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HAIL! GFOP

I type with sad fingers that remain filled with hope. It’s World Kindness Day today. My youngest son Ozzie just informed me of that fact. He then added, “That’s a joke. There is no kindness in the world right now.” Bit of a dagger to accompany the morning coffee. A reminder of all the lessons about life our kids are learning as they watch our election aftermath. I cling on to optimism however, because of letters like the one we received this week from the mighty GFOP Will Joyce of Stillwater, Oklahoma. I reproduce it in its entirety because it is FANTASTIC:

Will writes: “I am the only known Evertonian in Stillwater, Oklahoma. It’s a lonely existence and was made worse a couple years back when the house two doors down was purchased by Kopites. Like, hardcore Kopites—with personalized “YNWA” license plates and Liverpool flags on the house and everything. 

We’ve exchanged friendly words, but haven’t been close. I considered inviting them over for this year’s Derby but couldn’t stand the possibility  of seeing them celebrate. I really should have been more welcoming...

See, I’m serving as Mayor of our city, and it’s been a rough year. There’s a small group of locals trying to kick me out of office because they oppose mask ordinances and public health precautions.

But I got a Facebook message from Mrs. Kopite this evening that they had left a gift on my porch. I found a heartfelt note of support and two personalized Everton mugs. This made me cry. 

Yes, sports are silly diversions most of the time, but the thoughtfulness of my neighbors was made that much clearer because of our rival fandoms. I’m sending this story to you, because I’m not sure my local Stillwegians would understand the significance.”
 

Rog writes: Will sent us this photo of the mugs. They are beautiful. His name underneath the Everton logo, and a Goodison Park street sign. A gesture of support and bonding through football that transcends sports. The kind of love and kindness the world needs more of right now. If you have experienced moments of human wonder like this that cut across fandom and rivalry, email them in to meninblazers AT Gmail DOT Com. We all feel better because of micro-kindness.

 
2. Men In Blazers Wandering Lonely As A Cloud 

i. Our DraftKings Sportsbook preview, includes thoughts on The Masters HERE. Come on Tommy Fleetwood You Beauty! We are incredibly grateful for our partnership with those bookmaking monarchs at DraftKings which has allowed us to grow our coverage. They are the Best King since John. Access its Sportsbook here. To celebrate this Sunday’s action, DraftKings Sportsbook is insuring your Sunday bets up to ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS when you use promo code MIB during sign-up.
 
ii. Pod with Davo HERE is a good one for Brodge and Roman fans.
 
iii. Our Icons video is HERE. It includes details of how you can gain 10% off Messi and Neymar signed merch to gift the football lover in your life this holiday period via the code MIB10. 
 
iv. We drop our Weekend Footballing Preview WGFOP the Bald this afternoon. Call in your questions always at (646) 450-9472
 
v. In honor of Veterans Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in the UK, we dropped this beautiful short about football and the First World War HERE. We are working on a large Second World War project right now. And are so grateful to all who served. Their selflessness and sacrifice inspires us.  


3. Arsene Wenger Book!!!

Arsene Wenger has released an autobiography, Arsene Wenger: My Life and Lessons in Red and White. It is extremely good. A football book unlike any other I have ever read. Those hoping to be regaled with stories of transfer sagas, locker room intrigue or tie-flicking confrontation with his legendary contemporaries, “Arsene Wenger’s kiss and tell tabloid diaries ” will be disappointed. But those looking for real insight into football philosophy and LIFE will be rewarded. This is full-on Wenger The Philosopher. The man I encountered when filming the forthcoming Wenger MiB Special. If you warm to the man, buy this book. Your life will be better for it.  

We have a signed copy of the book to give away. First GFOP to respond to THIS link will receive a signed copy.


