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MIB is driven by a belief that Soccer is America’s Sport of the Future. As it has been since 1972.

Hail! GFOP

It. Is. Back. After an International Break that felt longer than the 116 years of the Hundred Years’ War, Premier League football returned awash in swagger and storylines. Yet, not everything was the same.  Many of the teams used the respite to write a plot twist into their initial narrative. Or as Heidi Montag would say it, “To Get Some Work Done.”
 
Case in point: Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United. In the first few weeks of the season, they were the weakling who had sand kicked in their face by every bully on the beach (Damn you, MK Dons). But while the world focused on the international game, United hit the weights, bench pressing with the fury of a young Charles Atlas in his slightly deranged, humiliate-me-no-more stage. They emerged with a new physique (and one beautiful head of hair) to reclaim the role of bully, and throttle an inept QPR 4-0 for the first Premier League win of Emperor Van Gaal’s reign.
 
While the Premier League’s return is paramount, it’s not the only reason there’s a Thickening in the Crap Part of SoHo. “The MEN IN BLAZERS SHOW” premieres Monday, Sept. 22 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, making us cousins of such NBC golden nuggets as “Taxi” and “Miami Vice.” Additional details on what promises to be a reliably suboptimal show are below.
 
In this newsletter:
  • An update on the Men in Blazers National Team’s potential matchup with The Mighty Gib
  • We weigh in on the age at which one should stop wearing replica kits
  • Three questions with Super Julie Foudy
  • Part II of Rog’s description of what each English newspaper stands for
To Tweed,
Rog @rogbennett
 
On behalf of
“Positve” Davo: @embassydavies 
MiB: @meninblazers
 

I. They Let Anyone on American Television Nowadays...

This week, NBC officially announced that “The MEN IN BLAZERS SHOW” will premiere Monday, Sept. 22 at 10 p.m. ET. You can read the details HERE. We are truly honored to have the chance to commune with Americans about football on such a sacred day, and share our love of the game through what Davo calls “the least technically ambitious show in the history of television.” While we’re excited for the show, we really can’t wait for the company holiday party when we get to meet Alf, Dana Plato and Ted Danson.
 

II. Fuji Cow!

The first thing we did upon signing a deal with NBC Sports was to work out a way to acquire the original signage from “The George Michael Sports Machine,” a show that represents to us all that is good about America, sports, and broadcasting. Today, we wrote a short piece about how much the late, great George Michael meant to us, and how we are honored to be on his network. You can read it HERE
  

 

III. Live From New York … It’s Friday Night

Tomorrow night, we will come together and commune with GFOPs in Midtown Manhattan for our MEN IN BLAZERS: NIGHT OF A 1000 STARS: A Celebration of FIFA 15, the invisible hand behind America's Love Affair with the Game we Love. We have a remarkable guest list, including a Chicago Bull whose Dad was one of our favorite tennis players, one of our favorite Jets since Joe Klecko retired, and a guy who is mates with a Liverpool owner. While the show is sold-out, we’d love to see all GFOPs for a post-show drink at Landsdowne Road Irish Pub (599 10th Ave.) at 9 p.m.
 
Proceeds from the evening will go towards Wounded Warrior Project.
 
P.S. If any of you have tickets for the show you cannot use, please let us know as there is a quite long waitlist of GFOPs.

 
IV. An Important Choice From a Blue Chipper

Signs of soccer establishing a foothold in America have been ubiquitous as of late: license plates, watch parties at Texas gun fairs, and talk of an FA Cup-style NBA tournament. But this week, we felt what could be a significant shift in the tectonic plates that underlie the American sports landscape. Drake Davis, a four-star American football recruit from Virginia stopped playing to concentrate on soccer. Whether it’s an aberration, or the beginning of a trend remains to be seen.  Drake Davis, we salute you.  

 
V. Epaulet Clothing Store

Rog writes: I embrace Fall for one reason: Tweed. In search of a new pair of tweed pants, I wandered to Epaulet on Orchard Street in New York City and found an array of pants and jackets, thoughtfully cut in a magical way. I cannot praise their taste highly enough. #ToTweed

 
VI. A GFOP’s Kit Question

GFOP Jeffrey Twiddy Asks: Brand SPANKING new EPL fan (Swansea's my team since my great-great-great-great-double great granny was Welsh) but I have a question regarding EPL decorum and/or etiquette (never can tell the two apart). When I purchase the authentic team jersey to wear around the house during games, is it acceptable to get the jersey with my own name on it, or should I choose a favorite player? Or maybe no name?? Thanks in advance.

