Sunday, September 25, 2005

E I E I O...

It's up the football league we go!!!!!

That was sung numerous times after yesterday's win up in Yorkshire against Rotherham United. It was my second away trip with the Blues, and it was another memorable one. The ground was actually pretty much located in a scrap metal railyard, and hence it was a pretty lousy place to watch a match. You also had to feel for the teams playing, as the actual playing surface had a slope to it, one goal being six feet higher than the other one, so one team had to play uphill each half! To complicate matters, somehow my name didn't make it onto the comp ticket list, so after a four-and-a-half hour bus trip, I got up there to find out I didn't have a ticket! Then when I went to buy one, they didn't accept credit cards! Thankfully I had $18 and they only cost $17 but that meant I had to bum change to be able to buy a matchday programme (I'm collecting them). The team won though and it was great to see them take their fifth win in a row, moving them up to second in the league! Let's hope the form continues.

Other than the away trip yesterday, things have been pretty quiet around here. I have just been working the past two weeks and that is going fine. I get along well with everyone in the department, and Brian Dear, the guy who took me to the West Ham match, invited me over to his house for dinner last week. That was very nice as my dinner is usually hit or miss, but this was a nice home-cooked meal with plenty of vegetables, and lots of broccoli! I can't remember if mentioned in a previous post, but the guy I normally work with, Ross, is going to be leaving the club on October 29 to take a position at Arsenal, which will likely mean more responsibility for me. Nothing I can't handle though I'm sure!

On the home front, I've been starting to put together ideas for my sightseeing when Michelle arrives on December 20. We will of course see Southend play MK Dons on December 26, Ross has offered to provide us tickets to see Arsenal play Portsmouth on December 28 at Highbury, and I'm looking into getting tickets to see Rangers play Dundee United at the Ibrox on New Year's Eve. They say that Scotland is the place to be on New Year's so here's hoping I get to find out! We also have a long list of other things that we'd like to see as well (Cambridge, Abbey Road, British Museum, etc.), so I hope I get those all in.

Now here's a photo diary of the trip to Rotherham...

A view from my seat in the Railway End.

Wayne Gray scores a penalty kick to make it 4-2.

This was right outside the ground, literally outside the gate.

Nice neighbourhood, eh? I didn't see any 'patrols'.

Until next time...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

For your listening pleasure...

Southend United is the first English football club to officially have a weekly podcast! Running at about 10 minutes and providing a new cast every week, the clip features commentary and quotes from manager Steve Tilson and BBC Radio commentator Nick Alliker. It plays like a radio show and runs as an MP3 file. To listen to it, just copy and paste the link below into your browser and enjoy!

Also, as this is a new service, we're very interested in feedback from people who have listened to it so please leave your thoughts in the comment area. Thanks!


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

It's Not Every Day...

ok, I couldn't resist. I got to go see a Premier League match last night with a former player for the team who is still treated like royalty. Needless to say it was a night to remember.

This is a picture of me standing on the pitch (or the field) about an hour before kickoff. There were already a couple hundred people filtering into the stands at this point so it was weird being the only person out there but amazing!

Here I am with one of the greatest strikers in Europe, Milan Baros. He was voted greatest player at the Euro 2004 tournament, where all the nations of Europe compete in a World-Cup-style setting. He plays for the Czech Republic.

This is the man himself, the voice of FIFA soccer that Failor and I have played all these years. It was so weird to be meeting him and hearing that voice that you recognize right away. "He picked his pocket like the artful dodger!" Hopefully he didn't notice my tie!

The match was incredibly exciting and the home team won 4-0. Great time had by all, especially me.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Hi-yah, you alroit?

(This is a photo taken of the stadium I visited when Southend played Swindon)

This weekend I had my first away trip as I took a three hour bus ride to watch the team play against Swindon Town. It was a great experience as I got to see more of the country (a detour through London on the way home took me past: Parliament, The London Eye, Scotland Yard, King's College, the Millenium Dome, The Tower of London, London Bridge and even James Bond's headquarters!). I also got to see a new stadium (The County Ground) and see Southend win the match 2-1. The atmosphere from the visiting Southend fans was incredible and it was well worth the trip.

Several people have asked about some of the differences that I have noticed since I've been here. Honestly one of the most difficult ones was the line at the top of this, since I didn't know how to answer if I was alright or if I just don't say anything. I think I'm getting the handle on it now, though. Obviously the money is different, but not hard to figure out. The one that most people think of first is driving on the other side of the road, but since I don't have a car I don't deal with it too often, just looking the other way first, and you'd be surprised at how you don't even realize you're doing it. The food isn't much different than what I was used to in the US, but the breakfast is better. Since I'm staying at a guesthouse, every morning I have bacon (which is almost more like ham but tastes like bacon), fried eggs, toast and hash browns. Then I typically have like a sub sandwich for lunch. So nothing very striking on the food department. Soccer is certainly the unofficial national religion, but it has been great to be here during the Ashes Test of cricket as well, as the country really has gotten behind the English cricket team in their campaign against the Aussies.

Now that I have gotten settled in and there is less breaking news to report, I will probably be cutting back how often I write updates, to more like one every two weeks or so. So long until next time!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

No Actually I'm English...

(this is a photo of me in my team's home jersey, sorry that its blurry)

So my first real week is in the bag over here in lovely Southend. I say lovely because, touch wood (that's what they say here instead of 'knock'), it still hasn't rained in the past 10 days. It's been sunny and 80 with a nice breeze off the water every day. Can't beat that!

I started off the week with the local derby against Colchester, and then started off my work week on Tuesday. I got a full tour of the stadium, complete with all of the behind-the-scenes stuff like the dressing rooms, the treatment room and the manager's office. Then on Wednesday I was taken over to the training ground and introduced to all of the players. Some of them were rather formal but most of them were very pleasant and a few even stopped to talk with me for a few minutes about my experience so far and my position with the club! It's pretty surreal to actually be rubbing elbows with players who I've been following and hearing about for months.

The people that I work with on a daily basis are very nice and have been very accomodating, since I had to learn how to do pretty much everything, even using the phone. My orientation is pretty much over and they're going to start piling on the work pretty soon, I'm sure. One assignment that I already have is writing the weekly email newsletter for next week. It goes out to over 5,000 emails and it contains about 5 articles, all of which I have to write! Not that I'm intimidated or anything.

Tomorrow, the team have a match vs. Oldham Athletic, and I will be hosting the executive's lounge, then watching the match from the press box. Can't complain about that much!

In other news, I'm all moved into my permanent room at the Waverley Guest House and its nice to finally feel settled. The folks that own the place are very nice, and how can I complain about getting clean towels every day, someone to make my bed and someone to cook my breakfast for me? Seems a sweet deal to me!

More to come next week...