Looking for a Wagon to Hitch to

barclays-premier-leaue-clubs-logoThis is a new experience.

Caught up in World Cup fever, yesterday I decided that I was going to start watching soccer. Not just any soccer. I wanted the best soccer and no offense, America’s MLS wasn’t it.

Besides the soccer played at the World Cup, where can you find the best soccer in the world?

Well the first thing that came to mind was the English Premier League, also known as the Barclays Premier League and also known as that stuff people are talking about on Facebook and Twitter weekend mornings. I then laid out a plan- research the Premier League, research the teams and then at the end, have a club I would root for and become a fan of.

Sounds easy enough.

But wait, see above: this is a new experience.

Why?

Well look at my favorite teams in other sports: the Red Sox, the Patriots and the Celtics. I never made the decision to be fans of those teams, I just was a fan of those teams.Whenever I became conscious of sports and the existence of those teams, I was a fan.

Just look at this adorable little guy…

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I grew up in Maine. Becoming a Sox fan wasn’t a choice, it was what you did. I was told stories about relatives I never even knew sitting in their trucks outside their farm in northern Maine, listening to Sox games on the radio. I had grand parents who were Sox fans, parents who were, uncles, aunts, etc. The same goes for the Pats and the Celtics. And although I’ll never claim to being a huge hockey fan, when I am, I root for the Bruins. In fact, there have only been two non-New England teams I’ve ever been a fan of at some point in my life. In middle school, my best friend was a Buffalo Bills’ fan. The Patriots were terrible at the time, the Bills were great. It was an easy temporary shift of allegiances, albeit one I’m not particularly proud of now. Then, years later, I moved to Philadelphia and wanting to watch baseball on a regular basis and care at least a little, I became a Phillies’ fan. Lucky for me this coincided perfectly with the latest golden age of Phillies’ baseball, an age that seems to have sadly run it’s course. The Phillies never supplanted the Red Sox on my Mt. Rushmore of favorite teams, though. They were at best a cousin who lived close by and our relationship was one based on convenience and not necessity- you know, like my relationship with my real favorite teams.

So besides a geographical connection, the only other time I gallivanted with another team was because of either A) friendship/timing or B) a matter of convenience/timing. It would be different picking a soccer team to root for, especially because I’m ignoring the MLS and looking for a club that plays across the pond. I mean, if I were cool with the MLS, going with the New England Revolution would be a no-brainer. But like I said, that’s a non-starter. I’m looking for quality, not quantity. I’m also looking for something that is essentially a complete stranger to me. There are no personal connections, no geographical connections- nothing like that.

This is a weird feeling.

But it’s a fun one.

The first step would be to make sure the Premier League was the way to go. However this was an easy to step to accomplish. I’ve never heard a bad word uttered about the Premier League and knew that I had buddies who were fans. I know there is another league, the one with teams from all over Europe, specifically Real Madrid, Barcelona, etc. But I instinctively gravitated towards the calming shores of England. I’m sure that as a wide-eyed new soccer fan, I’ll be watching both leagues. The Premier League however, would be my first choice.

Now I would need to see what teams played in the Premier League and do some research about them, to see which club would be a good one to hitch my wagon to. This step would be a little bit trickier. The Premier League consists of twenty clubs. The only thing I knew about any of them was that Manchester United was kind of like the Yankees’ of the BPL. There’s no way in hell I’m rooting for a team that would be considered the Yankees of anything. In fact, I can already cross something off of my t0-do list, figuring out who my least favorite team would be. That’s you Manchester United. You’re dead to me. The fact that Man U has won a league high 13 championships makes it worse. Man U. Assholes.

That leaves 19 clubs to pick from.

Posing the question on The Facebook, I got pointed in the direction of Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur (with an added screw Man City,) Chelsea, a second vote for the Spurs, the The Swansea City Swans, Everton, West Ham United and the Green Street Hooligans. Some answers were slightly more helpful than others, also slightly more informative.

