With no consultation with my co-bloggers
, I'm calling this a sports blog for a limited time only. Matthew's beloved Cleavland Cavaliers
will battle my glorious Detroit Pistons
for the Eastern Conference Championship and the chance to play for N.B.A. Championship rings. You may wonder why I support Detroit; I spent some time in Michigan and saw a few games. We lost them all but by the final game, a bitter overtime defeat to the then all conquering Lakers
, I felt the rage. I knew that I would not be able to leave this team in the U.S., that I would look for their scores on the Internet
back in blighty
, at times staying up till dawn for important games. When I returned to the U.S. in 2004 I was fortunate enough to watch my boys win the whole damn thing; almost sweeping those damn Lakers
in the final.
During that play off run I wore my Ben Wallace jersey around town - people would beep and wave at me, showing their support
for the little team, the Eastern team, as they took on the those slick over hyped
playboys from the West. In my head I liked to imagine that I was actually a big time football player who was turning in guest appearances for UVA
and fuelling unprecedented
success and pride. This faded somewhat when I was bent over double fighting for breath 1 mile into my run but still, I dreamt.
I did achieve
some kind of notoriety at the local bar, Orbitz
, where I watched the play offs and finals. I would go there with my girlfriend
whose own Spurs had been felled by the wretched Lakers
and meet up with Steve, a Lakers
fan who was angry for many reasons, but chose to vent these frustrations by clinging to the fact that it was the referees and not the fabulous Pistons who were responsible for his Loser Lakers
having the Championship ripped from their grasp. During these times I awkwardly ate my chicken dippers, wondering when it would be safe to attempt engaging him in conversation. I knew how he felt; after Detroit lost their one game in that series I was son angry I threw my flip flop against a wall outside. Anywho
, after a few games the bartender there would refer to me as Detroit. I can remember the first time this happened, casually accepting my new moniker, inwardly swelling with the joy that it was not sad sack or bent ben
, and knowing that for me, a small part of the American dream had been achieved
. Often I have wondered if I had kept going to that bar whether my nickname would have been upgraded to "Motown" - who knows?Anywho
, the Eastern Finals are upon us, and I'd like to use this space for updates, chatter, needling, and to exercise bragging rights. Nothing personal against Matthew; he was kind enough to take Jeff and I out for the Finals when Detroit lost in game 7 to the Spurs. It's just more fun to have a little friction for these events.
Also, today, I have a chance to exercise some demons. Chelsea (my Chelsea) play Manchester United in the F.A. Cup Final (football, proper football). I was there the last time these teams met in the Final (the most famous Domestic Cup Competition in the world) I was there. I was 14 years old and it was my first trip to Wembley
, the national stadium. Manchester were the champions of the land, Chelsea had almost been relegated to a lower division. My mum always says I went away a boy and came back a man. I always feel I went away a boy and came back miserable. We lost 4-0. All goals coming in the second half. At the break we came in having dominated; we hit the cross bar, and as the rain poured down I felt we could actually win the game- I was giddy. After the game I stayed behind
waving my flag forlornly in the heavy rain, certain that my defiant gesture would be the story the press would go with, symbolic of the unfair way we had lost the game, and the courage we had shown in trying to win it. When I got up to deliver the newspapers on my route, I was greeted with victorious smiles, glorious celebrations, all dressed in red and no muted pride cloaked in blue.
I wore a shirt with Sinclair on the back; most of you won't know the player even if your versed up on English football. He was my favourite player; he once celebrated a goal by dropping his shorts and doing a weird little shuffle. He also had to be substituted from a game because he needed to take a shit. He was my hero, and he is the one player's name I have had on my shirt, although we've had some much more famous and perhaps more deserving players since. That shirt was also shat on by a seagull while I watched us lose another game.
Anyway, the shirt is coming out again today, the sun is shining
and I hope to be adding a triumphant post come tomorrow.
Please Chelsea, please do this.