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My First 365 Days as a Follower of Premier League Soccer

harry cee and wife My First 365 Days as a Follower of Premier League Soccer

It’s been a year since I showed my friends a Messi shirt I had bought in Istanbul that put me on this path to something I didn’t think could be so enjoyable.

In such a short time, I have gone to at least 6 matches (which is more than I would ever gone to any NFL match in the last 3 years), checked out a bunch of FIFA based games, joined a fantasy league and even took up writing for this blog!

I have learned so much in such a little time with a lot more to learn but I think the biggest aspect of my growing love for soccer isn’t so much in watching the game but the camaraderie that really comes out of people who love this sport. I said a while back that soccer fandom in my eyes is a very different creature than how fandom is approached in other sports played in the US.  When I wore a kit, jacket or a scarf, I cannot count how many times people will give a head nod or just start a conversation. By having a random conversation on the subway, I found a group of friends that gets together on game days to watch the games!

As many times as I have worn a football or basketball jersey, I could barely get a head nod unless my particular team had a big game or a matchup with the locals here. But, I am guessing the same happens in the home countries where these soccer teams are based.

But for some reason, if I run across someone with a Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Chelsea, Barcelona or any of a number of kits I have seen here in the DC area, if no conversation is struck there is an almost unseen glance and smile like we are giddy in knowing that there are other fans here that are far away from the teams we support and regardless of our side, happy that someone else is into it.

A part of me through watching this season still kind of feels like I missed so much and wondering how did I go without it before. But at this point of time, there was no better time to join in all the fun. This is a sport that can pull people from all creeds together. A sport that is not hard to learn and a sport that has more twists and turns. And so far, that is why I like it.

Of course, no sport is safe from its fair share of controversy. In this season, I read about the disaster in Egypt that marred the nation, the tragic death of Gary Speed, and Mario Balotelli’s drama that reminded me so much of Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. Plus the race issue of Patrice Evra versus Luis Suarez as well as John Terry vs Anton Ferdinand, and how one ugly aspect of human nature still lurks on and off the pitch. I was a bit shocked to learn that some punishments for some actions could be dealt with in more severe ways that I have ever seen here in the US even with fans that get out of control. Also, I have seen that soccer has not escaped being the bane of bad officiating and here is to hoping that replay technology won’t ruin the sport in ways that is has the NFL.

The only thing I have yet to do however is convert some of my friends. But it’s coming. I had a chance during the basketball strike. At least two of my friends got on board but complained about the early game times. Throughout all of this, at least those that won’t watch games support me and send me good information on news and events that I can use.

If I can point out three highlights of my first year of being into this sport, they would be:

harry cee usmnt 600x208 My First 365 Days as a Follower of Premier League Soccer

1. Going to the CONCACAF Tournament. This is where I watched the US men’s national soccer team (USMNT) and learned first hand how rowdy and energetic a soccer crowd could be. This was also my very first match I went to.

2. Going to the Manchester United vs Barcelona game last summer. I lived near FedEx field for about 6 years and I can tell you, never was there an event at the stadium where there were more people trying to buy a ticket to get inside instead of scalping them. It was also great to see Rooney, Nani, Iniesta and Xavi up close!

manchester united ball My First 365 Days as a Follower of Premier League Soccer3. Getting an autographed Manchester United ball on eBay for just $70. To my pleasant surprise, I found out that with all the autographs on it, I could probably sell it for ten times as much. But no, it’s staying put on the shelf!  But better yet is meeting my wonderful friends Anton, Natasha and Amrith (he is also a newbie) and doing our best to hang out on game days in various pubs in DC to watch the game!

This year, my wife and I got tickets to go see the USMNT against Brazil in May. Prior to that we are hosting an end of season BBQ close to May 13 to watch the last few games and hopefully see Manchester United win their 20th title.  Further out, I am eyeing the Chelsea v AC Milan game at the end of July and if that doesn’t pan out, we are hitting the road for an hour long journey to go see Liverpool against Tottenham.

Sure, some of you may think that they wouldn’t go to these games because your particular team isn’t playing, but why deny yourself a good chance to see something live that you may see only once here in the States? You can’t deny the competition and camaraderie that can be had at these games. We cheer for our favorites, jeer for the hated and talk smack to each other, but to me there is a bigger joy in watching a game that millions across the globe enjoy.

