Posts Tagged ‘ EPL ’

Walking Through the Storm, Ken Kendra

Walking Through The Storm: Watching the 2015-16 Liverpool Football Club season at the North American pubs their clubs call home

Ken Kendra is the founder of Raleigh Reds, the Official Liverpool Supporters Club in Raleigh, NC and traveled around the States during the 2015/16 season to follow the Reds, meet fellow fans and write a book. The result is Walking Through the Storm.

The book is several things: a series of match recaps, an assembly of memories and stories, and a look into the life of a fan and supporter group organizer. Liverpool’s season was not boring with a managerial change, frustrating results and two cup finals. The account of the second leg against Borussia Dortmund is quite good which feeds into the trips down memory lane for both the author and the fans he meets along the way. From the most recent fan to the lifelong supporter, everyone has a story to tell. Finally, the Official Liverpool Supporter Group (OLSC) covers the entire US and the book gives insights into not only match days around the country and the fellowship created by gathering to watch games week after week but also into local drinking laws and how to start a local chapter.

The book is an easy read and a must read if you a Liverpool fan, especially in America. If you’re not a Liverpool fan, still worth the read as Ken recaps the season and recounts stories that every fan can relate to.

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For more book review, check out my Recommended Reading page.

ATL Gooners

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SoccerNomad podcast: ATL Gooners

Some of the Atlanta Gooners came on the SoccerNomad podcast to talk about the Supporters Group and the club. From the 2016 Summer Tour to Highbury to the classic Manchester United/Arsenal games of the late 90s/early 2000s to kits, we covered a lot of ground and had a great conversation.

Find out more about the group on their various platforms:

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Learn more about Arsenal Football Club from the following resources:

Books

  • Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
  • Invincible by Amy Lawrence
  • Addicted by Tony Adams

Blogs

SoccerNomad Blog posts on Arsenal

Arsenal America Supporter Groups

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Thanks for listening! You can also subscribe via iTunes and please leave a rating and review. Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

An American’s Guide to Soccer in England

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An American’s Guide to Soccer in England

English groundhopper Paul Gerald came back on the SoccerNomad podcast to recap his latest trip to the UK. Paul hit Watford, Tottenham, West Ham, Bristol and others as he gathers material for his upcoming book, An American’s Guide to Soccer in England. Paul provided some great insight and tips for fans interesting in going to matches. He plans to have his book out in the summer of 2017, so keep an eye out for it. In the meantime, check out his blog English Soccer Guide and follow him on twitter @authorpaulg.

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Thanks for listening! You can also subscribe via iTunes and please leave a rating and review. Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

SoccerNomad Podcast: EPL 16/17 Kit Preview

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EPL 16/17 Kit Preview

JR Francis (@paynomind) returned to the SoccerNomad podcast to look at the kits for the upcoming EPL season. After we both rant about the Manchester teams, we gave comments on the rest of the league and picked our top 5. Plus there’s some news and notes on the manufacturers.

Resources

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Thanks for listening! You can also subscribe via iTunes and please leave a rating and review. Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

Personal Kit Collection 2016

Inspired by a series of tweets late 2012, I took stock of my kit inventory and put together a post documenting my personal kit collection at the time. As you can see my collection was all over the place in terms of teams, manufacturer and style. Since then, I have had a couple of realizations (read: interventions) and talks with myself. Combine that with a big move and my collection is now under 30 jerseys. I have probably owned over 50 shirts through the years but things happen. My collection pales in comparison with others, especially JR Francis, as we discussed on one of his appearances on the SoccerNomad podcast, but I love collecting and talking about kits.

Manchester United

Home

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Away

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US National Team

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National Teams

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FC Barcelona

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Juventus

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Atlanta Silverbacks

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My current plan is to follow my self-created rules.

  • Since I’ve narrowed my focus to just following Manchester United at club level (and Atlanta United when they take the field in 2017), only buying a shirt every three years or ones that match my tastes. I’m currently back filling my Manchester United collection.
  • In terms of national team kits, only buying ones of the United States Men’s National Team. Why? Because I’m American, if only by an accident of birthplace. (Of course, thanks to Nike, this policy has been a real problem as they keep designing crap shirts.)
  • Only buying personalized jerseys (printed with JUNIOR 7) and not buying “hero jerseys”.
  • Only buying shirts on sale (promotional or otherwise) or wait until the release of the following set of kits.

