Posts Tagged ‘ FC Barcelona ’

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.

Atlanta Blues

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Atlanta Blues

Brenda and Brandon from the Atlanta Blues joined me on the SoccerNomad podcast to talk about their group and Chelsea Football Club. We discussed the formation of the group, the visit by Paul Canovile last year, and memories of the club over the years.

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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.

Virtual Emotions, Wasted Time

Well, Doctor, it’s like this. I’ve been playing the Football Manager games for 20 years. Since the very first one, the one with the picture of an angry man on the box, came out I’ve spent hours and hours and hours of my life tinkering with make-believe football teams, playing with tactics, scouting and recruiting new players. When I think about what I could have achieved in my life, the languages I could have learned, the places I could have seen, it really does break my heart. At some point, I’m going to be on my death bed, surrounded by family members, gently ebbing away into the next plane of existence and all I’m going to be able to think about is the fact that I must have spent a cumulative total of six unbroken months playing a computer game.

Taken from Iain Macintosh’s work for the Guardian and the Blizzard.

Iain Macintosh really is the gold standard for this topic. He has taken his obsession with Football Manager and rolled it into his work, writing a book Football Manager Stole My Life and occasionally publishing articles for websites showing what he would do with team x to get them out of situation y (including what he would have instead of Moyes at Manchester United for the 13/14 season).

My experience has been with the EA Sports FIFA series, which has resulted in hours spent in front of a computer, regardless of physical, emotional and social demands. Late into the night, first thing in the morning; so many worn out controllers, worn out discs; virtual high and lows. Yes my life is sad and this is just one example.

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The EA Sports FIFA series has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. In talking about this with my brother, he reminded me that the first version we played was FIFA 95. When I moved back to Michigan, we used to play for hours in his dorm room with opponents trying to get to the “hot spot” to score a certain goal. To prevent this from occurring, the C button was used in order to foul the player.

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I can also recall playing FIFA 97 on the SEGA Genesis system. I seem to remember an outdoor and indoor version, which was a great idea. I took Manchester United to glory and this laid the groundwork for how I used the game. Stephen McKeown had familiar experiences, getting all the iterations, finding the sweet spots, playing against friends.

Once I got the game I would start playing on the easiest level to see how things worked. I looked for two things: how to score and how to tackle.  I would usually learn the game using a middling team from France or Germany, slowly figuring it out, unlocking achievements and setting the stage for the hardest level. At this point, I would always start with Manchester United. Success usually came quickly and I would then move on to another big club in a different league. Once I had mastered the game, I would challenge myself by taking lesser teams and trying to win with them.

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In the early years of the game, I developed a blitzkrieg mentality. For the 1998 version, I rented the game for Sony Playstation and played an entire Serie A season in one weekend as Juventus. Then the obsession moved to the N64. When the 1999 copy came out (featuring The Rockafeller Skank by Fatboy Slim), I played constantly and tried to win the European Cup with the Red Devils but could never beat Kyiv.

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FIFA 2000 saw the addition of Major League Soccer. Didn’t really care for the league at the time so didn’t use those teams. I did play a lot as Derby County. Why the Rams? Well in the early days of the interwebs, I could listen to Derby matches on the internet. They became my first “second” team, so this bled into my gameplay experience as well. This version of the FIFA series contained over 40 “classic” teams, so that gamers could play as retired football legends. Looking back at that, I don’t think I made enough time for this feature. FIFA 2000 had my favorite soundtrack, especially Stop the Rock by Apollo 440, although Sell Out by Reel Big Fish was a blemish on an otherwise fantastic soundscape.

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I switched to the PC version in 2001 and started buying the game every couple of years. Moby’s Body Rock was a highlight of FIFA 2001 and this game came at a time when I had more time on my hands. After a while I recreated the Manchester United team with horrible player rankings in an attempt to still be the Red Devils but handicapping myself. This approach had mixed results as the pseudo Reds weren’t nearly as successful as the real club.

2003

Starting in 2003 I would take an established team and sell off the best players and replace them with players of inferior ability. This took shape in the FC Barcelona as the Blaugrana won trophies with players that I had never heard of.  Finding players from around the world, I reshaped the Spanish giants and found success without Rivaldo and Luis Enrique and Ronaldinho. As a side note, this version had another solid soundtrack.

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In future versions, namely 2007 and 2009, I picked English League Two sides and worked on how quickly I could get them to the Premier League. This was quite time consuming as they played a 46 game schedule plus participated in three Cup competitions. I only got three straight promotions once but found this a great challenge, especially when I ran into Premier League teams in the cups.

