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HAIL! GFOP

I type with fingers revelling in the creativity of football fandom. I fell down an incredible wormhole of content that will stir your soul: A BBC Scotland series entitled “A View from the Terraces” in which Scottish bands (a source of music I have revelled in since hearing Atzec Camera as a kid) sing stunning renditions of terrace anthems. Start here with Beta Waves performing the Dundee song “The New Johnnie Scobie at the iconic Clep Bar” (sample lyric: “so we had a dram, and another dram.”) Gavin Prentice’s rendition of “Rovers Around My Neck,” “a passionate, punchy ode to Albion Rovers, the team with two names” is a haunting ode to the melancholy and hope that is football fandom. Pour yourself a beer and a scotch before you revel in Idlewild’s cover of the Dundee United tribute to their old keeper, “Hamish the Goalie.” It is James Taylor-level dark human beauty. We need to establish the American version of this…

I also adored this Twitter essay by @CaddysWmc in which he rates Current Premier league managers as “yer step dad." It is a brilliant act of imagination and wonder. Take Sean Dyche “Cons: Tries to assert his dominance in the house and goes mental over the smallest thing. Has zero banter and dominates the telly remote (let's you know he's the one paying for Sky) Pros: Not averse to getting a takeaway in on the weekend” or Steve Bruce: “Cons: A little bit on the older side, & a bit of a disciplinarian around the gaff but consistent with this & generally fair. Pros: top level of banter for an old bloke & loves a chippy tea. Happy to share a few cans with you too on the weekend.” His Brodge is Chef’s Kiss.

Taken together, these projects are a reminder of the joy of football. It is a platform for emotion. For joy, reflection, creativity, flights of fantasy, and release. All of which are in remarkably short supply right now. May we all continue to savor it, process it and create with it. 


2. Slightly less Creative: Men In Blazers is BACK

Men In Blazers AT HOME television show returns Monday, July 6 at 5:30 p.m. ET. It is a loaded show. John Oliver joins us to marvel at Liverpool’s title season and Jurgen Klopp’s empathetic leadership. And Virgil van Dijk joins us to break down the important talking points from the campaign, including Klopp’s dancing. We taped with him in the early hours of yesterday morning, and he was majestic. 

ii. WGFOP: The Bald’s 4th of July Ep drops TODAY. Call in all your questions 646 450 9472.


3. To the Football

Whisper, but don’t shout it: Manchester United are looking fantastic. Fanless football suits them. Yesterday they cruised past Brighton 3-0. The news is all great. A clean sheet. Pogba and Bruno Fernandes can play together. Pogba actually set up the Portuguese’s first goal, selflessly deferring to his midfield partner. Mason Greenwood is also at the heart of much of all that is good. Take the third goal. A sweeping counter. Matic to Greenwood to Bruno. Like Rooney-Ronaldo-Tevez-era stuff. Let the optimism surge: “Bruno Fernandes insists Manchester United can achieve Euro vision.” 

B. Chelsea play at cannon fodder West Ham today at 3.15 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Brace yourself: Our Lord and Savior Christian Pulisic might be injured again. Lampard revealed Hershey Jesus had “a tightness in his calf when he came off at Leicester, which we're managing. It feels better than it did but we'll see tomorrow.” “He scores when he’s fit, he scores when he’s fit, Christian Pulisic, he scores when he’s fit.”

C.  Your Liverpool story of the Day. Lovely piece in which Jurgen Klopp looks ahead to Thursday’s City rumble, next season’s title defence on short notice, and his philosophy of life: “I am a good lesson that life goes on after losing.” 

D. At the other end of the table, Pray for the Cherries. Bournemouth play Newcastle today and they are reeling. This feature on Eddie Howe’s suffering makes you feel his agony. The pain of impotence. 

E. It is a tribute to the quality of the Premier League since its return that the issue of the games being fanless has faded from topline debate, and it is the quality of the football that has largely carried the narrative. The games, however, are surreal, as this photo essay by Guardian photographer Tom Jenkins captures, shooting matches in empty grounds amid strict Covid-19 precautions. 