As I wrap this up, a thank you has to go out to Anton, Nastasha and the rest of the merry little band for making me have a reason to get up extra early to watch the game, Eric and David for sucking me in; not a week goes by without them teaching me something new! My wife who, although she is fighting the urge to watch, puts up with my love for the game. And, yes, The Gaffer, to you for running this site that I stumbled on last summer.

If anyone plans on coming this way for any of the summer games, let’s try to make an effort to meet! Follow me on Twitter @dreddeddeuce.

This entry was posted in Leagues: EPL, Manchester United. Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to My First 365 Days as a Follower of Premier League Soccer

  1. Neil says:

    What a shock, another new EPL supporter – another United fan. Cheers for getting into the sport though.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Supporters of other clubs are more than welcome to write their own stories about how they became a fan of their Premier League club. More info is at http://epltalk.com/get-published

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

    • Nonsense says:

      Hey Neil – why ruin the man’s story with your United BS. This man Harry Cee actually contributes to the site, shares his stories and pictures and your smart remark is all you have to offer? Gaffer it’s difficult for Neil to report on his Sunday league war stories.

      Thanks for the story and pics Harry.

      • Fog says:

        I didn’t read anything negative in Neil’s response. I can understand his sentiments…many new fans to any sport tend to link up with successful teams…and those that have been around awhile, or that have other reasons, such as a local team, family tradition or a friendly rivalry with a good friend, tend to select other teams to support. I support MANU for that reason in the EPL, but in baseball I support the Chicago Cubs…not your everyday plastic glory hunter.

        At the same time, I also support any European side that has an American playing for it. That’s what is great about not growing up with my colors decided by family tradition…I can casually support whomever I want for whatever reason…players, kit color, grounds, etc.

        I love the passion of soccer/football/fútbol), and I too enjoy the occasional (or not so occasional) jab at others…

        • Nonsense says:

          That would be my point, Harry has no local loyalty to any team in the EPL (Harry from what I’ve read you’re from the states, right?). He can choose to support WHOMEVER he pleases to. He also supports his local (I’m assuming) DC United and our National team.

          So the negative in Neil’s response is the little jab he takes at supporting MAN UNITED. You have to love those that bring absolutely N-O-T-H-I-N-G to the converstation but have so many negative comments. However being from the same troll tribe as Neil I wouldn’t expect any less from you as well Fog. Fog I dealt with you yesterday…do we really need to expose/embarass you again?

          • Harry Cee says:

            Nonsense…correct, I was born in and live in the states. I have no family members who are supporters in the EPL and BTW, even I know it’s Man UNITED and not ManU.

            btw, Fog, check out this other article here please:

            http://epltalk.com/helpful-advice-for-new-soccer-fans-searching-for-an-epl-team-to-support-37284

          • Fog says:

            “Nonesense” Please don’t tell me that I have to love you…”You have to love those that bring absolutely N-O-T-H-I-N-G to the converstation but have so many negative comments.”

            I would argue with you but I am reminded of the saying: “Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

          • Guy says:

            “Nonsense” and “Fog”…..I enjoy your repartee, but if you would just sit down over a few pints…..well, OK, more than a few pints, you would soon see eye to eye……’cause you’d both be on the floor. :-D

          • Fog says:

            Guy, what fun would that be?? :-D At the same time, you are right–this is not place for the BS that “Nonsense” and I have brought to Harry’s article. You will notice that my second gravatar is “Stirring the Pot.”

          • Neil says:

            Surprised to see my comment spark such debate. I didn’t intend to troll anyone, but choosing to support ManU is a choice I see taken very often by people who have no connection with the club or city… Just a funny social observation that people like to cheer for a team that wins most of the time. I always wonder what would happen to the millions of disconnected ManU/Chelsea/Liverpool supporters if they started to finish mid-table or worse.

          • harry cee says:

            But regardless if they are winning or losing, people will still follow because of the marketing that Man United does for the team. On the flipside, look at the New York Yankees who is another one of the world’s MOST POPULAR teams. They have won only 2 World Series titles since 2000 (2000 and 2009 as it were) but that doesn’t stop fans at almost any given point in the world from buying their merchandise.