4. To the Football

i. USA! USA! USA! Our USMNT are back. Yes, it was just a friendly, but after 285 days out, it felt seismic. A young, European-based Learner’s Permit XI took the field to play a 0-0 draw in Wales, handing debuts out to six players, including 17-year-old Gio Reyna, who followed his father, Claudio, and mother, Danielle, as U.S. Internationals. The first half was filled with a flickering wonder. An ambitious team played with width and attacking hunger. Tyler Adams demonstrated an unflappable confidence. Weston McKennie proved, yet again, that he is an excellent footballer. Sergiño Dest unfurled a karaoke performance of Tobin Heath’s Greatest Hits. There were a few too many flicks and nutmegs for a team that could not score, but most importantly, it seemed like our players were having fun together, which has not always been the case since October 2017. The second half was forgettable. Chemistry takes time to get at the international level, so let’s not freak out yet about 61% possession and one shot on goal, OK? The U.S. missed an effective striker. Josh Sargent, American Soccer Gritty, must have yearned to be on the field all the way from Bremen, where his club kept their players because of COVID-19 quarantine restrictions in place in Germany. 

The true joy: Watching 17-year-old Valencia Starlet Yunus Musah gave me more pleasure inside the first 45 minutes than I have had watching this team for the last three years since World Cup elimination. Technically and tactically so exciting to watch. Whatever we have to do as a nation to win him over, let’s do it.

ii. England: Maguire's power and Grealish's panache drive England past Republic of Ireland. I included this piece just because I love that headline. Also, Maguire's individual narrative is the only thing that changes more quickly than United's. 

b. England’s game against Iceland could be played in Albania because of a mutated strain of coronavirus found in Danish mink farms. A reminder, if we needed one, that International Football played out at a time of global pandemic is reckless.

c. Another day, and another serious injury to a Liverpool defender.  Joe Gomez out for six months after picking up a non-contact knee problem during England training. What is behind the rise in injuries this season? According to Premier Injuries, who compile a database of injuries in the top flight, there have been 103 muscle injuries in total over the first eight matchdays of this Premier League season, a 16% increase compared to the same period last year.  

iii. Scotland, Bonnie Scotland. Congratulations to all you Scottish fans. For 22 years you have waited to qualify for a major competition, “through the beers and the tears,” experiencing decades of slapstick failure, self-sabotage, unparalleled agony. Last night, the team qualified for the Euros via penalties. Cause for the Scottish National Team to re-make bleak Trainspotting memes.  

b. Please watch goal scorer Ryan Christie’s post-match interview. Tears of happiness are all that’s good about sports.

c. Do you want to see drunk shirtless footballers celebrating the feats of their goalkeeping hero David Marshall and glimpse what proper international team spirit looks like?

d. Cue shirtless dudes playing the pipes on top of a Starbucks. Scottish Football Twitter going to be the place to be this summer. Please let it be safe for people to attend, so they can send fans. And thank The Brodge. It was surely his tenure at Celtic which propelled the entirety of Scottish football towards glory. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

iv. Slightly sadder news for the Irish: Northern Ireland's Euro 2020 dreams shattered by Slovakia in extra time.😢 

v. If you like last second goals and Euro Glory, savor Hungary’s 92nd minute length-of-the-field counter-attack finished by RB Salazburg’s Szoboszlai that eliminated former-darlings Iceland (who have a good crop of U-18s coming through) and sent the Magyars into the Euros. 🇭🇺

vi. Here’s everything you need to know about Euro 2020. Like, it’s happening in 2021 for starters… 


5. More Football. More Life

i. The incredible cautionary tale of John Bostock. From 'wonderkid' with a Barcelona contract offer to 13 clubs in 13 years.

ii. Why are British Asians so under-represented in football? A new study suggests Racism and stereotyping.

iii. It’s Manchester Derby Weekend in FA WSL. Tobin Heath* and Christen Press against Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle. A game I asked Sam if she had ringed in red on her fridge calendar. She told me it was ringed in “City Sky Blue.” United are currently top of the table, scoring goals like this beauty. The game is live at 7.30 AM ET on NBCSN. On Sunday, Arsenal play Chelsea, 9.30 AM ET also on NBCSN.
*ex Portland Thorn Tobin Heath! 

b. Is the balance of power in women's football shifting between USA and Europe? A question which may be determined by the U.S. Soccer boardroom and the American courtroom.

iv. The story of the manager who joined the club that hates him most. Proof there is a thin line between love and hate. A line which is roughly as wide as three points. 

 

v. A moment of footballing wonder to make your day better: A defender scores a scissor kick rebound off of his own scissor kick shot.