Since I put these into effect a couple of years ago, I have done quite well, only breaking the rules once, and that was to get an authentic Holland Away jersey from Euro 2012. It was 50% off at Classic Football Shirts and I couldn’t pass it up. However I’m close to breaking several of the above rules for the new Croatia Euro 2016 away shirt.

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For all the posts on kits that I have owned, own currently or want to own, please visit the Strip Club page of the SoccerNomad blog.

Here are some good resources, especially if you’re looking for vintage or retro shirts:

Feel free to share your faves/collections or great sites for shirts in the comments below.

Top Five Matches

I came across a post on reddit asking Which five matches changed your life?Loved the question and after thinking about it for a bit, here’s what I came up with:

1996       England v Germany Euro 96

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This game created the template for watching soccer while working. ESPN picked up the rights to this tournament and I fell in love with Croatia, saw Gazza’s wonder goal against Scotland, and the Czech Republic’s heartbreak in the Final against Germany. In the previous round, England played Germany in a rematch of the 1990 World Cup Semi. I was working as a summer intern at the FBI and snuck up to a conference room to watch the second half and penalties. England were so close but after 11 perfect spot kicks, Southgate’s miss condemned the Three Lions to defeat.

1999       Bayern Munich v Manchester United   Champions League Final

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As my love for the Red Devils continued to grow, the Treble season reached its dramatic conclusion in Barcelona. With no Keane or Scholes, United was up against it and when Basler scored in the opening minutes, I didn’t believe. Negative by nature I just waited for Bayern to seal the game and accept defeat. But when Sheringham poked home from close range I screamed with excitement. And when Solskjaer put the ball in the Germans net, I ran around the house in sheer joy.

2002       USA v Portugal   World Cup 2002 Group Stage

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In the days leading up to the game, I had a dream that the US crushed Portugal like 6-0 but I had missed it by sleeping in. Due to the time difference, the game kicked off at 4am ET. On the morning of the game, I drove frantically to a friend’s house who was hosting people. After the early US blitz I thought maybe I had had some sort of premonition but alas, Portugal fought back and made for a nervous last couple of minutes. That tournament was amazing and I got up at all hours to watch the matches.

2009       Real Madrid v FC Barcelona     La Liga

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In the late 90s and early 2000s I start following FC Barcelona and watched a dramatic 2006 Champions League Final against Arsenal. In the years following, that magic team was broken up and rebuilt and taken over by Pep Guardiola who drove the Blaugrana to an unprecedented, at the time, Treble. Real Madrid hunted Barca down in the league and set up a crucial meeting at the Bernabeu, and when Los Merengues scored first, a sick feeling came over me. And then magic happened with Henry and Messi tearing apart the hosts, each scoring twice, and also getting goals from Puyol and Piqué. It was breathtaking and set the stage for Iniesta’s moment of magic at Stamford Bridge and an amazing finish to the season.

2012       Manchester City v QPR     English Premier  League

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The dramatic end to the 1988-89 season was before my time, so when United came back from 0-1 against Spurs in the final league game of 1999 to clinch the title, I didn’t think it could get much better than that. I was wrong. A bunch of fellow fans gathered at Buffalo Wild Wings for Fox’s Survival Sunday, with all ten games on an array of channels. With fans from several different teams present, cheers and groans were constant depending on the action. Eventually we started calling out the TV numbers to keep track of the events. United secured victory at Sunderland and with City down 1-2 against QPR, another league title looked secure. But the fickle finger of fate intervened and Dzeko equalized, setting up Aguero’s moment of glory. Stunned I drank several shots as I watched the celebrations at Etihad. Gutted by the result, it was still one of the greatest soccer community events I have ever experienced.

Let me know what games impacted your soccer support in the comments below.

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Check out more posts on my trips, research and memories on the MatchDay Memories page.

Manchester United Away 2003-05

 

LONDON - MAY 1: Ryan Giggs of Manchester United in action during the Barclays Premiership match between Charlton Athletic and Manchester United at The Valley on May 1, 2005 in London. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

(picture courtesy of Metro)

Ahead of the 2003/04 season I was lucky enough to attend some of Manchester United’s preseason tour in the United States. Seeing some of my favorite players (Solskjaer, Giggs, Keane, and van Nistelrooy) and future greats (Fletcher and Rio) was fantastic. However, no Becks, which equaled #sadface.

