Clearly, the opportunity to idle on site at historic grounds is the best thing about a soccer man’s swing through England or other lands where they favor the footy.
But past that, a lot of little things make the trip. Like the authentic pubs. Or the London Underground. (You know: “Mind the gap.”)
And the newspapers. I do get myself a little soccer stiffy whenever I get the chance to actually pour through the variety of tabs and broadsheets, available on just about every street and tube stop in London.
Here, most of our newspapers have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. The industry in the U.K. has suffered, too, but not as mightily. (Generally speaking, the industry decline hasn’t been as pronounced in other foreign lands beyond the U.S. and the U.K., so there’s still a healthy news gathering element in other lands, assuming you speak the language.) But the U.K. industry does still thrive on a healthy sense of competition, so plenty of fruit remains on the tree, so to speak.
And that makes the trip more enjoyable still. Every day while in London I would pick up at least two newspapers to pick through the selection of soccer stories, analysis, data, gossip and wild-ass speculation. Oh, joy!
Yes, technology has brought America a long way in the ability to absorb news in real-time from Europe. It’s certainly a long way from back in the day, when reading the weekend scores was about the only way ex-pats from the U.K. could follow their teams.
Today, I can go find a story on-line from The Daily Mail, The Guardian, etc., on a certain topic. And I appreciate that I can do that. But those are mostly the big pieces; what’s missing is the full depth of coverage.
It’s a little like having someone bring you a tasty enchilada and a maybe little rice. You can certainly enjoy it. But how much would the yummy factor rise if those little staples were served up with chips, salsa, maybe a little side of borracho beans, along with a little pico de gallo and guacamole? Oh, mamma!
That’s the way it is with British newspapers. The on-line offerings just aren’t going to be as extensive. You get the big enchiladas (the major stories) but you miss the hell out of the fixin’s. You miss the 400-word piece and accompanying chart on Mario Balotelli’s touches in a barren afternoon at Upton Park. (22 touches over 61 minutes, most with little menace). You might miss the piece on Joey Barton being probed by the FA over obscene gestures made toward Liverpool’s Fernando Torres. You miss the Kenny Dalglish page (Voice of a Legend!) and all the little trinkets that includes. You miss so much!
I suppose you can go sleuth out some of this on the internet. But you’ll never find it all, as there is so much that simply escapes on-line posting. Besides, to find more requires a little bit of something they call “work.” That’s OK, I suppose – if you’re getting paid.
Me? I’ll take my full range of news and notes in U.K. soccer coverage with a little morning cup of coffee or a pint at the pub.