Given Oldham Athletic’s triumph over the mighty Liverpool FC this past weekend, this story needs to be told.
A few weeks ago, I enjoyed the 3rd round of the FA Cup. The highlight of the weekend was watching Mansfield Town (5th tier of English soccer, ~5K Twitter followers) valiantly lose at home to Liverpool (Top 10 EPL, ~1.5MM Twitter followers) and Luis Suarez’s wrist (why is there no Twitter parody account called Luis Suarez’s Wrist?). The whole scene was surreal: the cow-pasture of a pitch, the Mansfield owner and his trophy wife, the seats Mansfield left vacant for the Hillsborough victims and the controversial handball. It was a great scene.
After the game, I decided I should do something to support this plucky little club ~3800 miles from my home and visited the Stags online shop. I bought a “FA Cup Commemorative Scarf” because I knew I’d never wear a Stags kit. I have a small soccer scarf collection of non-conflicting clubs and this would be a wonderful addition; whenever asked who Mansfield was, I could tell them the story of that FA Cup game.
To be clear, I’m not saying I’m a new Stags fan for life. This isn’t one of those stories where an American needed an English club and the “club found me”. I was just impressed with the Stags pluck and thought they deserved $20, much like one would tip an impressive street musician.
Weeks passed, and finally the package showed up. As I ripped at the envelope, my heart sank a little. See….the Mansfield Town website did not say that this “FA Cup Commemorative Scarf” was one of those dreadful 50/50 scarves and that half of the scarf was devoted to Liverpool FC.
This is problematic as I’m a Manchester United fan. I can’t sport Liverpool FC gear! My scarf collection is full of complimentary clubs and MUFC and LFC are an incongruous as you get! My whole plan for introducing Americans to the beauty of the FA Cup via scarf questions went up in smoke!!!!! Even my child noticed the scarf and said, “Daddy…why do you have a Liverpool scarf? Don’t we hate them?” Yes….we do HATE them sweetie!
However, all was not lost. Whether it is jogging, snowboarding or tending horses in the wee hours, we all have wintertime activities that require a scarf, but don’t necessitate anyone else looking at the scarf (and assuming I’m a BIG Liverpool fan). So, the scarf was relegated to this second string duty. I was even careful to tuck the scarf such that only the yellow Stags portion was visible around my neck; it was as if the Liverpool half didn’t even exist.
Then, one day while wearing the scarf, I was presented with that wonderful joy of parenthood: cleaning up a child’s vomit! We happened to be in an outdoor location with (a) no running water and (b) no clean rags. If this vomity face and pair of hands was to be cleaned up, it would depend on an item of clothing on my body. My shirt? No…too cold. My gloves? No….too filthy. Perhaps I could use some dry leaves off the ground?