The 03/04 and 04/05 seasons were part of the transition from Fergie’s second United team marked by the Treble to the third version which culminated with three straight Premier League titles from 2007 to 2009 and a European Cup in 2008.

Entering the 03/04 season, the defending Premier League champions said goodbye to Beckham, Veron and Barthez and the following season moved on Butt, Chadwick and Forlan. In their place came a new crop of players: Bellion, Djemba-Djemba, Howard, Kléberson, Cristiano Ronaldo, Dong Fangzhuo, Alan Smith, Saha, Heinze, Pique, Rossi and Rooney. While Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney would become club icons and Gabriel Heinze would be a good servant, most of this group would be plagued by injuries, poor form and a lack of quality.

Thinking back on the season 03/04 all I could remember was that Arsenal were invincible and Tim Howard made a critical error in the Champions League. Upon further review, United led the league for the first half of the campaign before a wobble handed the momentum to the Gunners, who ran out league winners in similar fashion to the finish of the 1998 season.

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(picture courtesy of Soccer Bible)

The following season saw a slow start from the Reds but the squad picked up points and momentum during the middle third of the season, getting all the way to second in the table. Back to back losses in April ended their challenge and United finished third.

The Reds won the 2004 FA Cup Final, stopping Arsenal from winning the Double with a win in the Semi-Finals. The victory over Millwall was their 11th title, the most in the country at the time. Turns out it was their last as they lost the 2005 Final to Arsenal on penalties and have only had a couple of Semi-Final appearances since then.

In Europe, Fergie’s men lost out to eventual champions Porto in 2004 after a disallowed goal and a mistake from American goalkeeper Tim Howard. The following season AC Milan knocked out the Reds in the Round of 16.

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(image courtesy of Historical Kits)

United returned to the black strip last used in 98/99. The strip was marked by a couple of design elements: a geometric pattern and a distinctive collar. As the Pride of Manchester Website notes, A ‘watermarked’ flower pattern adds a nice touch to the jersey, but to me it only looked like a bunch of interlocking throwing stars. The pattern was not really visible during the match so no biggie. The collar saw a rounded elastic band around the neck which was squared off at the throat area. In theory I liked this design but it never quite fit right on my neck, with one side flopping around.

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I received this shirt as a gift from the Haslett High School Girls Varsity team. Knowing of my love of United, the ladies presented it to me at a post season banquet as a mark of appreciation. While I think this is the best designed of the United black kits, the shirt I received had several issues. For one it was too big. I’m a large at best and the shirt was an XL which meant it hung on me like a muumuu. And two, Beckham was on the back but unfortunately he wasn’t on the team anymore, he didn’t wear this particular shirt, the name and numbers were stitched on instead of being heat pressed, and the number used was 23, his new number at Real Madrid. As a result I don’t wear it that much and am keeping my eye out for a better fitting version.

Following sources were used in this post:

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Read the rest of my Strip Club posts here and follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

Top Ten Posts of 2015

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2015 was another great year for the SoccerNomad blog.  Visitors from all over the world read about kits, memories and more.  Here are the ten most read posts from 2015. Thanks to everyone for visiting, sharing and commenting on the blog and it’s on to 2016.

10   Nigeria Home 2002-2004

9     Summer 2015–Chattanooga FC v Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves

8     MatchDay Memory–History of ATL Soccer

7     EPL Kit Preview 15/16

6     Solutions

5     Strip Club–Half and Half Edition (FC Barcelona Home 97/98)

4     Not Inverting the Pyramid

3     A Call to Action

2     Summer 2015–NPSL Final

1     Atlanta United Supporter Experience

 

Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974 and don’t forget to listen to the SoccerNomad podcast or subscribe via iTunes.

Sunderland AFC Away 2000/01

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Sunderland entered my soccer consciousness during the 1999/2000 campaign as Kevin Phillips fired in 30 goals in his partnership with Niall Quinn, and I remember watching Don Hutchison and Stefan Schwarz in the red and white stripes.

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Promoted from the Championship as Champions at the end of the 1998/99 season, the Black Cats finished in seventh place in the Premier League and matched that finish the next season. A slow start (four from the first 15 available) had Sunderland in trouble in the 2000/01 season, but a strong run had the squad on 39 points after the holiday program. However, the team couldn’t keep the momentum and only won four of their last 16 matches to finish on 57 points. The club provided fans with two decent cup runs as well that season, reaching the 5th Rounds of both the League Cup and the FA Cup.

