Sunday, March 13, 2011

A New Rivalry

When I think of sports rivalries, the first one that comes to mind is the World Champion Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. After that, it’s the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs. Nationally, the big rivalries are the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes and the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. But personally, the only ones that really matter to me are the Packers vs. the Bears and the Brewers vs. the Cubs.

That is until recently.

Due to the fact that my English friend Bev Cooper and her entire family are enormous football fans, I might have a new rivalry to consider.

Before continuing, I should make you aware that we are taking about English football or footie, as the Brits like to call it. Over here, we just call it soccer. But that’s a topic for another blog. Back to the new rivalry.

This new “football” rivalry is between Arsenal and its neighbor Tottenham Hotspur, with whom they regularly contest the North London derby. It is sort of like the Packers and the Bears competing for the NFC North division title each year.

Here is a little background on the two football teams from “across the pond”. First Arsenal.

Arsenal Football Club is an English Premier League football club based in North London. One of the most successful clubs in English football, having won 13 First Division and Premier League titles and 10 FA Cups. They hold the record for the longest uninterrupted period in the English top flight and are the only side to have completed a Premier League season unbeaten.

Arsenal is also the third most valuable Association football club in the world as of 2010, valued at $1.2 billion. For much of Arsenal's history, their home colors have been bright red shirts with white sleeves and white shorts. Nicknamed the Gunners, their crest is a cannon, which faces east with the club's name written in a sans-serif typeface above it.

Now for some Tottenham history.

Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, commonly referred to as Spurs, are an English Premier League association football club based in Tottenham, North London. The club's home stadium is White Hart Lane.

The club’s motto is “To Dare Is to Do” and its emblem is a gamecock standing upon a football. Tottenham Hotspur were the first club in the 20th century to achieve the League and FA Cup Double, winning both competitions in the 1960–61 season.

At the end of the 19th century the club switched colors to the white shirts and blue shorts, which they are now well known for wearing, hence the nickname “Lilywhites”.

There you have it, Arsenal Gunners and Tottenham Spurs, a bitter rivalry that dates back over 100 years.

On 20 November 2010, Tottenham registered their first win at Arsenal in 17 years when they came from 2-0 down at half time to win 3-2. The win also broke a 68 game run of winless results away from home against the “big four” clubs.

As of that date, the all-time record shows Arsenal with 71 victories to 51 for Spurs. 46 matches have ended in a draw during this storied competition. Perhaps due to the intense rivalry between the clubs, relatively few players have played for both Arsenal and Spurs since 1913.

There you have it, a new rivalry for me to sink my teeth into. Now all that’s left is to choose which side to support, Arsenal or Spurs. That shouldn’t be too hard, just pick a team, right?

Not so fast.

Just as my family members and friends are divided between the Packers and Bears, so are my British friends when it comes to Arsenal and Spurs.

On the Arsenal side, it’s Bev, Sparky, Ben, Louise, Vicky, Poppy, Scott, Debbie, Jake and James. Ten Gunner fans! Not bad, but once again, not so fast.

Showing their support for the blue and white there is Sue, Margaret, Hazel, Christine, Carol, Keith, David, Donald, Dave, Tony, Fred, Eddie, Jamie, Steven, Emma, Claire, Clinton, Mandy and Victoria. Yikes, that’s nineteen! Now what, which team do I back?

Trust me when I tell you that this rivalry is just as contentious as ours, so I have to be very careful. The battles on facebook between the two factions are epic and aren’t for the faint of heart.

After much deliberation, I have decided to throw my support to Arsenal in this historic rivalry. I have three solid reasons. First, I have known Bev the longest, over five years now. Secondly, I think the Arsenal’s cannon is much cooler than that skinny bird standing on a ball. Finally, 9-year-old Jake just received his orange belt in judo and I don’t want any trouble from him. Besides that he’s a Packer fan.

I know I am bound to catch a lot of grief from Spurs fans, especially Sue, Margaret, Mandy and David, but my mind has been made up. Hopefully my fellow Arsenal fans will protect me. GO GUNNERS!

Until next time…from the booth.


dsjmeier56 said...

400 Club vs. Anyone

Anonymous said...

You've lost me here on this one. I'm crazy about the Brits. When it comes to stiff upper lips, they can't be beat, but when it comes to sports, we're talking major sucking the hind tit. I just can't go this route, just like I can't go with women broadcasting men's sports. Sorry girls, I don't care if you can find someone to play a sport who's 6"8" and can, occasionally dunk a basketball, I don't care if you can find a Jenny Finch, who is hot as hell - wait, where am I going with this, oh, yeah, soccer. I keep getting it and women's sports mixed up in my arguments. Hmmmm...wonder why? Look, if you haven't evolved beyond piss-warm beer and the fact that scoring in soccer, much like scoring in women's basketball and pro hockey is, 90% of the time, an accident, than those sports and that libation is for you. For me, I'll take an ice-cold tapper and a 450' moonshot off a 95 mph fastball, or a tight spiral off the hand of Aaron Rodgers for a 50 yard TD as my brand of spine-tingling excitement. But, hey, that's just me. AND I'M RIGHT! A man's gotta take a stand, and you can find me at the old ballyard - taking the crisp off a Miller Lite, burning a Salem Light down to the filter, and getting the right wing ready for another round of slo-pitch softball. Game on. Bring it! KP

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

Come on Kool Papa, say what you really feel. Don't hold back on me! I took a ride past the old ball yard this past Friday morning. What a dump. OSHA wouldn't let me anywhere near that announcing booth!

By the way, you're starting to sound a little bit like the Wizard. Just sayin'…

Leplume said...

I know I should know more about "footie" as you call it than I do. I mean, after all, I am married to a Swede and they take that sport very seriously. I also know the coach of the winningest high school soccer team in the area personally. But I don't know...I have a hard time watching soccer. It's a lot of guys running back and forth for a very long time in cute shorts. Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you! LOL I just have a really hard time concentrating on what's going on in the game. LOL...okay, it must be the shorts.

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

@Dave - Who do you think was our biggest rival? Hmm…

@Mary Beth - Just like with your husband, I get a big kick on how serious they take their football. It is very interesting to see how different cultures love their sports!