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HAIL! GFOP


I write with fingers aquiver. The MEN IN BLAZERS SHOW is back to sully your television screens. Our Season Five Premiere is THIS MONDAY at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, right after Manchester United lollop around the field against Tottenham. We joke a lot about how Crap we think our own stuff is. But it should be said that Davo, Producer JW, and I are humbled by the fact we are about to have as many seasons as Marouane Fellaini graced the Blue of Everton Football Club. It is an honor to commune with you about the life meaning of the Premier League week in, week out. We never take it for granted.  

2. Our special guest is James Corden, who waxed rhapsodically about West Ham, the power of Bubbles, and the role football has played in his life. The interview is a true joy to listen to. We have put out an extended version Pod version of the interview [LISTEN HERE]. Please send it to all of your friends who started to savor football during the Putin World Cup and encourage them to give it a listen. And if they're deciding on a Premier League team to support, HERE is video of James making the case for West Ham.  

3. This weekend’s slate of games is a tingler. Aside from the soap opera stylings of Manchester United vs. Tottenham [3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN], we have the Girl Interrupted Reboot that is Arsenal vs. West Ham [10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN], The New New Money of Wolves vs. the New Money of Manchester City [7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN], and Liverpool face both Brighton and Hove Albion, two teams which still have the blood of Manchester United on their hands [12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on Network NBC]. In the big, big game of the weekend, America’s Darling’s Everton march behind that footballing Joan of Arc, Richarlison against mighty, league-leading powerhouse Bournemouth, House Cherry [10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN Goldie].

4. This week I had the delight of watching two MLS games in person. On Wednesday night, I witnessed a feisty Hudson River Derby end deadlocked after two goals from two legendary GFOPs, BWP and David Villa. On Sunday, Producers JW, John Johnson, and I headed down to DC to watch Born-Again Rope-A-Dopers DC United continue their resurgence at a packed, delirious, spanking new Audi Field. As a gent who attended almost every game of DC United’s debut season in 1996, and so experienced RFK in good times and in bad, to savor the sight lines, energy and sudden, surging optimism surrounding the club was incredibly moving. Most of all, to watch Wayne Rooney having a blast and doing what he enjoys most -- which is to love his football, was humanly wonderful.

Thanks to all the GFOPs who came out to see us at the British Embassy (Pod Below). We love your town and hope to return soon to play a venue that will allow you to all hang out with us.

5. Megan Rapinoe is one of our favorite human beings in football. Her hometown of Redding, Calif. was one of those destroyed by the Carr Fire. She has launched an enormous fundraising effort to aid the recovery. Please spread the word and do whatever you can to support the town. Megan wrote the following to us which captures the cause perfectly:

“Where you come from is who you are. It's your blood, your family, your friends, and the fibers inside of you. Where you come from also requires of you a care, a love, and a helping hand in times of need. Please join me in supporting my hometown of Redding as it recovers from the devastating Carr Fire. All of my gratitude and appreciate in advance! Love, Pinoe” DONATE HERE

6. This song was my soundtrack for the trip to DC. I played it over 100 times on a Loop and highly recommend you do to. I love the line: "You don't have to pretend you're not scared. Everyone else is just as terrified as you." Listen to Charity by Courtney Barnett HERE

7. I Cannot put this book down. "Ohio" by Stephen Markley. It is one of those novels which just sucks you in to the extent that time not spent reading it feels like wasted time. One of the most human, Zeitgeist novels I have read in a long time

8. Men in Blazers MERCH MERCH MERCH HERE

Courage,
Rog: @rogbennett 

On behalf of
MiB: @meninblazers
Davo: @embassydavies
Producer JW: @JonoWilly

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I. JW on Football in the Shadows of Buddha 

My wife and I are lost. In a stranger’s home. On the other side of the world.

We’re searching for a waterfall on the remote Thai island of Koh Phangan. TripAdvisor warned we would have to walk through what appeared to be someone’s home to find it and Google Maps’ little blue dot confirms we’re in the vicinity. But as I look into the perplexed eyes of two young men sitting on the floor eating dinner, I’m thinking we have the wrong house.

The residents aren’t threatening. Like us, they’re confused. And maybe a little scared that two sweaty Americans are standing in their living room, which is filled with silence. They look at each other. I can feel my partner’s eyes piercing a hole in the back of my head. I had to say something.

“Jurgen Klopp.”

It was the best I could come up with, my mind retreating to two massive Liverpool beach towels we encountered on a clothesline immediately before entering the home. 

The pair on the floor, looked at me, back at each other, and burst out laughing, giving me a thumbs up as we showed ourselves the door.

Football wasn’t what I expected to find on my honeymoon in Thailand. But no matter where we went, or with whom we spoke, it proved as unavoidable as an ill-timed Sergio Ramos tackle.  