F. Two American football teams making content that is wonderful. At Men In Blazers, we have long revered Oakland Roots for their mission-driven approach to football. They are living proof that a small club can make a loud noise for the most human, wonderful of reasons. Yesterday, they became the first American team to join @CommonGoalOrg in donating one percent of all ticket revenue and salaries to unite the global football community in tackling the greatest social challenges of our time. May many more follow their example. 

This video by the NWSL’s OL Reign blew me away. Please watch it to the end and share it.

G. The first round of NWSL's Challenge Cup games are complete. Yesterday saw Utah Royals debutant Tziarra King - a first round draft pick out of NC State - head home a late equalizer as the tournament hosts rallied to draw Houston 3 - 3. Houston had gone up behind a brace from the Lioness star Rachel Daly (She scores with her left. She scores with her right. Our girl Rachel Daly, makes Harry Kane look... just all right). And the late game saw a good ol' fashioned pitchers duel between Sky Blue FC's Canadian Keeper Kailen Sheridan and OL Reign's Casey Murphy. A series of tasty saves from each kept it 0 - 0. The competition rolls on today with two seismic matchups. Portland vs. Chicago. 12:30 p.m. ET. And the North Carolina Courage vs. the Washington Spirit at 10 p.m. ET. Both those games are on CBS All Access. 

H. Long time GFOP Patricia Zengerle sent in this follow-up to yesterday’s Celebration of World Cup 1950’s shock USA 1 England 0. She wrote, “thanks for remembering Joe Gaetjens in today’s newsletter, but the rest of his story is compelling, and tragic. Here’s a story I wrote (including comments from Walter Bahr) many years ago.” May his memory never be forgotten.

I. Lionel Messi scored his 700th career goal yesterday. Of course it was a panenka penalty against the world’s best goalkeeper. Our mate Ray Hudson poetically described it as “soft as a slug’s beer belly.” We should never take it for granted that we were alive to watch Messi play.


4. Fantastic Glimpses of the Real World
 
i. Reading Anti-Racist Nonfiction Is a Start. But Don’t Underestimate the Power of Black Fiction.
 
ii. I revere George Orwell. Down and Out in Paris and London gave me incredible direction when I was a kid and shaped the early part of my life, so I found this fascinating: What’s Really Orwellian About Our Global Black Lives Matter Moment. Orwell was haunted by his years as a police officer in colonial Burma. His later writings shed light on today’s protests. 

iii. How traditional Irish dancing found new life on Tik Tok. I could not love this more. I find Irish dancing mesmerizing. One of my life regrets. I never learned how to do a Rising Step. This is actually very impressive. 

iv. A New Archive Digitizes More Than a Century of Black American Funeral Programs. A magnificent new initiative by the Georgia Public Library Service archiving some 3,348 programs from funerals of Black Americans who died to form a compendium of photos, prayers, and guest signatures that span the pre–Civil War South to the present day.  

v. I went to the movies during a pandemic. Here’s what it was like. I am a cinephile. But Nope. 


That is it for today. As a last word, I am currently feasting on Hulu’s “Dave.” It is brilliantly written, so distinctive and humanly self-aware, I  could not love it more. Lil Dicky is a genius. Proper funny. GaTa needs his own series, and Christine Ko is also immense. All of which to say, please watch Episode Six. It is the most beautiful piece of television I have seen in a long time. Heartfelt. Brave. And the end just comes out of nowhere and makes you feel absolutely everything. 

“You ain't heard of Lil Dave, Yung L the Jew biz major?
Fuck you know about the world he raised in?
I've been savin' money since a motherfucker thirteen
I wear the same pair of jeans everyday (It's true)
Free sandwiches, homie, two stamps away (It's true)
Book flight December but I leave in May (I do)
Drugs are generic but still work the same
I get logins for Netflix from my cousin Greg (Thanks Greg!)”
"Save Dat Money" - Lil’ Dicky 

Wear a mask
Wear a mask
Wear a mask
Keep Couraging.
Rog: @rogbennett 

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

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