From my buddy Chris, a Tottenham Spurs’ fan and the gentlemen who added “screw Man City”: Also, if you choose Arsenal somehow I will never talk to you again. To a lesser extent, Chelsea, Man United or Man City

I would like to remain friends with Chris, he’s a good dude. So that eliminates Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United, Man City.

From my buddy Pete, i.e. The Smartest Person I Know: there is only one team and one team for you. The Swansea City Swans. Firstly, they are awesome. Secondly, they are underdogs but never outclassed. Thirdly, it just so happens that is the first place I got tenure. See – it’s nice to have easy decisions in your life sometimes, isn’t it.

No disrespect to Pete, but I can’t root for a team called the Swans.

And then Justin from sunny Portland, Maine threw this out there: Just heard an interesting idea on the radio. What if USA had one team in the Premier? Probably from NYC. Wouldn’t you root for that team and follow them religiously?

Of course I would. But until that happens, the search continues.

One of my friends on Facebook and also one of the more resourceful fellas I know, Brad, pointed me in the direction of the English Premier League Team Selector, a quiz that helps you figure out what club you should root for. Are you kidding me? This exists? I think I love the Premier League already.

So I did the quiz. It only took a minute.

1. Do you want your club to be based in or near a major city? Or do you prefer a small market team?
London is the epicenter. I want a club in or near London.
I don’t want to be just another London supporter and having an inner-city rival is huge. Give me a club in or near a major city besides London (>400,000 residents).
I root for the little guys. Give me a small city team (<400,000).
No preference

  What priority do you place on your selection above? High    Medium    Low  

Option 2. I’m not trying to root for a team everyone else is.

2. Do you prefer a sleek new stadium or an old one with character?
I’d like an older stadium with lots of history and classic architecture.
History is nice, but I value comfort and amenities over nostalgia.
No preference

  What priority do you place on your selection above? High    Medium    Low  

Option 1. Older stadium please. I love that the Red Sox still play in Fenway Park. I think it adds to the appeal of them, adds to their character. I don’t want a team that plays in a hollow, souless place like the new Yankee Stadium.

3. What’s your ideal stadium size?
The more the merrier. I want to be part of one of the biggest crowds in the Premier League.
I don’t want to be lost in the crowd, but I do want a venue that makes serious noise. An average-sized one works for me.
The fewer the seats, the better chance I can be closer to the action. I prefer a smaller, more intimate experience.
No preference

  What priority do you place on your selection above? High    Medium    Low  

Option 2 because again, I don’t want to be one of many. I want to one of a passionate few.

4. Do you expect your club to be big spenders?
Yes, I want the best team money can buy.
I expect my team to spend some money, but I don’t want a club that just snatches up all the expensive players.
I root for the little guys. Give me a team trying against all odds to win on the cheap.
No preference

  What priority do you place on your selection above? High    Medium    Low  

Option 2. The fact that Manchester United is described as an “all star team” disgusts me. Plus, that’s not how you win, regardless of the sport. You need both stars and roll players.

5. How important to you is loyalty between a manager and his club ownership?
A manager needs time to develop his philosophy. I want a club and manager partnership that lasts as long as possible.
Give the manager a little leeway. But if we’re not consistently winning within 2-3 years, then it’s time to look elsewhere.
The pieces are in place to win RIGHT NOW. If we can’t make progress within a year or two, let’s go in a different direction.
No preference

  What priority do you place on your selection above? High    Medium    Low  

Option 2. I’ll give a manager a couple years before I turn on him. But ultimately the leash can only be so long.

6. How crucial is immediate success to you?
I want a team that’s primed to win the title almost every year. Need to be near a lock for the Top 4.
I want a team that I can grow with. I don’t want a juggernaut, but one with potential to make a breakthrough in the near future.
Middle of the pack is fine with me, just as long as they’re not a strong threat for relegation.
I root for the little guys. Give me a team that’s always playing for an upset, even if it means potential relegation.
No preference

  What priority do you place on your selection above? High    Medium    Low  

Option 2. Let’s be honest, winning every year gets boring. I want some ups and downs because then the ups are so much better. And if it’s a team you grow with, then you feel such a stronger connection with them. It’s why the 2007-2009 Phillies were so much fun. It was a team made up largely of homegrown players. You get to know them better. Big fan of this.