Rog Writes: The answer to that question is so obvious (it HAS to be Jonjo) that I believe you want to ask us a different question but are too full of fear to utter the words: Till what age is it permissible to wear replica kits?  FULL KIT WANKER: Up till bar mitzvah age, no further. JUST THE JERSEY: Till 40 years of age. After that, according to my wife, a replica kit adds 10 years and 20 pounds to the wearer.

 
VII. Match with The Mighty Gib

Here at Men in Blazers, we believe Gibraltar is the Citizen Football Capital of the World. Any country that trots out an eleven featuring a policeman, a fireman and a shipping agent  is far more than a 2.5-square-mile rock that dangles off the Iberian Peninsula annoying the Spanish.
 
The Mighty Gib’s recent competitive international debut also served as a call to action for the dormant Men in Blazers National Team. Simply put, we LOVE Citizen Football. We promptly faxed the Gibraltar Football Association and requested a game. While we’ve yet to hear back from the Gib’s officials, we have received thousands of applications from GFOPs hoping to represent the Crap Part of SoHo. We’ve also received several kit suggestions, one of which will become a reality VERY soon. A few of our favorites are below.  Keep sending them.  We will make one very real.
 
                 

 
VIII. Coming to America

Just days after Frank Lampard signed with NYCFC in July, he sat down with us for an interview. He talked about plying his trade in America, European players’ evolving view of MLS, and that time Jose Mourinho told him he was the best player in the world … while he was butt naked in the shower. He was a genuinely lovely man. Davo still has The Thickening.  You can watch the interview on NYCFC’s YouTube page.  Thanks to GFOP Ian Hutchison for his mighty illustration.
 
 
 

IX. Three Questions

Back in the days when Michael Bradley had hair, Super Julie Foudy was the best box-to-box midfield general in America.  A player who could score, distribute, and do battle in the trenches, Foudy’s 17-year USWNT resume is littered with awards and accolades, including two World Cups and two Olympic Gold medals. When she finally hung up her boots, the Southern California native had amassed an eye-popping 271 caps and 45 goals for her country.
 
No longer patrolling the midfield, Super Julie focuses on parenthood, charity and broadcasting for myriad ESPN programs. This summer, we were fortunate enough to share our World Cup ecstasy, and eventual heartbreak, with her in Brazil.  We cannot say enough wonderful things about her as a human and a colleague.  In this edition of Three Questions, we talk with the footballer who will forever be known to us as “Super Julie Foudy.”
 
MiB: If you had to play a two-a-side game to save the world, who would you have alongside you and why? Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm or Abby Wambach?

Julie Foudy: Akers (if only she could still run). Akers can score, defend, beat people up, and will fight until all bones and appendages are left behind on field. I could jog beside her and pretend to do something, just like the old days.

MiB: We are in a bar, what are you drinking?

Julie Foudy: Depending on weather... If hot: beer with a lime, mojito or margarita. If cold: Any red that does not come out of a box with a spigot from my parents’ house. Or a bottle of Silver Oak.

MiB: You are multi-talented, Super Julie. Can you rank these in order of difficulty: broadcasting, playing in a World Cup, being a parent?
 
Julie Foudy: 1. Broadcasting  2. Parenting 3. Playing in a World Cup (if on turf, I'd bump to No. 1). I had a hard enough time playing sub-optimal soccer into my 30s. If they had added turf into the equation, my body would have staged an internal coup. Maybe you guys should start podding from the crap turf of Soho and see if FIFA certifies it.
 
MiB: A glut of new football fans were connected to the sport by Brazil 2014.  Can you tell them what they have to look forward to come Women’s World Cup, Canada 2015?
 
Julie Foudy: 1. A fun, frantic Canadian fan-base that still thinks Canadians got robbed at the Olympics by the U S  of A (quite possibly will even count out loud to 6 at you). 2. Hopefully a lot of crazy Americans loud and proud in Canada (as we saw in Brazil). And perhaps even some new cheers beyond I Believe (although a keeper, so don't send hate mail), thanks to our great American Outlaws. 3. A very good U.S. team eager to bring the World Cup back to the USA.

 
X. You Can’t Tell a Book by Its Cover, But You Can Tell English People by the Newspaper They Read (Part Two)

In the last issue of The Raven, GFOP Tyler Hunt asked us about the difference in perspective among English newspapers. Rog responded, saying that that you can always tell the English by the newspaper they carry. Their choice indicates pretty well all you need to know about a reader’s class, political outlook and ability to read words. In Part One, we wrote about the so-called quality papers. In Part Two, we take a look at some of the more sub-optimal papers circulating Britain.  

