It’s not every day that I start to get a hangover at about 4pm, but then I guess it’s not every day that Manchester United win the Premiership. That’s the English ‘soccer’ league, for the uninitiated. In retrospect, starting to drink beer at 10am on a Sunday was never going to be one of my best-laid plans. But having already bitten my nails down to stubs in the run-up to the deciding game, I had to find something to do with my hands. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it…
Of course, while soccer is admittedly undergoing a young person/Beckham-induced boom, mainstream America’s indifference towards the beautiful game is well documented. My office is actually packed with football fans, but – like Britain’s reaction to baseball, American football and (to a lesser extent) ice hockey and basketball – ‘proper football’ is about as interesting as rat droppings for most people.
As such, it can be difficult to find anywhere to view matches where the big game atmosphere constitutes anything more than The Special One asking me to pick my shoes up off the floor. But with United (or ManYoo, as they’re generally called by the limited number of Americans who have heard of them) just needing a win to clinch their tenth title in sixteen years, I ploughed the depths of Google to find a bar in Brooklyn that would be showing the big clash.
Seeing the closed doors on my arrival at Floyd NY didn’t bode well, but it turns out that they were just trying to keep the sun off the giant screen showing the game within. And despite being the official home of the New York Tottenham Hotspur’s Supporters Club, the place was packed full of United fans eager to see Rooney, Tevez, Ronaldo (and eight more men that no normal American has ever heard of) attempt to win the title for the second year running.
Now here’s the strange thing. The majority of the people in the bar were probably British – or at least not American. Put them in a bar in the UK, and they’d almost certainly be screaming at the television every time a United pass went astray, or swearing with abandon at each missed opportunity. But unless you’re in one of the huge football pubs (such as Nevada Smiths or the Red Lion, if you’re in New York), football watching seems to be a much more cultured and respectful pursuit – and that rubs off on even the British hardcore. So much so that when I laughingly mentioned to a couple of bystanders that the Chelsea captain John Terry would probably miss the Champions League final with a dislocated elbow, they gave me a look that suggested they suspected me of surreptitiously relieving myself in their pints of beer.
Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of joyful roaring as each of United’s two winning goals went in, and collective relief when the final whistle went to confirm them as champions. But whenever you have to rely on Spurs fans to provide the only chanting at a game, you know something’s gone horribly wrong.
Now with the Premiership finally in the bag, the only question is where to watch the Champions League final.
“From behind the sofa with my hands partially over my eyes” is my current thinking.