7. What kind of playing style do you prefer from your team?
I want a club that controls the ball, puts shots on goal, and continuously attacks, even if it means giving up goals as well. I’m perfectly happy with a 3-2 victory.
I want a club that puts up stifling defense and tries to limit their opponents’ opportunities to score. A 1-0 win sounds fine to me.
Life is about balance, and my team should move the ball without being reckless. A 2-1 win sounds about right.
No preference

  What priority do you place on your selection above? High    Medium    Low  

Option 1. Not fooling myself here. Defense is cool and all, but goals are cooler.

8. What do you expect from your team in terms of discipline?
Let the yellow (and sometimes red) cards fly. Physical (dirty?) play is part of the game.
My club shouldn’t be a pushover, but they shouldn’t be doing all the pushing either.
Let’s keep it clean, boys. Let’s keep it clean.
No preference

  What priority do you place on your selection above? High    Medium    Low  

Option 2. Keep it clean fellas, but keep them honest too. I don’t want a team of hot heads and cannibals, but I also don’t want a team that isn’t going to stand up for themselves. I want the equivalent of the 2004 Red Sox, my favorite sports team ever and a team that refused to back down & roll over.

9. I want a club with at least one player from the US
Yes, I mean, come on, even just one.
Not necessary. It is the ENGLISH Premier League after all.
No preference

  What priority do you place on your selection above? High    Medium    Low  

Option 1. Yeah, just one is cool.

10. If I had to pick my favorite (sorry, favourite) colors, they’d be these (choose up to three colors).
Black
White
Maroon
Light Blue
Red
Dark Blue
Yellow
Orange
Green
Gold

  What priority do you place on your selection above? High    Medium    Low  

Dark blue please.

The results?

My top match came up as Everton, a 100% match. Next up was Chris’ team, Tottenham Hotspur, a 94%.

Do I go with Everton and trust this mysteriously wonderful and helpful quiz or do I go with Totteham, a club that received recommendations not only from Chris, but from my homey Kenny, whose recommendations back in college of what Phish bootleg to listen to during a certain situation were never wrong?

Hmm…thinking.

And thinking some more.

And then briefly distracted by this clip of my new favorite comedian, Kumail Nanjiani’s stand up…


Back to thinking.

And then it was decided, done so without much fanfare…Everton it is.

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Everton.

I can get down with that. Tim Howard, the US’s super hero goalie plays for Everton and he might be new personal Jesus. Rooting for him on a regular basis wouldn’t be hard at all. All that is left is to research club history and whatnot, to make sure I’m making the right decision. And I want to make the right decision. I’m an all in kind of dude and this would be an all in kind of move.

So, club history…well, as their crest shows, Everton was formed in 1878, which makes it roughly…old. And old is cool. I wouldn’t want to be a fan of a new team. No man, I want a team with history. And Everton’s history is pretty extensive and interesting, seeing as how they were one of the founding clubs of the Football League in 1888 and have won 9 championships- 1890–91, 1914–15, 1927–28, 1931–32, 1938–39, 1962–63, 1969–70, 1984–85, 1986–87. All of their early success kind of reminds me of the Red Sox. Everton finished last season in fifth place with a record of 38-21-9, which yup, was just ahead of Totteham (this mildly counts as my first piece of BPL shit talk.) The club’s main rival seems to be neighboring Liverpool and the club has a couple nicknames, known of which I really understand- The Toffees, The Blues, The School of Science, The People’s Club.

But whatever, it’s settled.

I’m an Everton fan. An Everton supporter.

Their first match is August 16th against Leicester City, whoever the hell they are.

Doesn’t matter.