6. A brand I love: Desmond & Dempsey

The days are wet and cold. The pandemic runs amok. I am leaving my studio less and less. And have, I realize, unconsciously begun to dress brighter and brighter in an effort to make myself and those around me laugh more. So I have fallen in love with this London-based pajama company, Desmond & Dempsey, who create one stunning print after another. I was just given this robe as a gift, and I never want to take it off. It makes me feel like Hugh Laurie in Night Manager without the arms-dealing downside. Huge respect to Desmond & Dempsey, who ship to America for free.


7. Non-Football and all the better for it

i. All Hail Leta Powell Drake. A legend of local Nebraskan broadcasting whose celebrity junket interviews from the 1980s went viral this week because… she is a boss who took no prisoners. This is the viral short which exploded this week. It will make your life better from the off - not just the tracksuit she is rocking, but her casual-in-celebrities-face style. If you like that, and you will, go down the wormhole of the Leta Powell Drake Vault. Time spent joyously. 

ii. A beautiful short film: Keep Calling. An unlikely couple overcome the loneliness and isolation we all feel. Lilian, 92, suffers from Parkinson's disease, sings at home alone and lonely. Michael, 45, joins a volunteer group phoning the elderly for company. The two learn to perform duets by phone. Find eight minutes to watch this. Your life will be better for it. 

iii. Concrete jungle: The Brutalist Buildings of Northern England in pictures. This is the world I grew up in. 
 
iv. SNL and Alex Trebek was one of the all-time great pairings, on par with chocolate and peanut butter, Saturday afternoons and sad naps, Brodge and his own reflection. An oral history of Celebrity Jeopardy from the SNL writer who invented it.
 
v. In exciting but creepy news of the week: Ticketmaster Plans to Check Your Vaccine Status for Concerts.
 
vi. Take comfort in the massively undeserved confidence of the Spanish art restorer, who lives tranquilly in the knowledge that nothing they do to a work of art will ever be as horrifying as the Madeira airport's Ronaldo sculpture.
 
vii. Great GQ interview with Keith Richards, where it is revealed, among other things, that the man believes Ugg Boots to be called "Uggies." Proof we either die a hero, or live long enough to wear bad shoes.
 
viii. Sixty years out from her famous walk up the school steps, American Hero Ruby Bridges is back to tell her own story, her experience as relevant as ever. 
 
ix. We are all Meadow Soprano trying to parallel park on the precipice of tragedy. (Sopranos finale spoilers in this one.)
 
x. An important investigation of the quiet smear campaign Netflix has been waging against Chicago. Chicago is the reason I moved to America. This injustice will not be tolerated. 
 
xi. In honor of Veterans Day, one of JW's favorite DMV musical acts, Secret Society, is hosting a virtual live show this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET with proceeds going to Easterseals, benefiting those with disabilities. CHECK IT OUT HERE.
 
xii. Three Songs with very different moods which have gotten me through this hell-week:
As Tradition by Maple Glider 
COMIN@ME by Ashwarya 
Lotta Love by Neil Young
 
That’s it for today. I leave you with an important letter I received from GFOP Rob Bowles. Rob writes: “I just finished listening to the 11/2 podcast and the toast to Tom Pellack who passed after a battle with stomach cancer. November is stomach cancer awareness month. Stomach cancer is not nearly as widely discussed as many other cancers. If caught early there is a good chance of survival, but due to a lack of awareness it is not caught as early as it should or could be. When caught in the later stages, survival is much less likely. My dear wife Sarah (age 35) has been battling stage 4 stomach cancer now for 16 months. She was just admitted to hospice last month when her options had dwindled. Her stomach was completely removed in January of this year and she has been striving to maintain adequate nutrition since that major surgery. Last November my mom got all of our families Stomach Cancer Awareness wristbands that I have worn religiously. Periwinkle is the color for stomach cancer awareness ribbons, which reminds me, as a spurs fan, of our 19/20 third kit. I wanted to reach out and ask you guys to take some time this month to help raise awareness so maybe one less person or family will have to suffer the premature death of a loved one. Thank you for bringing lightheartedness and football each week to my life. 

Rog writes: Rob and Sarah. I cannot imagine what you are going through together right now. I send you all of my love and wishes for strength. GFOPs. Please take a moment to read this. Your world will be all the better for it. Huge love to all. 
  
“We should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind   
While there is still time.

BE KIND.
Rog: @rogbennett 

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

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

Philip Larkin
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