It began immediately upon arrival in the Bangkok Airport, where one is greeted by the not-so-smile of football’s most feral incisors: Jamie Vardy. 
 



While Leicester’s Thai owner slanging those King Power-clad beauties in his home country is #ModernFootball at its finest, what struck me during the rest of my 11-day journey was how football found its way into the country’s crevices. In the shadows of temples, between bustling market stalls, in remote hillside villages. Football. Is. Everywhere.

This is best illustrated by the number of dirt patches which have been turned into makeshift fields, like this beauty (not far from the aforementioned house in which we were lost). 


In a clearing of tropical foliage, its touchlines marked off by a red string, and a pink ball resting in one of the goals, I was overcome by the romance of it all. 

I didn’t go a day without seeing a local rocking a Premier League jersey, the authenticity and era of which varied greatly. From what looked to be a very authentic Romelu Lukaku United getup to a Mo Salah Liverpool number in which the name might well have been taped on the back.

More than anything, football proved the Rosetta Stone between us and so many Thai people. 

In Chiang Mai, we had a tour guide named Nu. Even among a people who are the kindest I’ve ever encountered, Nu was the warmest. The type of dude you hug, not handshake. In two days of touring, a smile never left his face. Think Thai N’Golo Kante. 

But on our final day, with our car nearing our hotel, we were debating whether Nu’s beloved Liverpool’s new signings would be enough to close the gap on City. We started talking Jordan Henderson’s role on the team. I noted that while I appreciate Hendo’s hustle and leadership, I didn’t think he’d ever amount to even an ersatz Stevie G. It was the only time the entire trip anyone, let alone Nu, took a stern tone with me. He turned to face me from the front seat, ubiquitous smile wiped from his face, as he said in slow, methodical English, just to make sure I understood. 

“There is only one Steven Gerrard.”

Football and Thailand, you are both amazing. 

 

II. MiB Recommends

We’re starting a new newsletter feature in which Rog, Davo and the MiB staff will recommend crap we like. TV, Movies, Books, Music, Clothes, Food, Kitchen Appliances, Boxing Classes, etc. Think the BaldMart, but even more random. This is not a sponsored segment. It is just stuff we enjoy. We also want this to be a two-way conversation in which you also enlighten us on items, culture, food stuffs you’re enjoying. Email us HERE and holler, holler, holler on social using the hashtag #MiBRecommends. Next issue of the Raven, we’ll feature something GFOP-recommended that we loved as well as an in-house MiB selection. 

 
III. Patch At The Park 

This issue’s edition of #PatchAtThePark features submissions from GFOP @tunalicious’ Epic Opening Weekend Premier League Pilgrimage to Manchester United vs. Leicester Friday, Huddersfield vs. Chelsea Saturday, and Liverpool vs.West Ham Sunday. Bravo, @tunalicious. And among our favorite stateside submissions were this beauty from the Hudson River Derby at Yankee Stadium. But our favorite comes from @Amylovesoccer who cheered on the USWNT at the Tournament of Nations. Roll on, World Cup 2019.
 


 
IV. The People’s History of American Soccer Hall of Fame

Your amazing artifacts continue to pour into the CPOS for The People’s History of American Soccer Hall of Fame. This week's GFOP treasure is a collection of six issues of Soccer Digest from 1995, including everyone’s favorite May, featuring a very Lumbersexual Alexi Lalas. Flipping through these TV Guide-sized beauties is a reminder of just how far football coverage in this country has come. Thanks to GFOP Jared Skinner in Indiana for sending them in. Jared, a patch is on the way to you. 
 

Please keep sending the American soccer flotsam and jetsam that is gathering dust in your finished basements and attics with a note telling us about its meaning to you to. We are sending patches to everyone who contributes. Please post to:

Embassy Row Studios
Care of Men in Blazers
325 Hudson Street 7th Floor
New York, NY 10013
FINE READS

Kick It Out at 25: Progress Made But Lots Still To Do In Anti-Racism Fight. David Conn for The Guardian. READ HERE

Celebration GIFS and Elaborate Transfer Announcements: Roma, Bristol City and Clubs’ Increasing Innovative Use of Social Media. Mike Henson for The Set Pieces. READ HERE

Lucas Torreira, the Man From Fray Bentos, Can Beef up Arsenal’s Midfield. Amy Lawrence for The Guardian. READ HERE 
PODCAST

Live from the British Embassy in Washington, DC, Rog and Davo are joined by Premier League Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore, British Ambassador to the USA Sir Kim Darroch and World Cup Champions Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O'Hara. LISTEN HERE

“We should be careful / Of each other, we should be kind / While there is still time.”

Philip Larkin
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