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Unfortunately the 2000/01 campaign was the height of success for Sunderland AFC. From these heights the Black Cats fell, barely avoiding relegation the following season before finally slipping out in 2002/03.

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The club switched from Asics to Nike ahead of the season and their first away kit was a real classic. All white strips appeal to me and Nike did a great job with this one, using red to accent the collar, sleeves, shorts and socks. The sponsor logo isn’t too gaudy and I love the team’s crest. In researching this kit, I realized that is the same template as one of all time favorite shirts—the Arsenal third shirt from 2000-2002.

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Further notes from the official club website

Away shirt as worn by the side as they followed up an impressive seventh place finish with a relegation battle in ’02 which they eventually won

It not only looked good, it felt good too, with lightweight fabric and breathable mesh panels made of Nike’s hi-tech Dri-Fit material designed for optimum comfort and performance.

Probably will never buy it but one of the better looking kits of the Premier League era.

Favorite Manchester United XI

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Started following the Reds just after they won the first Premier League in 1993 but really fell in love with the club during the 1995/96 season, in which the Red Devils hunted down Newcastle United to win back the Premier League and secured their second Domestic Double in three years when Cantona stunned Liverpool at the death in FA Cup Final.

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Almost 20 years on, United has provided a lot of highs and very few lows. The club has also produced many great players, so here is my favorite (that word will be key) XI over the last 20 years:

GK      Peter Schmeichel

The Great Dane was crazy in such a good way. Fondest memory will always be the save against Bergkamp.

LB       Denis Irwin

Such a loyal servant for the club, who had nerves of steel from twelve yards. He finished off one of Cantona’s passing gems as well.

CB      Nemanja Vidić

Hard as effin’ nails. Great defender, great bargain.

CB      Steve Bruce

A ball playing center back to balance the hard tackling pair of Vidic. Didn’t get to see the two goals live against Sheffield Wednesday but get goosebumps every time I watch it.

RB      Gary Neville

Watching the improvement in the player was a joy. Passion and commitment to the club never questioned.

LM       Ryan Giggs

Evolved from flying winger to measured leader on the field. Obviously the goal in the FA Cup Final will forever live in the memory.

CM      Roy Keane

Every team needs a Keano—driven, unrelenting, demanding. Who cares what he says/does these days. Just remember those tackles and goals and that moment in the tunnel.

CM      Paul Scholes

All of those goals, all of those passes. Wonderful player that I am only now beginning to appreciate.

RM      David Beckham

My idol as I feel in love with soccer and the club. Every once in a while I hit a cross of this quality and simply can’t believe he can do it every time.

FW      Eric Cantona

Didn’t see nearly enough of him. I watch every video I can because of his aura. The King of the contemporary United.

Second forward was my toughest choice. Do I go with Ruud or the baby faced assassin? Ruud scored so many goals in a red shirt, but I loved Ole and his goal secured one of the greatest sporting memories of my life so . . .

FW Ole Gunnar Solskjær

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No CR7 in my starting lineup. Heresy I’m sure many of you are saying, but remember I said favorite and while I loved watching CR7 play and appreciate everything he did for the club, Becks was one my favorite players of all time. As one my recent blog posts noted:

I’ve tried to pattern my game on his—solid delivery on set pieces, whipping in crosses into dangerous areas, not playing the greatest defense, and varying my hairstyle from time to time.

My subs bench would be as follows:

GK      Can you even choose between Van de Sar and De Gea? Amazing keepers both of them.

CB      Japp Stam

A wonderful defender in the short time at the club. Should have never left.

MF      Andrei Kanchelskis

For newer fans, make sure you him look up on youtube. Direct soccer is an understatement for the way he played.

MF      Darren Fletcher

I was really critical of him at times but really admired his work ethic and his longevity at the club.

FW      Ruud van Nistelrooy

What a goal scorer. Proved Ferguson’s belief in him again and again.

MF/FW Cristiano Ronaldo

A player made for Manchester United. Style, power, ability, desire. Gave his all as a red and moved on.

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Manchester United Football Club is filled with legends and I continue to learn about players such as Billy Meredith, Jack Rowley, the Busby Babes, the Holy Trinity of Best, Law and Charlton, Bryan Robson and more. Would love to hear your thought on my XI and your most cherished Reds. Comment below or hit me up on twitter @austinlong1974. Glory Glory Man Utd!!