            As long as a team stays visible and keep compiling good wins, people will keep coming. I talked about that in another article I wrote a few months back. In my opinion, anyone getting into any sport very rarely will choose the perennial underdog unless that team just so happens to reside in the city they live in.

            Let’s be real, nobody will willingly root for the Cleveland Browns, Seattle Mariners, Washington Wizards or Wigan Athletic unless they breed a culture of winning.

            Winning keeps teams visible. Winning keeps teams viable. Winning keeps teams EXPOSED.

            It would be very hard to predict what would happen if SAF retired but I don’t think man United would drop off just like that. There have been many sports franchises that survived tenured coaching staffs leaving and many that also haven’t. Look at the LA Lakers. They are doing quite fine this season without Phil Jackson.Not to mention, how many other of the top 8 teams have managed to do well and have had different coaches within 10 years?

            You don’t have to like my choice, I am just happy to have a way to follow the games.

    • Frill Artist says:

      If you hate the EPL so much, why are you on here. Stupid troll.

  2. Nonsense says:

    …also looks like Harry’s a USMNT fan. That’s a plastic MAN United glory hunter if I ever saw one (SARCASM).

    Neil who do you support?

  3. Guy says:

    More people. More fun. Nice story, Harry.

  4. harry cee says:

    Teams I support:

    Man United, USMNT (even though they are TRYING to get it together) and DC United (no support like HOME support.)

    All in no particular order.

    • Nonsense says:

      Absolutely!

    • IanCransonsKnees says:

      Hi Harry, decent story and glad you’re enjoying it. Can’t complement you on your choice of Manchester United. Just thought I’d let you know that you’ve picked up and ex Stoke City player at DC United, Lewis Neal. He was playing for our sister side in the USL, Orlando City, but has been picked up by DC United. He must be getting on a bit now. He left Stoke for Preston North End and has played for Carlisle United and Shrewsbury Town too in England. To be honest he’s lasted longer as a pro than I would have expected.

      If you ever make the pilgramage let us know and I’ll point you in the right direction.

      • harry cee says:

        I will keep an eye out as we are supposed to be going to the DC United v NY Red Bulls match this Sunday!

        • IanCransonsKnees says:

          Luke Rodgers who plays for the NYRB used to play for our local rivals Port Vale at League 2 level. He still managed to run a Lamborghini Gallardo at that level! From what I gather he had a decent season last year.

          • Clampdown says:

            He couldn’t get a visa. Sorry to say Luke is plying his trade in Norway now. He was a blast to watch last year.

  5. dan says:

    Glad you’re getting so much out of the sport!

  6. Frill Artist says:

    Always happy to see a new convert and GLORY, GLORY, MAN UTD!

  7. Paul says:

    Well that was a nice little read. With the ever growing popularity of the Premier League around the world, it makes me realise how lucky I am to be able to attend Premier League games in person on a regular basis – something I’ve always took for granted really! It’s great that you’re getting to see either Chelsea v Milan or Liverpool v Spurs even though you don’t support either of those teams… go along and make the most of it while you have the chance when they’re in town!

    Shame you support Man U though ;) (Banter!)

    • Thomas says:

      You really are lucky.

      Though I could say the passion among college football fans may come close, there really isn’t anything like it stateside.

      There’s a few NFL stadiums that get pretty loud and hostile, but nothing like you see in Europe.

  8. Fog says:

    Harry…thanks for sharing your experiences…I love to hear how fans become fans. For me, I saw my first soccer game in 1974. I received two tickets to a San Jose Earthquakes v. Los Angeles Aztecs game as a consolation prize for answering a question incorrectly on a radio phone-in show. My wife and I enjoyed it so much we convinced another couple to buy season tickets…they had never seen a game!!! We didn’t miss a game for seven years.

    Little did I realize at the time that I would be able to see some of the all-time greats of the game…albeit past their prime. Pele and the Cosmos, George Best. Johan Cruyff, Gerd Mueller, Bobby Moore, Gordon Banks and soooo many more.

    I have been a fan every since and have seen games on five continents…two World Cups and the Euro 1996 final.

  9. harry cee says:

    Fog, the one point that hits me is when I think 10 to 20 years from now, who will I be thinking of as a ‘great’ from this generation.

