I’m not the least bit Catholic, mind, but I’m all for Saints, the existence of Saints, the beatifications of Saints and the rest of (most of) the dross that goes along with, up to a certain point. It think it’s a good idea for the most part. It’s the closest that Western (so called) Civilization has to the local deities in Japan, for example. Now there ARE local deities everywhere….in England, in Ireland, in the USA! USA!! USA!! and all over the world. But most of them have been suppressed by the Saint’s minions and lackeys and other assorted camp followers like, say, nuns, priests, archbishops and so on. But you can’t really blame the Saints for all that. It’s just not fair.
Oh. I ought to mention that the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League is already starting its march to Milan and Basel respectively. So yes, it’s the pre-season, but for some of the big fish in the smaller and smallest of ponds like Faroe Islands, Andorra, San Marino, Gibraltar, and, yes, Wales for example, the new season has already begun.
I’m excited about the early days of the Champions League and Europa League. Obscure and irrelevant teams duking it out for hopelessness and misery in grim, mostly Eastern European shitholes is what the beautiful game is a about.
So when perusing the scorelines of the 1st Qualifying Rounds, I came across The New Saints and had to delve into that more deeply than simply knowing that The New Saints play in Wales.
Or so I thought.
The biggest and best teams in Wales don’t actually play in the Welsh leagues. Cardiff City just relegated back down to the Championship, and Swansea City who finished a respectable 8th place in the Premier League under new coach Gary Monk both play in England, as does Wales’ oldest football club ((and the 3rd oldest in the world)) Wrexham who ply their trade down in the Conference Premier, and Newport County who finished 9th in League Two this past season.
So the top tier of Welsh Football, the Welsh Premier League does naught feature the creme of the Welsh crop. But atop the table last season sat The New Saints, the only team from England to play in the Welsh leagues. The team’s full and proper name is The New Saints of Oswestry Town and Llannsantffraid Football Club. The play their games at Park Hall in Oswestry, Shropshire.
This past Wednesday they began their quest for Champions League glory at the Tórsvøllur in Torshavn, Faroe Islands in front of a mighty crowd of 1,050 fans. Over the past 10 years, The New Saints have made it to Europe each season. This will be with their 8th Champions League campaign. The farthest they made it was the 3rd round in the 2010-11 Championship where they were bounced 1-6 on aggregate to Belgian powerhouse Anderlecht.
So I’ll be pulling for The New Saints to go a wee bit further this season before they’re sent back to Shropshire to live on and fight another day.
Unlike the Shropshire Lad in Housman’s famous poem.
I wrote last time about how music vanishes once it’s played, and I noted it’s relevance to soccer and the Women’s World Cup. I wrote about that silence, after the music stops, and how it enveloped Canada despite Canada playing their best. England emerged victorious there, and moved on to face Japan.
But on Wednesday night, in Edmonton, it was Japan who emerged with the victory.
By all rights, England should have at least sent the game to overtime….and if they’d lost there off the run on play, or from a Mia Akiyama free kick, then fair play to Japan (who I was rooting for, btw).
But losing the match the way they did was like hearing an endless tape loop of the saddest music in the World ((and pity the match wasn’t played in Winnipeg 1 as that would have been more than apropos)).
Laura Bassett had played great defense all. And right up to the end she was stalwart. So the shame of it was that a hustle defensive play on her part went awry and into the let. 9 times out of 10, Bassett’s hustle play would have gone out for a corner.
Instead. It was back of the net. An own goal.
A memory that will last forever.
Unlike music, that vanishes once it’s played.
Show of hands. How many of y’all know where Moldova is?
If you guessed it’s somewhere over by the grim Easter European shitholes, then I’ll give ya one. But you buy the next round.
Anyway, the match poked it’s head out of Thursday’s Europa League 1st wound qualifying results.
Unlike you all, I actually do know where Moldova is. And I do know that Sheriff is a perennial qualifier for Europa or Champions league from Moldova’s 2nd largest city, Tiraspol. ((And yes, I know Moldova’s largest city, and capital, is Chișinău….see, I do know my grim Eastern European shitholes!))
Also, Sheriff has this cool logo which is stolen straight out of a cowboy movie.
But what struck me truth be told was Sheriff’s opponent on the day. Odd.
Yes, I thought the obvious thought. So….
Unlike Sheriff, who were founded in 1995, Odd, from Skien, Norway, was founded in 1894.
Nothing odd about Odd, though. They’ve won the Norwegian Football Cup more time than any other team in Norway.
Unusual, by all means. The longest headed goal ever scored in a football match was scored by Odd’s Jone Samuelson again Tromsø on September 25th, 2001. As measured by the Norwegian National police, he headed the ball 58.13 metres into Tromsø’s open net.
Anyway, I think it’s fair to say that Sheriff will not be be moving on to greater glory this year.
As for Odd, while their domestic record is peerless over the ages, their European jaunts have a way to go to top Ragnar’s!
The New Saints have had far more success in Europe. A pity they won’t meet.
But then again, just as well.
As I wrap this up, qualify for the Firecracker 400 at Daytona on Sunday is on hold due to the weather. I hope the weather breaks enough so they can get a proper qualifying session in.
Danica has a great set up as she won Happy Hour practice, so it would be a shame if qualifying was cancelled and the field set by owner points.
Then again, it’s no much where you start at Daytona….it’s….blah blah blah….y0u know the drill. The girl who crosses the finish line first wins.
I’m going with Danica to win. I’d put a fiver on that.
If not her, then Matt. And if not Matt, then Junior.
I will not accept any other finish.
As for me, I’ll be watching USA! USA!! USA!! win the Women’s World Cup, and then switching to the race.
You facking commies really ought to do the same.