16 April 2006

Fever Pitch

In the Summer of 1994, I was a graduate student at USM participating in the Austrian Studies and British Studies programs.

I was in Europe for two months. I saw the US lose to Brazil 1-0 on July 4 at a restaurant in Vienna.

About a week later, many of the people who were involved in the Austrian Studies program flew to London. I participated in classes. I did some research at the Public Record Office.

I also had some fun. I got to go to Scotland and see where my family came from.

I also got a chance to see some soccer friendlys. One of the professors at USM, Frank Glamser (on the left), encouraged a group of students to attend Makita Cup matches at at Highbury.

I enjoyed the atmosphere. I saw Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, and Napoli play. By the time the Makita Cup ended, I was a Gooner.

I've been following the Gunners ever since-- mostly via the Internet. Sometimes I get to see them play on one of the cable channels here in the US.

A few months later, a fellow grad student made me aware of Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch. I first read it either late in 1994 or early 1995.

I found it fascinating. I didn't know much about the club's history or what it felt like to be a fan of Arsenal. I still don't. Not having been brought up in the culture of soccer. I know, I know-- it's football, but I'm an American, so we're stubborn like this.

I've been happy when Arsenal won the Premier League. I was sad when the Gunners lost the Cup Winners Cup in 1995.

I'm rooting for Arsenal in their matches against Villareal. I also hope they get to fourth place in the league-- knocking out Spurs. I don't see back-to-back Champions League wins by English clubs.

Some eleven years after I first read Fever Pitch, I reread it. When I first read it, I had no idea who Nick Hornby was. He's a little bit better known now.

Still when most Americans think of Fever Pitch, they think of the baseball movie.

Now that I know a little bit more about the history of Arsenal, I've gotten to appreciate it a little bit more. I've not had a chance to go back to London since 1994. I won't see a match at Highbury before it closes for good. I'd like to get a jersey. I'll need to buy one.

Someday. Again. Perhaps at Emirates someday.


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