Squeaky Bum Time

Sometimes it can be hard to remember how time zones relate to one another. Is it 5 or 6 hours ahead, or behind? What part of the country are you in…East? West? Then, of course, there are other things to remember, like the fact that daylight savings is at different times in different countries, so sometimes the zones are less or more hours apart? Sigh.

So, if you are wondering what time it is over here, the answer is squeaky bum time!

If that doesn’t help, let me give you a little background. You can not tell squeaky bum time on a watch, it defies the traditional use of timekeeping.

The phrase was coined by the esteemed Sir Alex Ferguson; 27 year manager of Manchester United – I know, let the bias creep in. According to Collin’s Dictionary online, it means  “the tense final matches (or minutes) in the race to a league championship (or any championship/achievement)”.

Squeaky Bum book

Another definition that I found elaborated even further, describing “Squeaky Bum Time” as the sound your bum makes shifting around on the edge of your seat during the most tense periods of a competition.

Frankly, I don’t care what you think about Manchester United, or Sir Alex Ferguson, the phrase is not only incredibly apt – not to mention, fun to say –  it is also something that most people can say they have experienced in some part of their life. I think it is safe to say that it is “squeaky bum” moments that really make the sporting world go round.

While the climax of “squeaky bum time” usually only lasts a few moments, the build-up can sometimes take weeks. The longer the build-up the squeakier the bums.

I am currently in the middle of a squeaky bum extravaganza. No, that is not my way of saying that I have really bad gas.

AT THE SOURCE:

To begin with, a few weeks ago, I was lucky to experience Squeaky Bum Time with Fergie himself, at the place that he calls home (well at least in footballing terms). I was offered the opportunity from a relative to go to another game at Old Trafford to see Manchester United take on Aston Villa. It was only after I jumped on the opportunity, that I realized that this game was a chance for Manchester United to mathematically claim their 20th Premier League title.

This time around; however, the tension was to a minimum. First of all, United was running away with the title and only needed to get a result in 1 of their next 5 games in order to win the title. Also, any concern that struggling Aston Villa was going to cause an upset was nipped in the bud when Robin Van Persie scored in the first 2 minutes of the game. He then put the game to bed with a hat-trick before the conclusion of the first half.

Compared to the epic conclusion of the Premier League last year, where United’s cross town rivals, Manchester City, won the title with mere minutes to go in the last game, this was, admittedly, less squeaky.

The consistency that United showed this year meant they won the title with emphatic confidence, rather than squeaky excitement. I am not saying that one way of winning is any less fulfilling than the other. I am sure the Euphoria is the same either way. However, on that Monday night against Aston Villa, the only squeaky bums in the last few minutes of the game, were those of the last few fans to jump up and join  in the celebrations.

To be at Old Trafford on the night United won a record setting 20th title is something that I will always remember. The highlight of the game was definitely the 2nd goal. I won’t explain it, I will just show you the video below. It was sublime!

One of my favorite memories of the celebrations was singing the Man United version of John Denver’s “Country Roads”: “United Road”. I could have stayed in the stands all night singing along with the players down on the pitch.

Van Persie’s 2nd Goal:

Here is the Song:

Also a few shots of my night at Old Trafford:

SQUEAKY BUMS AT GUISELEY:

Back at Guiseley, the Squeaky Bums have been so loud recently there have been reports of anxiety attacks and insomnia.

In personal news, I started my first league game so far this year. While the game meant little for the team in terms of final league positions, it was really only squeaky bum time for me; a chance to finally play significant minutes in a league game. In a way, it was like a 2nd job interview or audition.

I was excited for the opportunity to play. Unfortunately, squeaky bum time only ends one of two ways no matter how well you play. You win or you lose. In this case, we lost…to the team in very last place; Hinckley United. The only thing that could have probably made it worse, is if I had scored an own goal and then got sent off. It was a strange game. I, and no one on the team, played particularly poorly, but something was amiss. Also, credit to Hinckley who was up for it and played as though they had nothing to lose (which they didn’t). Sometimes life just gives you those days and the best thing to do is move on.

While I had my pout, as a club, we had bigger things on the horizon: Playoffs.

A playoff is the quintessential Squeaky Bum scenario. In this case, four teams from the league (Blue Square Conference North) make playoffs; 2nd place through 5th place. As 2nd seed, we drew the 5th place team; Halifax Town FC our Yorkshire rivals.

In the semi-final, you play two games; one home and one away. The team with the better record after two games will go through to the 1-game final. That is essentially 270 + minutes of Squeaky Bum football. The winner of the final earns the right to be promoted into the next division of football (Blue Square Conference Premier).

The 1st leg of our semi-final was away to Halifax Town and went relatively well. It ended in a 1-1 draw. We were under pressure for most of the game as they used the momentum of the home crowd to keep us pinned back in our half. They scored from a penalty kick early in the first half and gave us a few serious scares throughout, including one or two off of the woodwork. Fortunately, we weathered the storm and managed to score our own late in the 2nd half through a towering header from the ever trusty central defender Danny Ellis.

The remaining time was tense for both sides and but for a great reaction save from their goalkeeper from a Josh Wilson effort in the last minutes, we could have left town with all the spoils. In the end, we return home with all to play for at Nethermoor Park: home of the Lions.

Tomorrow (Sat the 6th of May) is the 2nd semi-final game, which is really just a final before the final because we have to win or there will be no final.

I know there are plenty of Guiseley fans who recommend me getting my head checked for supporting Manchester United. However, they would be happy to know that as I was singing and shouting after the game at Old Trafford, I couldn’t help but think to myself that the real celebrations will begin when Guiseley earn promotion.

As I said, the longer the build-up, the squeakier the bums. Guiseley has been to playoffs three years running, the bums don’t get much squeakier than that.

It doesn’t get much better.

WE ARE GUISELEY!!!!

Peace,

Seano

To note:

I would encourage you to follow the game tomorrow. Promotion is an equally cruel and exciting event and thus vastly entertaining! There will be a radio feed that I will try to get out to you before the game, but you can also follow Guiseley’s twitter, which will keep you up to date.

I would also like to thank all of you who helped me with the fundraising for my mission trip. You’re generosity is incredible. If you didn’t get a chance last time, I haven’t quite met my goals and it’s getting to be Squeaky Bum Time in that regard. So if you are so inclined, I could still use a few pennies here and there. Please visit Mission Trip Fund Page to help out 🙂 Thanks again!

Lastly, if you didn’t see it. I wrote a piece for the team website called A Mental Victory. I wrote it right after we beat the league Champions, Chester City, who have already earned promotion for finishing at the top of the league.

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