Do you think FIFA have any sense of the chaos and devastation their international breaks have on our fragile emotional psyches? The narrative of the Premier League has only just begun to unfurl itself so tantalizingly. The numbing excitement that is Transfer Deadline Day upped that ante considerably (Falcao! Welbeck! Purple Sex Toys
!) only for Sepp Blatter’s mob to step in and ruin it all.
Withdrawal symptoms are common: listlessness, shaky hands, insomnia, Saturday mornings sat dazed before a blank television screen in fugue state, on the off-chance the Two Robbies will make a guest appearance in Lazytown.
To be clear: We love the USMNT to our core and are trying not to become too overexcited by the 1-0 triumph against the Czech Republic [see our video analysis HERE
] which was, unhyperbolically, the greatest victory on Czech turf since the Battle of Austerlitz
Yet, like a Carpenters song, the Premier League has only just begun. The questions hang so heavy. Will the 3-man back line and a propensity to talk in the Third Person empower Louis Van Gaal to foster cultural change? How long will the Little Horse Placenta hold Diego Costa’s hamstring together? Was Stoke City a Manchester City blip? Brendan Rodgers: Trendy Vicar or Football Genius? Is a pair of chafed nipples all Danny Welbeck needs to turn his career around?
These questions throb all the more because the International Break has doomed the Premier League to a False Start.
Let us know how you plan to survive the weekend. Collective action is needed. Perhaps we should all agree to work on our relationships. With God's help we'll conquer this terrible affliction.
In this newsletter:
III. Three Questions with Ray Hudson
Ray Hudson is as unique a sports broadcaster as you will find. Listening to him call a game is like hearing a William Faulkner book on tape. You often have to stop at the end of a sentence and digest the words one at a time to understand their meaning. Calls like, “Trickier than a monkey up a monkey tree. Messi. Messi. Messi,”
have made the beIN SPORTS color man one of the most popular in the U.S.
While his Twitter profile
describes him as a “verbal gymnast,” Hudson is a footballer first. He learned the game in rough-and-tumble Tyneside before leaving Newcastle for the sunny shores of Florida, where he starred for the North American Soccer League’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers. He went on to coach in MLS for the Miami Fusion and D.C. United before turning to the booth full-time. In this week’s Three Questions
, Hudson makes time to talk about his style, spring break and Sid Waddell.
[Listen to Ray Hudson’s 2012 Interview with Men in Blazers]
What commentators did you study to prepare to enter broadcasting? Which broadcasters do you admire?
I stumbled in backwards into broadcasting, no preparation, no studying, no broadcast school, no college education, no experience, no former knowledge of a headset and didn’t know a producer from a director. Still don’t, honestly. The only commentator I've really admired is Sid Waddell
, the recently deceased genius of Darts commentary. I discovered Sid soon after getting into the commentary booth, and our delivery was very much cut from the same cloth. He was a pure Geordie and a proud Newcastle lad, coincidentally, and his authentic, very natural passion for his beloved game of Darts was a mirror image of my own for my game. He decorated and adorned a game verbally, didn’t just "report" the obvious, he enhanced the viewing experience in a wholly unique manner and amplified the drama with an emotional flair that didn’t just do the players and game justice, he pulled you into the competition and additionally, he entertained!!! There was no one like Sid before, there will never be another like him, ever.
You played for Newcastle before being loaned to Fort Lauderdale. Can you explain to our readers just how different Tyneside is from Sunny Florida?
I arrived in Fort Lauderdale as a 21 year old in 1977, when Fort Lauderdale Beach WAS Spring Break. Not only had I landed in a corner of Florida’s paradise but there were gorgeous, bikini clad American beauties everywhere. The lasses loved my accent and I was a virile blue-eyed blonde footballer … you do the math! I’d always dreamed of coming to America and flying around the greatest country in the world. To do it while playing football and getting paid nicely was beyond a dream come true. We played in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Hawaii, Las Vegas, on and on and I was playing with and against living legends, Gods of the Game, like Pele, Besty, Beckenbauer, Cruyff. Fort Lauderdale loved our team and we were winners. There was no way on God’s earth, I could leave and I didn’t. I return to Newcastle every year, sometimes twice a year and it is my vacation destination ahead of anywhere else. I was brought up in Newcastle and wore the black ‘n white stripes proudly but I grew up in Fort Lauderdale … my 2 favorite cities in the world.
What is your favorite restaurant and what are you drinking?
Favorite restaurant in Lauderdale is Casa D’Angelo
by a light year … I don’t know what the hell Angelo does to his Veal Parmigiana but it is magesteeeeerial! Been going there for decades and it is a can’t-miss place to eat if you ever come to town. At Angelos I have a Peroni but prefer Moretti … when I`m in company I`ll play the snob and drink wine but I`m a lager-lout at heart.
One, probably two new MLS teams are coming to Florida. Will MLS work in Florida this go around and why?