    Just this past Saturday, my wife and I went to a dinner over a friend’s house and surprisingly, his father also was a Man Utd supporter and he and I got into a nice discussion about who was better Messi or Ronaldo and then he told me about a lot of his experiences and players that he’s met on his travels. It makes me appreciate this time so much more.

    I think I am at a point that I would much rather go to just one World Cup game over a Super Bowl game…unless the Ravens are in it!

    • Fog says:

      Harry…I agree with you. I have done both (Super Bowl XVII – Dolphins v. Redskins) and 13 World Cup games (6 in Dallas – 1994 and 7 in Japan – 2002). The Super Bowl has evolved into a corporate/celebrity event that the true fans have been priced out of…get to a WC game before FIFA does the same thing.

    • Justen R says:

      Harry, Check out the American Outlaws if you are interested in going to the World Cup. A few months ago I just put down a deposit for the travel package they put together for the 2014 World Cup. It’s a hefty deposit and total cost, but it’s the World Cup! http://www.theamericanoutlaws.com/worldcup

  10. kkosher says:

    Hey Harry,

    Nice article, reading the portion regarding the fandom and the head nods/smiles I know exatly how you feel. I got a mental picture of walking down the street in Cleveland and getting the same thing. Even someone from a team you dont support, it is just nice to see another U.S. fan cheering on the EPL. I just moved to the west coast and the game times are rough, but i still wake up for as many as possible.

    I would also give you a hard time for choosing to support Man U, but i get the same thing for becoming a Chelsea fan, i know the feeling. If you pick any large team (Man U, City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea…Tottenham?) people will call you a bandwagon fan.

    Roll with it and enjoy the ride (and most likely 20th league title!)

  11. jtm371 says:

    Harry
    Great story glad to have another fan.my only question how you can watch the EPL and still be interested in the MLS? to me it is hard to watch with the lack of talent,i know their are good players but maybe it is just me.don’t take any crap about being a MUFC fan the team i pull for is trying to get to the EPL.if i am ever in DC i will look you up to shoot the bull about all things football.good luck with the run in for the title.

    • Harry Cee says:

      Almost for the same reason why some people love the NBA and yet watch local hoops games. If we don’t support what we have in our own back yard, then when it’s gone we will miss it. I am lucky to even be in a city that has an MLS side and even better just a 15 minute ride away.

  12. Guy says:

    Harry—-regarding “nods/smiles” at jerseys, I append an email I received from my son today, who lives in Raleigh. He was at a downtown beerfest this past weekend with his Hibs jersey on. If a Hibs jersey can attract comment in Raleigh, then the U.S. is soccer’s oyster.

    “I was asked numerous times if I was Scottish, met an American who loves the club and saw matches at Easter Road, met a shocked Glaswegian and an even more shocked Edinbourgian who I think wet himself. “DATS ME CLUB!!!!” Fun times” :-)

    Gotta love it! :-)

    • Fog says:

      Guy, I can understand your son’s feelings. There are definite advantages to wearing a soccer jersey. I couldn’t count the number of pints that were bought for me during Euro96 when I wore my US national team jersey to the games. The locals were astounded that someone from the States would be at the Euros…unheard of…especially way back them…

      Harry, the Euro Championships are another event to put on your bucket list. If for nothing else than to experience the feeling at the pubs after the games with the supporters from both sides and the neutrals sharing a pint or two or five. All good fun.

      • Guy says:

        Watch it, Fog. I think even “Nonsense” might agree with you on that one. ;-)

        btw, I own a Hearts jersey as well as 2 Hibs jerseys. I know, I know…….but both draw comment, which I am more than happy to buttonhole folks on for anywhere from 5-30 minutes…..and a pint or two. :-)

  13. Harry Cee says:

    It’s stories like these that makes me glad that I found this sport. The first time I wore my Messi kit, I walked past a construction site and a whole bunch of the hispanic workers on the site were yelling “MESSI…MESSI” and even had one that asked where I got the kit from…I helped him buy one a few weeks later.

  14. Evan says:

    It’s stories like these that back me up when I call United supporters glory hunters.
    In my opinion it’s an absolute joke that you chose United as your club to support.

    To each their own though.

