Sunday, 30 October 2011
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
Sunday, 23 October 2011
Friday, 21 October 2011
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
Sunday, 16 October 2011
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Monday, 10 October 2011
October 8th 2011 may not be remembered for any startling world events, sporting achievements or even celebrity weddings (Paul McCartney's third nuptials aside), but it did mark a very different Saturday for me.
Having ignored the previous evening's England match, I didn't seek out highlights or even reach for the papers for a match report of Wayne Rooney's latest debacle. Instead I sat myself down on the sofa and watched my first ever NHL game. But hold on a minute, I'm probably getting ahead of myself here - so here's some background on how I ended up snubbing our 'national game' for a sport I know very little about that takes place in a country that's thousands of miles away...
I've long been a football fan, or soccer to those of you reading on the other side of the Atlantic, but in recent years my love of the game has dwindled. With every passing year the Premier League becomes less about fans and community and more about money, money, money. As a Portsmouth fan I've seen how that can make and break a club and I've also seen that there's no way to success without massive overspending.
I have watched Portsmouth home and away more times than I'd like to admit over the last 10/15 years and I've steadily witnessed players becoming more and more disassociated with the clubs they represent. It's hardly surprising, how can the man on the street possibly relate to a teenager or young twenty-something earning £200,000 a week, especially when it costs £38 a time to go and watch them play. On top of that there is an extremely rich vein of corruption running through the game right to the top of the 'brains' that are supposed to be running it.
The prospect of watching another Premier League season contested between the three richest teams just did not appeal and with Portsmouth languishing back in the second tier I reached breaking point.
So I looked for something different - rugby has never interested me and cricket is out of season. That led me to look at American sports, I know little of any and any knowledge I do have is largely based on playing computer games. NFL has never really appealed and while I enjoyed a SF Giants game on a recent trip to California it just went on too long to be a realistic sport that I could watch regularly. That left basketball or ice hockey - there could be only one choice.
For some reason I've always liked the idea of following the NHL. I haven't watched an awful lot in the past other than the odd fight video on YouTube, but something drew me to it. I've got a basic understanding of the rules having played a lot of the demo of NHL '99 on a very old PC at a friend's house. I also like the speed of the game and of course the physical side which we don't see in too many sports over here.
Having chosen my sport I made the conscious decision to pick a team before the season started. Seeing as I won't be getting to any games in the flesh I figured it'd be easiest to pick one team to follow. I looked at the Washington Capitals and the Detroit Red Wings (the two teams that appeared in that NHL '99 demo), but the Capitals just weren't right and the Red Wings have way too much red in their kit for a Portsmouth fan to get behind. I eventually narrowed it down to the two cities that I've visited in North America that have franchises, the Vancouver Canucks or the LA Kings. From there it was an easy choice, I didn't particularly like LA while Vancouver remains one of the nicest cities I've been to. That and my brother lived there for a time so that gave it some extra pull.
So armed with my laptop and Wikipedia I settled down for the season opener against the Penguins and it was something of a solid start to my new found fandom. Despite being behind for much of the match the Canucks pulled out a 3-3 draw, going down in a shootout but still notching their first point of the season. I'm well aware that there are many terms and statistics I'm yet to get my head round but until now I'd never watched a match from beginning to end - it's a start!
So there you have it, I'm going to try and record my views on the season on this blog and through twitter and perhaps this disillusioned sports fan can find new love for a team who play their home games some 4,500 miles away.