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Notts County was my greatest example of this strategy. Picked as homage to the team that supplied the kit that would eventually become the iconic black and white stripes of Juventus, I took them from the fourth division to the top flight in just three seasons. Unfortunately I got relegated but bounced back and eventually qualified for Europe before accidently failing to renew my players contracts which resulted in a bare bones squad. Results dropped and I was eventually fired. On the soundtrack front I really enjoyed Chloroform by Belasco and New York Minute from Mobile on the 2007 version as well as Kids by MGMT from the 2009 copy. I have dabbled with 2013 and 2014 but since my son is constantly on the Xbox (a parenting discussion to be had at a later time) my opportunities are few and far between.

One aspect of the game that I explored was creating an alternate version of the game, a series of what ifs. For instance I created several leagues that didn’t exist in real life in an attempt for increased competition for myself and to see how these proposed leagues might work.

My first creation was the Commonwealth League, a fusion of the English and Scottish Premier Leagues.  Playing as Celtic I matched wits with eternal rivals Rangers and the rest of the English teams. I created the league along with custom Scottish Cups and European competitions. While the removal of the Old Firm would kill the Scottish League, it may be the only way for these two to ever be a factor in Europe ever again. The only problem with this exercise was that you had to re-create the league every season.

Next up was the Atlantic League. For a time there were discussions about creating a breakaway league for second and third tier European leagues, which would increase their revenues and levels of competition.  I had found success as Ajax and decided to see how I would do against teams from the proposed countries, drawing from Sweden, Denmark and Belgium. Found that Anderlecht and Brondby were quite strong, but my Ajax were victorious, although the absence of the Scottish teams may have cleared the way for triumph.

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Finally there was the European Super League. I expanded the, at the time, G-14, and added six teams—Valencia, Arsenal, Parma, who I had won several scudetti with, and several other teams I can’t remember. Here was my structure: two groups of ten, played everyone once and the top two from each group advanced to the semi finals. Due to the computer generation, the big teams rarely did well so it wasn’t dominated by Barca, Real, Bayern and the Milan teams. Juve and Porto did well and, due to my ability, I was able to keep Parma competitive. In terms of getting a minimum number of games for the super clubs, this option is attractive but my guess is that if this money spinning competition ever comes to fruition, it will be groups of four with an 8 to 16 team knockout. Did it for three or four seasons and reshuffled the groups every season to get new match ups.

Another aspect of the game I really enjoyed was creating kits for the various teams. Part of my budding #KitNerd-ness, I actually used the sash on a shirt for Ipswich Town long before its introduction into contemporary kit design. Inspired by the silver Juve kits produced by Lotto in the early 2000’s, I created one for Ajax, if for no other reason than it looked cool. And of course I designed an all black strip for United.

Gamescom: visitors play Fifa 14 on the Xbox One

Another FIFA obsessive Dylan Murphy talked about the hours playing the game and the pursuit of glory to determine how good you were worldwide. That never appealed to me. Mine was solely a pursuit of man versus machine. Plus, due to limited internet access, I never got into the live, online experience. I admit I am a little jealous when I hear about something that happened online between players and their epic online clashes, with the accompanying trash talk and virtual recognition, but I’m terrified of playing in any sort of public tournament. Don’t want the bubble of invulnerability to be punctured or to feel the sting of defeat. I’m a delicate flower.

Recently it appears that the game is impacting American fan culture, with recent statistics compiled by ESPN and EA Sports showing that 34% of EA Sports FIFA players became pro soccer fans after playing the video game and 50% of EA Sports FIFA players are more interested in pro soccer after playing the video game.

For me, it was just another way to engage the sport. With limited access before the days of high speed internet and multi-national TV contracts, I didn’t have to wait for magazines or newspapers or tape delayed highlights. I could live the dream every day, I could create a new reality. Hours upon hours were spent learning about new players, competing for trophies (imaginary as they were), and creating a new narrative while drawing from the past. I still play the PC version from time to time as a way to relax, although relax is probably not the right word as the desire for success has led to screaming, both triumphant and angry, and the occasional moment of property damage. No matter what happens, I return to the game.

Would love to hear how other people engaged the game. Post your successes, failures, favorite teams, favorite players, or favorite tweaks in the comments below.

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

FC Barcelona Home 2007/08

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In retrospect, the 2007/08 season was the transition from one era to another. Moving on from the European Double in 2006, the Blaugrana phased out old soldiers (van Bronckhorst, Giuly, Belletti and Thiago Motta) and brought in key players for the upcoming cycle of success (Henry, Yaya Toure, Abidal, Milito, and Pinto).