Daily Mail
Middle-aged, middle-class housewives who live in fear of rising house-prices and are easily scandalized by the poor, immigrants and “Gypsies.” Pet hates: Marijuana, welfare cheats, minorities, and all homosexuals, especially Elton John. Pet Loves: The Police, Mrs. Thatcher, talented pet stories, public floggings and George Clooney. Like to imbibe their news via short articles shorn of long words. Not bigoted, but firmly believe there is nothing wrong with the country that someone who could make the trains run on time could not put right.

Daily Express
Intolerant, easily outraged, and yet to recover from the trauma of Lady Diana’s death. Employ a steady diet of Gin and brash reality television to sedate themselves in the face of the terrorist threats to Britain’s shores. Find conspiracy theories everywhere. Easiest way to improve England in a single stroke? Ban Foreigners.

The Daily Mirror
Working class left-leaning manual worker whose great gift in life is wolf-whistlng at random women. Low IQ masks an impressive ability to pass off entire articles as their own opinions down at the pub later the same day. A really great night out typically starts at the greyhound track, segues into a bout of binge drinking, and spirals into committing random acts of violence.

The Sun
Working class conservative-leaning readers eager to read a gossip-soaked tabloid that cuts to the jugular whether the subject at hand is politics, soccer, or well-endowed topless babes. Beloved by lager louts who believe there is nothing wrong with the country that a prime minister with a big pair of breasts could not put right. Also popular among young media-types who savor the paper’s witty headlines as a guilty pleasure to accompany a traditional broadsheet like a cheap whisky chaser to a quality ale.

Socialist Worker
A weekly for young, marginalized radicals who believe that England still has a lot to learn from Laos. Acne-ridden Ferret-fanciers, high on idealism, low on deodorant. The minority who rioted in London for ideological reasons, not just to loot sneakers.

 
XI. A Poem To Gird Your Loins

This issue’s poem is beautifully composed examination of final days from the terminally ill Clive James. “Japanese Maple” was originally published in the Sept. 15 issue of The New Yorker. Thank you to GFOP Matt Hotz for the suggestion.
 
Japanese Maple
By Clive James
 
Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.
So slow a fading out brings no real pain.
Breath growing short
Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain
Of energy, but thought and sight remain:
 
Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see
So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls
On that small tree
And saturates your brick back garden walls,
So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?
 
Ever more lavish as the dusk descends
This glistening illuminates the air.
It never ends.
Whenever the rain comes it will be there,
Beyond my time, but now I take my share.
 
My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.
Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.
What I must do
Is live to see that. That will end the game
For me, though life continues all the same:
 
Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,
A final flood of colors will live on
As my mind dies,
Burned by my vision of a world that shone
So brightly at the last, and then was gone.

 
XII. Pod From the Past

With FIFA 15’s release just days away, this week’s Pod from the Past features a massive fan of the gaming franchise, who also happens to be hip-hop star. Canada’s own Drake joined us last September to talk all things FIFA, Premier League and Mario Balotelli. Listen to our Pod with Drake HERE.
 
Our entire pod archive is available here. If you prefer the Cliffs Notes version, check out "Men in Blazers. Unbuttoned: Now That's What I Call Sub-Optimal" on iTunes and Amazon. It's the least objectionable of our football "analysis," Ravens and interviews from the first four years.
 

Please forward this to your football curious friends. Let's see if we can bring them over to the dark side. The Ian Darke Side.
 

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

Philip Larkin


Podcast

In this week’s Pod, Rog and Davo revel in the Premier League's return. And Cleveland Browns punter, Spencer Lanning, joins MiB to talk about his "In The Face" encounter and Johnny Football's favorite football team.

Good Reads

> Football may be an international language, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for foreign players to acclimate to life in England. Amy Lawrence examines the cultural challenges facing international players, and the steps clubs now take to ease the transition, in this BBC story.
 
> In today’s Premier League, how a manager dresses is as important to public perception as his tactics. This piece from The Telegraph’s Ellie Piethers ranks all 20 Premier League managers by sense of style.  
 
> After a Portuguese professor bemoans life in Britain in his book “Bifes Mal Passados” (Translation: Undercooked Beef), The Guardian takes a look at other foreign writers’ unfavorable impressions of Blimey in this piece.  
About

Michael Davies and Roger Bennett believe that soccer is America’s Sport of the Future. As it has been since 1972. Visit MeninBlazers.com, “Like” us on Facebook, follow the show on Twitter and Instagram, or email us at MeninBlazers@gmail.com.
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