05/16/2005: Fierce Loyalties
Crying Foul In Manchester by Geoffrey Wheatcroft is about the fan protests against a real estate and investment magnate, Malcolm Glazer, who just purchased the Manchester United soccer club for $1.5 billion.
”… Outside Old Trafford, the team's stadium, fans carried banners reading "Not for $ale." One man pointed to the statue of Sir Matt Busby, the most famous manager of this most famous soccer club, who "will be turning in his grave tonight." Glazer must have been aware that his attentions were unwelcome, but he may not quite realize the importance of this team, a national institution as well as a flag-bearer for its city.
Although Manchester has never been on the tourist trail, it has a notable history. It was here, after all, that the first capitalist industrial revolution erupted, with Engels on hand to show it to his friend Marx. Under its self-confident burghers, the city gave its name to a species of political economy that conquered the world: the competitive free-market principles of the Manchester school.
A scarcely less important English contribution to humanity is team sports - above all, soccer. And here Manchester United occupies an honored spot. The club began life as a "works team" - with factory hands playing in their spare time - and then turned professional and went on to conquer every height….”
Puts me in mind of another story from the "Karen Files" of our MLS soccer coaches (and house guests) Jim and Peter:
Back in the 90’s, I was very involved (registrar, coaching, organizing) with the local soccer organization which all my daughters played with in River Forest. We also offered two-week summer soccer camps with MLS coaches, and became “host” families for these traveling soccer teachers.
One year we had two “guests.” Peter was a young man from English town called “Wallsend” for being located at the border of England and Scotland, so named for being literally on the End of Hadrian’s Wall. (Said “wall” was built by the Scots to keep invaders out – but as it’s only about two feet tall – they just stepped over it – the invasion is now history.) Peter had since become a part-time coach for children and professional firefighter and sent us a great picture of him in all his gear.
Jim was a Liver-puddlian (from Liverpool), had a broad undecipherable cockney accent, and a fierce Liverpool Football Club fan. You have to understand first and foremost how fiercely partisan and loyal fans are for their teams, but, as one British friend once told us – “In England you don’t “pick a team” to support – you’re born into a team.” Liverpool FC's arch rivals are Manchester United.
Well, Jim ended up staying beyond his two-weeks because he had planned to travel around to see parts of the US and being given a run around by the MLS folks for wishing to change his fight plans to do so.
So, during that next two weeks he continued as our guest and became an unofficial “mother’s helper” as I traded his room and board for light duties to run errands and pick up my kids from school and such. (Tho’ I did have to endure some jokingly funny remarks and raised eyebrows from some neighbors about my “twenty-something” “hot stud muffin house boy” – As if !!! - But it WAS funny.)
Well, we had an on-line service (but rarely used it much so early in WEB history there wasn’t much around and it was SOOO slow with dial up and nearly constant *busy* service). But we allowed Jim to use it to follow the his Liverpool FC team game results and keep in touch with his pals in England. Jim was very appreciative and spent an inordinate number of hours happily surfing and e-mailing for the next two weeks on-line.
But – we had forgotten that our dial-up access numbers were all “outside” our area and were therefore toll-calls. Two-weeks and $350 later with additional phone charges…we realized this slight error. Jim was aghast…but these kids got the barest minimum of payment from MLS that hardly covered even their needs while staying in the US – thus the “hosting” duties offset these deficiencies of their pay. He couldn’t really afford to pay us back and was so broke we had to give him money at the airport for necessities of his travel plans.
As a thank you, he later followed up with a Liverpool FC Scarf and both a “You’ll Never Walk Alone” pin and Liverpool FC pin. We still trade Christmas card with both Peter and Jim and are *promised* a return tour of Liverpool and Northern England if we ever get to visit the British Isle. And of course we treasure our Liverpool keepsake - tho’ I have to fight Charlie as to who gets to wear it on cold days. LOL
Karen on 05.16.05 @ 06:20 AM CST