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After losing out to Real Madrid for the La Liga title the previous season on head to head results, Barca started the campaign strongly but too many draws and only four away wins saw the Blaugrana finish third behind Real Madrid and Villarreal. Glory was not to be found in the Copa del Ray either, as Valencia knocked FC Barcelona out in the Semis with a 4-2 aggregate win.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 29: Thierry Henry (R) of Barcelona controls the ball next to Pele of Inter Milan during the Gamper Trophy match between Barcelona and Inter Milan at the Nou Camp Stadium on August 29, 2007 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Thierry Henry;Pele

In Europe, Barca had a comfortable Group Stage and then faced Celtic in the Round of 16. A 3-2 win at Celtic Park saw them progress to the Quarters, where the Blaugrana secured a pair of 1-0 victories over Schalke. The result was a Semi-Final match up against Manchester United, resulting in a tense pair of matches, with Scholes’ worldy at Old Trafford being the difference for the eventual champs.

Trophyless, everything would change that summer as Pep Guardiola was named manager ahead of the 2008/09 season.

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(image courtesy of Colours of Football)

The home jersey for the 2007/08 campaign was straightforward, with thick blue and red vertical bands, very reminiscent of the shirt used in the 1980’s except without the collar. Together with blue shorts and hooped socks, this made for a stylish, traditional FCB kit. This was the second season of the club’s association with UNICEF, with the charity across the front of the shirt and a contribution made from the club.

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(image courtesy of FC Barcelona)

The highlight of the shirt was a circle of text noting the 50th anniversary of the Camp Nou. Opened in 1957 after three years of construction, it is the largest venue in Europe and has hosted games for the 1982 World Cup and 1992 Olympics and several European Cup Finals, including that magical night in 1999. (For more info on the venue, check out Chris Clements’ post at Estadios de Espana.)

I really like this shirt but rarely wear it. Partly because I don’t want to ruin it and partly because I don’t follow Barca as faithfully anymore. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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

Atlanta Supporter Groups

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I’ve been in Atlanta for over two years and have run into tons of passionate and knowledgeable soccer fans, many of whom have formed official and unofficial supporters groups for their favorite clubs. I started jotting down a list and was surprised how many teams were represented throughout the city. Below is what I’ve come up with so far. If I missed a group or got something wrong, let me know.

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English Premier League
Team Nickname Twitter Facebook Bar
Arsenal (Official) ATL Gooners @ATLGooners Facebook Brewhouse
Chelsea (Official) ATL Blues @ATLBlues  Facebook Righteous Room Brookhaven
Chelsea GA Blues @georgia_blues Facebook Ri Ra
Crystal Palace Crystal Palace ATL @CPFC_ATL Facebook Fado Midtown
Everton (Official) ATL Evertonians @atlevertonians Facebook Fado Buckhead
Leicester Atlanta Foxes @LCFCAtlanta Facebook Brewhouse
Liverpool (Official) LFC ATL @LFCAtlanta Facebook Meehans Downtown
Manchester City ATL Cityzens @MCATLCityzens Facebook Brewhouse
Man Utd (Official) ATL MUFC @atlmufc Facebook Fado Midtown
Man Utd (Unofficial) MUFC ATL (Brew Crew) @ManUtdScAtl  Facebook Brewhouse
Swansea Atlanta Jacks @Atlanta_Jacks Facebook Meehans Vinings
Tottenham (Official) ATL Spurs @ATLSpurs Facebook Meehans Atlantic Station
West Ham (Official) Atlanta Ironworks @IronsAtlanta Facebook Brewhouse
Europe
Team Nickname Twitter Facebook Bar
Bayern Munich (Official) Mia San ATL @miasanatl  Facebook Der Biergarten
FC Barcelona FC Barcelona Atlanta @barca_atl Facebook Fado Buckhead
Real Madrid (Official) Madridistas ATL @MadridistasATL Facebook Olde Blind Dog
South America
Supporter Group Twitter Facebook Bar
Corinthians Fiel Torcida USA @FielAtlanta Facebook
Atlanta United FC
Supporter Group Twitter Website
Footie Mob @FootieMob Website Midway
Resurgence @ResurgenceATL Website Brewhouse
Terminus Legion @TerminusLegion Website Fado Buckhead
Faction @TheFactionATL Website Fado Midtown
Atlanta Silverbacks
Supporter Group Twitter Facebook Bar
Westside 109 ATLWestside109 Facebook
Atlanta Ultras tlantaUltras Facebook
United States National Teams
Supporter Group Twitter Facebook Bar
America Outlaws ATL @atlantaoutlaws Facebook RiRa

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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.

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.