    • Guy says:

      Who should he have chosen?

    • Paul says:

      It’s totally different for somebody who doesn’t live in the UK or have any ties in any way through being in another country across the world. I support my team because that’s just the way it is. I’ve been brought up on them, it’s just something that is the way it is. In this city you’re either red or you’re blue and 99% of the time that’s already decided for you by virtue of family. On a personal level, I can’t stand Man U, they’re one of the two biggest rivals to my own team and there’s absolutely no love lost between the fans (so much so the travelling fans are locked in the ground at the end until it’s clear outside) but hey ho, if this man wants to support them from across the world who’s gonna stop him? Better supporting Man U than supporting nobody and missing out on the Premier League completely.

      • Fog says:

        Paul,

        Interesting post. This is what I talked about in a previous post. For the most part, here in the States new football followers are not “born” into following a specific team. We use a different selection process. As Harry said in a previous article many times we choose to follow one of the most visible teams. When I first started following soccer via the NASL, I of course followed the San Jose Earthquakes. They were from my city…so they were my team. I wouldn’t think otherwise. The first team I became aware of in England was Shrewsbury Town because one of the Earthquake players (Laurie Calloway) played there. Of course, Al Gore had not invented the internet yet, so in reality I knew nothing of Shrewsbury Town other than a name.

        The first league outside the US that I followed was the Bundesliga. It was the only televised league broadcast in English. It was presented in a MOTD format on our public television station and was commented on by Toby Charles. It wasn’t until after seeing England play twice in Japan at WC 2002 (Denmark/Brazil) that I started to follow the EPL.

        So, please hold those of us outside the UK to different standards when suggesting to us if we should or should not follow a specific side. Again, we have a much different, not necessarily better, selection criteria.

        I experienced going to matches in Argentina where it is common practice for the fans to be kept separated at the end of the match for security reasons. I have been to matches where there have been fans killed after the match. I never wore the colors of either team for safety reasons, with one exception by mistake. My wife and I left at halftime to protect ourselves. Cheers….

  15. Nonsense says:

    Gaffer – is there a reason my comments are now ‘moderated’ and then deleted? You’ve got Fog following me around making it known he’s trying to irritate “stir up the pot” me and others. Lately only posts off of my ON TOPIC comments. Uses his old dodger humor (some of the most lame jokes I’ve heard in some time). The guy is always the first one to go off topic and this is how you treat a long time reader/visitor of EPL. If my comments continue to be moderated while Fog has free range to make any type of comment he wants that pertains to only me I’ll leave the site along with any family or friends I introduced to the the sight.

    PS I think the Viagra joke was perfectly acceptable. I mean the man now lurks for me to comment…

    Examples:

    “Nonesense” Please don’t tell me that I have to love you…”You have to love those that bring absolutely N-O-T-H-I-N-G to the converstation but have so many negative comments.”

    I would argue with you but I am reminded of the saying: “Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

    Guy, what fun would that be?? At the same time, you are right–this is not place for the BS that “Nonsense” and I have brought to Harry’s article. You will notice that my second gravatar is “Stirring the Pot.”

    Hey Guy, if you are interested, send me an email and we can have some sidebar discussions and take them from here, where they don’t belong. Email me at:

    nonesense666@hotmail.com

    • The Gaffer says:

      Nonsense, the reason your comment got automatically flagged in the moderation queue is because you used the word ‘viagra’ which is commonly used by spammers.

      After reviewing your comment, it had nothing to do with the topic of the article. Stay focused and stop trolling.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  16. Nonsense says:

    As I originally posted: Fog I believe the nurses at the home have accidentally swapped out your heart medicine for vee_agra (let’s hope that misspelling gets through) because you’ve had a hard on for me for over 4 hours and I believe the commercial asks you to contact a doctor. Now THAT’S what a TROLL is Gaffer!

    Stop trolling? Me? You have a set of rules for one and another set for others. Enjoy the decline in viewer hits and advertisement money.

  17. Taylor says:

    Nice article, Harry ! Although I still quite disagree that you have to pick a team to enjoy football. I’ve been following European soccer since 1987 and enjoyed without supporting any particular clubs. Man United “found me” when I watched a live coverage when United faced Arsenal in the first “Battle of Old Trafford” in 1990.

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