All I remember of the 1988 Olympic 100 metres final was the sprinters approaching the blocks, a brief moment of darkness and tranquillity and then Ben Johnson jogging round the stadium with a wild look in his eye and a triumphant arm aloft. Having stayed up all night to watch it, I fell asleep for a fraction under 10 seconds. I did the same with at least two Mike Tyson title fights watching him enter the ring before waking up to see him standing over the blubbering wreckage of his unconscious opponent.
I have long given up trying to stay up for major sporting events. Therefore, I purposely slept through our draw with Seacoast United Phantoms.
This morning I reached for my phone to check Twitter to find that a hard core of Twellows had stayed up to listen-in via Yellow Player. There was talk of the noise coming from the ‘bleachers’ and that the Phantoms’ goal came from a ‘Light PK’. Yellow Player seemed to fizz in and out of contact throughout the game – unforgivable when visiting Gillingham but seemingly in keeping with the spirit of adventure surrounding the tour. A Phantoms fan made a point that the game was quite a big deal because we’re professional and, more importantly, on FIFA (ergo: famous). The purpose of the game, for them, was that it was an exciting challenge. Something I can buy into.
The photos reinforce all of this; the game was held on Astroturf with a bewildering number of pitch markings for other sports, the surrounding bleachers are makeshift and sparsely populated. It couldn’t be anywhere but America, which is, like, proper foreign.
When Saturday Comes has an article this month which talks of the ‘New Seriousness’ in football, where we are encouraged to be terribly earnest about football and its meaningful place in society. This tour is the complete opposite of that horrible trend.