Giddy Up, Everton.

 

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8 thoughts on “Looking for a Wagon to Hitch to

  1. Welcome to the Everton FC rollercoaster!! Share the ups and downs amongst the most knowledgeable fans in the English Premier League and the best Blue footballing ‘family’ in the UK! You are now one of ‘us’ and there’s no turning back! But the first rule of being an Evertonian is to accept that YOU didn’t choose……YOU were chosen…..it was destiny….you were born a ‘Blue’….you’ve just only had it confirmed! I’m lucky to live 20 minutes away from Goodison Park so never miss a home game. Start saving up for your first trip to GP…..there’s a seat with your name on it! And for all things Everton head to the best Everton fan website around called ‘Toffeeweb’. You’ll get a warm welcome (just post your great article about how you chose the Blues…..sorry, how you were chosen!!) Roll on August!:) Come On You Blues(COYB!)

  2. Awesome — I did the exact same thing, took the quiz and wound up with Everton, too! Tomorrow is a big day, though stinks that Barkley is out. COYB!

  3. Welcome aboard!

    “the club has a couple nicknames, known of which I really understand- The Toffees, The Blues, The School of Science, The People’s Club.”

    Sandra already helpfully pointed you at Toffeeweb. They have a good page on the history of #1 here.

    #2 is fairly obviously linked to the traditional blue kit*. It’s less traditional than the Toffees or the Toffeemen, and obviously less unique too.

    #3 The same page on Toffeeweb sources this to comments by an opposing player back in 1928. The actual phrase “The School of Science” really took off in the 60s though, when our midfield trio of Howard Kendall, Alan Ball and Colin Harvey were known as “The Holy Trinity” for the heavenly style and quality of their play.
    You could perhaps trace the underlying philosophy back to the earliest days of the club though. A guy called Will Cuff was once the choir master at St Domingo’s church (where the club was founded) and was also involved with running Everton from the early 1890s to the end of the 1930s. At various times he was manager, secretary, director and chairman. He once said:
    “Throughout its history Everton F.C. has been noted for the high quality of it’s football. It has always been the unwritten policy of the board, handed down from one generation of directors to another, that only the classical and stylish type of player should be signed. The kick and rush type has never appealed to them.”
    That reputation took a bit of a knock in the late ’90s and early ’00s, but I don’t doubt our current manager, Roberto Martinez, would endorse the sentiment 100%, and popular opinion among the fans and media is that his team is living up to the moniker.

    #4 Our previous manager, at his first press conference after being appointed in 2002, used this phrase to describe Everton. He later said “What prompted it were my experiences after I knew I had got the job and was preparing to travel to Goodison Park for the press conference. While I was leaving Preston I kept bumping into people who told me they were Evertonians and wishing me good luck. Everybody I spoke to seemed to be a Blue – and this was in Preston! Then when I drove into Merseyside everywhere I looked people seemed to be wearing Everton shirts. It just seemed a natural thing to say… that Everton seemed to be the People’s Club of Merseyside.”
    The “of Merseyside” part is rarely included, but is key – both to the sentiment being expressed, and why Evertonians took it (and Moyes) to their heart. Like all the best boasts, it is at the same time a subtle dig at someone else. In this case our lovable offshoot, and neighbours across Stanley Park, Liverpool FC. It’s also only half true. in part he was saying “Yeah, they might have had more recent success, but that’s brought legions of glory-hunting fans from far and wide. Locally, Everton have the stronger support base.”
    In fact football fans in the city are split fairly evenly. However the local Liverpool fans are probably outnumbered on match days by those coming from far afield, while a survey a few years ago showed season ticket holders at Everton lived closer to Goodison Park than those at any other Premier League club at the time.

    I honestly didn’t mean for this comment to be quite so long, that’s what happens though – if you ever do come over for a match be prepared to have your ears talked off y the first scouser you mention football to 😉

    * – N.B. always “kit” or “shirt”, never “uniform” or “jersey”

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