Across the Pond

Lauren Mimms

(Lauren Mimms)

Here at the London Centre Winter 2010-2011, we’re a family. A crazy, varied, 12-person family that probably wouldn’t have known each other in Appleton, but a family nonetheless. We share family dinners twice a week, go to Paris together, plan movie dates and, of course, share tube rides. But one thing half of our group loves to do just a bit more than the million other London activities is to attend football matches.
As a self-proclaimed non-fan of sports, I was surprised at my attraction to this worldwide obsession. I have to give some credit for my recent obsession to LU footballers Adam Readinger and Stephen Exarhos, who undoubtedly filled our term’s minds with football stats and news of the upcoming matches we can’t miss.
My personal obsession began at our first match, Fulham vs. West Bromwich. The boys bought tickets ahead of time and we boarded the tube, Strongbow – amazing British cider that the VR really needs to start carrying – in hand, ready to witness what would be an eye-opening game for me.
We pushed through crowds on the long walk from the tube stop to Craven Cottage Stadium – Fulham’s home – with fans slurring their teams’ theme songs, mobbing together as a gelatinous force.
When we finally reached our seats, I was amazed at how close we were to the field. A row behind one goal, we could practically touch each player. The game began as players hit the field at full force. I couldn’t tell you their names or individual stats, but their speed and vigor was striking. To me, it appeared much more impressive than any American game.
Fulham made amazing goals as West Bromwich fell behind, and I became an instant fan. At halftime, I made sure to try a signature “Vegetable Pie,” far from ballpark franks and Miller Lites. The game resumed and Fulham succeeded at beating down its small-time opponent. I made sure to buy a Fulham scarf that day and am proud to be a newly appointed Fulham fan.
The days following the game flew by with many more exciting events in between, but football had to creep back into focus this last weekend. A few of us decided to double book.
We would attend a high-profile game, Arsenal vs. Huddersfield Town in the morning, and then following just two hours later, Adam, Steve and I would take seats for Fulham vs. Tottenham.
The day was epic. Approaching Arsenal’s Emirates stadium is like heading toward a Spartan army. It’s huge, overwhelming, and full of intensely passionate “Gunners.” We sat high in the stands, viewing the whole game as it unfolded.
Surprisingly, Hudderfield Town – the underdog – managed to keep Arsenal at bay for most of the game, but the home team managed to win 2-1.
Right after it ended, others went home and the three of us made it through cheering crowds to board the tube and arrive at our next stop, the familiar Cottage. While on the tube, we switched scarves to support Fulham again against the favored Tottenham Spurs.
This game became the most exciting of all. Within the first 15 minutes, Fulham had scored two goals. Two! Most games don’t even make it that far. By the end of the first half, Fulham had four under the belt. With Tottenham in disarray and fans going wild, Fulham virtually ended the game at that point. The second half showed no remorse for the Spurs, and we walked away victorious.
London has shown me the errors in my anti-sports ways and awakened in me a new sense of pride and passion for a sport that many Americans don’t appreciate. All I have to say to that is give the game a chance, and Go Black and White!