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The Yankee Groundhopper

ISSUE #2 – MARCH 2, 2017

Greetings from London!

I am two-thirds of the way through my latest tour, currently taking a break on the couch of my "English family" in South London And yes, I know it's somewhat grotesque to talk about a "break" in the middle of a soccer tour of England, but I cover a lot of ground on these things -- in this case, five games in cities in 10 days, which will bring my total to 56 games at 43 different clubs.

But I don't write to tell you that; I write to inform and, I hope, entertain. So let's get to it.

This Tour so Far

The theme of this trip has been "having fun in the world of small(er) time football." That is, I haven't seen a Premier League game on this run, and even when I do, on Saturday, it will be a relegation battle between Swansea City and Burney. And if you're wondering what relegation is all about, here's a post all about it. (Hint: It's something we really need in the US!).

I arrived on Thursday the 23rd and had a fine version of the Standard Customs Chat upon arrival. Then I took a bus to Birmingham and spent my "zombie day" working on my badge collection with a run to West Bromwich Albion.

Next, I spent a day in Burton-Upon-Trent, the traditional brewing capital of England (and the home of Bass Pale Ale since about 1770), where I explored the town and then caught a game at the amazing Burton Albion FC, who just turned pro less than 10 years ago and are already up to the second tier of the football pyramid (and if you're wondering what that means, here you go.)

Then it was off to Barnsley, known for ... not much. Even the people I met, though wonderful and possessing of a wonderful "Yawk-sha" accent, kind of apologized there wasn't more to do. I did catch a local battle against Huddersfield Town and their 4,600+ fans at the wonderfully-named Oakwell Stadium.

And by the way, if you are wondering how I figure out which games to go to -- and, perhaps, you're wondering which games you want to go see -- I do have a process (patent pending).

I will finish up this tour in the next edition of the Groundhopper.

Meet a New Club: Notts County

Here is a new feature: A new club introduced in each Groundhopper -- presumably a club you've never heard of. (In other words, Manchester United will never appear in this space.)

This time I want to introduce you to Notts County FC, which is in Nottingham -- yes, that Nottingham, with Robin Hood and everything. The town is a wonderful place to stay, with two clubs in town and many more nearby, plus great tourism options. Here's a travel guide.

County were formed in 1862 and claim to be the longest-running professional club in the world. Another random fact: The mega Italian club Juventus copied their shirts (black and white stripes) from Notts County after the English club toured Italy. It may their biggest contribution to the game; as I said in my report on a game there, "They haven’t won much — FA Cup 1894! — but they are still here."

They are in League Two, the fourth tier of the game, but even that is a level above Boreham Wood FC, in the northern suburbs of London. I ran into County again there when they played "The Wood" in the FA Cup earlier this year.

From My YouTube Channel

Every issue, I will dip into my Youtube channel for a video from my travels. This is the most popular one I have (viewed nearly 113,000 times as of this writing) It shows star striker Harry Kane scoring the winner at Aston Villa a couplyears back -- crucially when I was sitting right across the stadium from the rapturous Tottenham fans. Click on the image to see the video, and enjoy!
Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham, 2-11-2014: Kane's Winner


Tickets: Everything I Know

Tickets, especially to the Premier League, are pretty much the holy grail for folks interested in English soccer. And they can be tough to get. But not (quite) impossible. Here is what I know.

I Can Help You Plan Your Trip!

The book, blog and newsletter are just parts of the whole; I can also help you plan your trip, and I would love to do so!

I have a page of Frequently Asked Questions, but I also offer consulting services; we trade some emails, we jump on the phone, I put together a suggested itinerary along with background info, we talk some more, and I keep you updated as things change.

I have already helped some other folks, and I would love to hear from you.
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