Football reigns supreme

Columnist Dave Thompson is currently traveling abroad and sends his ruminations on European sports ‘n’ things.

England is football mad about now and it is enlightening.

Rugby football is into its world cup and the Brits are among the favourites, but every paper and everywhere we go, including most TV channels that do current events of any kind, feature football (soccer as we know it) on the front of both sports and news sections/broadcasts.

It isn’t just the Premier League, either. The second-tier championship, the early stage Carling Cup and other levels of competition all get squeezed into pages/broadcasts mostly ahead of the rugby and well before any other sporting news.

We have been in Liverpool, where a loss by the big-boy Liverpool Reds to semi-lowly Stoke had people frowning for days, although the few who support the rival Blue (Everton) were slightly less unhappy about a point for a draw at home.

In the meantime, American pro sports, including the start of the NFL season, the U.S. Open, major league baseball and our incipient hockey extravaganza, lag behind even inter city cricket in terms of interest from journalists, and the public.

It is interesting for us first-timers how quickly the vernacular, “brilliant,” “you okay?” (for how are you?) and, “toilet,” enter your speech patterns.

It’s nothing less than amazing and heartening, how eagerly people assist you, be they Scousers or Geordies or whatever they call people from North Wales.

There have been some stresses and strains, the bulk of those relating to advice we received at home before leaving, and one Trail financial institution’s apparent indifference to the rectifiable (one hopes) problems.

But, overall it seems more than worth the long trip.

Britain is not as decrepit as some would have had us believe, and visiting sites such as the Aasiph cathedral that was built three centuries before modern Canada existed seems almost empowering.

The transit system, derided here, seems sublime to us so far.

We plan to tour both York and Durham today and still make it to Edinburgh – where I am told I will be able to score a, “football,” ticket for Saturday’s Hearts – St. Mirren Scottish Premier League game if I am quick off the mark in the morning (what are the odds of that?) – in time for dinner.

The hotels have been pretty decent and the weather, even with the late tropical storm winds, quite pleasant.

If you have been musing about coming here, work on it.

I have, of course, been extolling the virtues of our area to all encountered. They all seem impressed, and will likely soon move to or visit the Home of Champions (or musing about it).

Smokies and Hawks will start for real before we return, so keep on them about updating web sites and such (that works best if you are in the rink) and plan on updating me when we get back.