PREMIER LEAGUE – SATURDAY MATCH DAY!

It’ll be extremely hard for me to rip myself away from all the College Football games tomorrow in order to watch the Manchester United at Aston Villa match at 12:30pm ET on FOX Soccer Channel.  Albeit, I’ll have the remote working overtime as I switch back and forth, but it’s such a privilege to finally have access to the highest league in English football, the “Premier League”, it just has to be a priority.

Young people reading this post may not realize that those of us who grew up prior to the early 1980s only had access to about 10 channels on TV.  (And, yeah, we used to have to get up to change the channels, and fiddle with rabbit ears to get halfway decent reception.)

There were no dedicated sports channels before cable came along, and in fact, if we wanted to see anything other than the usual MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA, we tuned into the Wide World of Sports on Saturday nights.  Today, those of us who have a robust subscription to cable, dish, or FIOS, have access to about 20 sports channels alone.  Yes!

Of course, as a newbie, one may expect that my favorite football team to watch right now is Manchester United.  It was easy to pick them as they are like the New York Yankees of the sport.  The team has the most championships (12) in Premier League history and was recently listed as the world’s #1 most valuable sports team.  (Incidentally, the Yankees finished #3 on this list).  The team also recently announced that they have 659 million followers across the globe.  (71 million in Americas, 90 million in Europe, 173 million in Africa and the Middle East, 325 million in Asia).

But, I admit that I am branching out and finding Liverpool very attractive to watch, with the help of the Fox Soccer documentary series “Being Liverpool”.  It’s a well crafted insider peak at how a football club operates.  Much recommended.

One of the things that I am blown away by English football is the amazing athleticism of the footballers.  They run almost full tilt for the full 90 minutes, with only halftime for a break and some substitutions.  Even the referees are on the move constantly.  It’s lovely stuff.

Another thing I really enjoy is the lack of commercials.  You heard me.  Not one, except during halftime.  It’s bloody brilliant!

The UK announcers are fun to listen to as well, and give a real English flavor to the telecast.  (However, I have been been forced to use closed caption when an Irish announcer speaks – they are just too hard to understand…)

I also love the fact that football continues in any kind of foul weather.  The Premier League season is held from August to May with 38 matches apiece, so one would expect that the teams would play in less than perfect GB winter weather.  But, hail??  Yes.  Last week, it was actually hailing during the Swansea vs. Chelsea match and they just kept on running all over the field.  I’d like to see Major Leaguers do that!

What I am confused by is all the fan chanting in the stadiums.  Can someone tell me what that’s all about?  I investigated online and found this interesting website that contains thousands of Premier League chants (http://www.fanchants.com/).  They are totally nutty, inappropriate, and weird (but a good weird).  I just don’t understand who comes up with this stuff, and who dictates what specific chants are going on in the stadium?  Can someone enlighten me?

I continue to learn about English football and hope that other Americans make time for it as well.  Too bad it usually takes place on Sat and Sun during College Football, apt competition indeed.

By the way, if you’re ever in Philadelphia on Sat or Sun mornings, drop in to a keen English inspired pub called “Dandelion”.  They showcase live Premier league games in the main bar area with brunch.  It’s a pretty cool experience to enjoy a little Guinness and Bubble & Squeak to go along with the English football.  Cheers!

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