is open to the public during the day.

The most striking thing about Castle Howard, aside from its beauty, was the sheer amount of wealth that it represented. Even today the art on display throughout the house alone is worth millions; not to mention the staggering collection of antique books. It is a living example of the upper echelons of the rigid class structure that was so prevalent in its time. Although the Howard family still lives there, the house is not sustainable merely as a home and has thus been commercialized since about the 1950s…much to the benefit of all.

Part of the commercialization of Castle Howard, aside from the tourist aspect, is it’s role in the classic TV series based off the novel Brideshead Revisited (see above) and in more recent times the¬†movie,¬†starring Emma Thompson. This was a stroke of genius by the Howard’s for a couple of reasons. The first, more obvious benefit, was that it gained incredible¬†notoriety¬†for its role as Brideshead mansion, which increased awareness and interest all over the world. Not so well known, however, is the fact that instead of charging the film producers to shoot at the location, the Howard’s told them that to do the series they had to repair the extensive damage done by a fire in the 1940s. Effectively, this helped the Howard’s avoid both the cost of the renovation and the cost of taxes on what would have been a fat paycheck.

Overall, it was a absolutely lovely place to visit! It was a gorgeous fall day with crisp autumn sunshine which added to the beauty. So, for all you Brideshead die-hard’s out there, I see you and I raise you!

Side note: In a past life, Chris Inglehearn used to give tours at Castle Howard, so we also had a personal tour guide with us. Many thanks to the Inglehearn’s for both trips!

Here are a load of pictures from both the NRM and Castle Howard. A couple of apologies here: my phone camera isn’t top notch, I didn’t get many pics from inside at Howard, and sorry I couldn’t split them into two slideshows ūüė¶

Enjoy!

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Till next time, use your head-first!

Cheers – I learned that too

Seano

Politics and Fandom

It is interesting to be over in Europe for an election. Definitely adds a different perspective. Without saying much about the results and how I feel about them, I wanted to try to make a connection between political fandom and football fandom.

I’m probably not the first person to say it, but being a fan of any sports team, typically entails despising another. In football, Liverpool and Manchester United love to hate¬†each other; ¬†while there is no love lost between Rangers and Celtic in Scotland, or AC Milan and Inter Milan of Italy…the list goes on. After seeing comments and reactions, before, during, and after the election, it was clear that there was similar feelings between some of the “fans” of political parties.

For sports this is great! It adds a level of competition and increases the spectacle of the game. However, even these sports¬†allegiances¬†are put aside when a more serious issue comes about. For instance, the whole soccer world stopped when Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the field last year and nearly died from heart failure. Even the bitter rivalry between neighbors Everton and Liverpool (clearly they don’t have many friends) was put aside to honor the integrity and memory of the Liverpool fans who lost their lives in a stadium disaster years ago. (see also)

Everton (blue) and Liverpool (Red) respecting the memory of the 96 victims who died in the Hillsborough stadium disaster.

The great thing about being a sports fan is that you don’t have to be rational. Of course most fans support their local team, which is understandable. Yet, I’ve heard some downright ridiculous reasons for supporting a team, “I liked their jerseys”, among them. To be honest, I have no idea why I am a Manchester United fan. I would tell you it was exposure at a young age through this video¬†of United goals (ok I fell in love with David Beckams hair). But is that really a rational reason? I’ve heard it said that “you don’t choose your team, it chooses you”. I’m glad Chelsea or Man City didn’t fancy me.

True fans follow their team through thick and thin; when they are losing, winning, or even just plain doing things all wrong on and off the field of play. This is why it’s very rare to convert a person to fandom, when they already have a team. There is no reasoning with a sports fan. The only ultimate truth in football is that the team that scores more wins. Yet, as seen above, even non-rational sports fans will put aside their irrational desires, passions, and allegiances when it becomes a matter of life and death.

On both sides of politics in the US, there seems to be too many “fans”. Unlike sports, however, politics is not something that we can take part in on Saturday or Sunday afternoons (aka whenever the games are), and then leave for the rest of the week. It effects us daily. We can’t be irrational about our support. Support shouldn’t be founded in hatred for something else. A large portion of political “fans” appear to be more worried about the destruction of one team rather than the construction of their own. Which becomes self destructive in it’s own way. In any case, we shouldn’t be a “fan” of a presidential nominee or his party, that’s like being a fan of a coach (Yes, I’m sure it’s been done).¬†We should be a “fan” of a just and free America – and prosperous wouldn’t hurt – because in the end, we all cheer for the same team: The USA.

There are some things that voters; however, can learn from sports fans. And I repeat from above, “even non-rational sports fans will put aside their irrational desires, passions, and allegiances when it becomes a matter of life and death.”

Let’s continue to hope and pray that the greatness and blessings that are the true American dream will continue on for the benefit of humankind.

Go head first! Go USA!!!

Peace,

Seano