It’ll certainly work in Orlando, I’m pretty certain of that, but the Miami project is fraught with all sorts of minefields. In both areas it’ll be a big task to maintain, not launch, the clubs. I think the Orlando area is primed and has a lot going in its favor on a number of fronts and the whole movement has been tremendously well coordinated so those owners have gone about their business superbly. A South Florida club would be measurably more challenging and is proving to be, unfortunately. I’m not saying it couldn’t or wouldn’t work but every single target would have to be hit from day one and those targets are very elusive. Really, I could be writing from here ‘til tomorrow about those difficulties but everyone knows them. South Florida is a world apart from Central Florida but I’d love to see MLS back in Dade or Broward counties.
IV. The Great Escape
In last week’s Pod
, the passing of Lord Richard Attenborough prompted Rog and Davo to reminisce about one of their favorite films, “The Great Escape,”
in which Attenborough starred. GFOP Jack Preiss sent us this Raven in response:
“On the Great Escape, I had the startling experience in high school of taking out of the library the non fiction book that the film was based
on and seeing, for the first time in my life, my surname PREISS in print. Otto Preiss, was a SS officer carrying out the shootings of the RAF prisoners. I was crestfallen to see my surname so defamed in a book, raising the possibility of my relatives back in the Fatherland being war criminals. Thank god the German Americans today are making good by helping the US become a world football power.”
: We understand your pain Jack. For the longest time, I was confused with Roger Bennett, the late lamented gospel singer
. Davo was oft mistaken for Rabbi Michael Davies of South Carolina
. Both better men than we will ever be. Our advice. Ignore other Preisses, just like we have managed to block out the shadow of our namesakes. Walk the path of Whitney Houston’s philosophy when she advised, “I found the greatest love of all inside of me.”
V. Rog and Davo Doppelgangers
It started with deposed Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk
. Now, GFOPs are sending us Rog and Davo look-alikes from around the world. Thanks to all who’ve sent us someone resembling Rog or a Davo Doppelganger, especially GFOPs Bob Viegas, Miguel Vazquez and Steven Barrett for the below gems. Please continue to send.
VI. Emporium Choices
Thanks to GFOPs who click on the Men in Blazers Amazon page [HERE
] whenever they purchase ANYTHING from Amazon, which helps us staff up the show. This week’s choices: Clark’s Tanner Surf Chukka
from Rog. And a Callaway five hybrid
VII. NBA vs. EPL
Who would not buy one of these
? NBA jerseys re-imagined as soccer kits by Argentinian/Italian designer Emilio Sansolini. GFOP @MrBennyK gets the spotter’s badge for this. How long can it be until the EPL teams start to bring out limited edition Hockey jerseys?
VIII. A Musical Interlude
On this week’s pod
, we mentioned the first records both gents purchased as kids. Davo’s was The Beach Boys’ “20 Golden Greats.”
Rog’s was “Sounds of Silence”
by Simon and Garfunkel. He heartily recommends listening to “I AM A ROCK”
whenever your team suffers a heartfelt loss. The tune cannot erase pain, but it can make life feel like it is worth living again. Partially because of the Bouzouki solo, and partially because of the lyric “I have my books, and my poetry to protect me.” NB. Rog found out late in life this entire song was intended to be ironic.
IX. Fantasy Football Update
Another issue of The Raven, another shoutout to GFOP Evan Sadler, whose “Eric Dierwolves” sit atop the Men in Blazers Sub-Optimal Fantasy Football League for yet another week. Despite team Men in Blazers mid-table start (2,639 place), we’re loving your team names. Some of our favorites this week: Gaal & (c)oates; Dukes of Eden Hazard; CescDrogs&rock&roll.
It’s not too late to join our league. Just go HERE
, click “join private league,” and enter league code 422932-110181.
X. Men In Blazers Premier League Enhancement Kits
Thanks to all who ordered a Kit. The Kiln production has taken a little longer than we would have wanted and we are indebted to you for your patience. We have 100 left [AVAILABLE HERE
] -- you too can watch Rebecca Lowe while drinking your Guinness from a Davo mug.
XI. A Poem To Gird Your Loins
This week’s poem is for Swansea fans. We urge you to be more “Positive” than “Toilet” after the Swans best start in 91 years. #WelshPower
By Langston Hughes
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
XII. Pod from the Past
In honor of the USMNT’s return to action last night, this week’s Pod from the Past harkens back to a time before Julian Green’s first USMNT goal. Before European scouts coveted DeAndre Yedlin. Even before Kyle Beckerman established hair dominance over Raul Meireles
. We’re talking about our broadway-style celebration of the USMNT
just before they left for Brazil. Among the epic guests: Lalas, Ley, Meola, Sir Ian Darke, Beckerman and Judah Friedlander.
Our entire pod archive is available here
. If you prefer the CliffsNotes version, check out "Men in Blazers. Unbuttoned: Now That's What I Call Sub-Optimal" on iTunes
. It's the least objectionable of our football "analysis," Ravens and interviews from the first four years.
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.”