English Fairy Tale: Football?

No need to try to explain America's obsession with the recent Royal Wedding. It's something that couldn't happen in America. No royals; hence no royals to marry a commoner. CNN quoted a woman watching the wedding from Georgia, "It's sort of like a fairy tale, an escape from ordinary life for a while."

No wonder as this American is learning about English soccer, I'm feeling as if I'm seeing fairy tales play out.
This kind of stuff just can't happen in ordinary American pro-sport life. The Bridgeport Bluefish would NEVER play the New York Yankees. Sure, individuals can move up through leagues, but not usually entire teams. Okay so that's baseball.
But even just looking at soccer, the English football league system and the American soccer league pyramid operate very differently.

So here is the fairy tale I'm watching right now play out as I understand it.
AFC Wimbledon is in a position where it could possibly move up into Football League Two.
I'll have to take a step back.
Once upon a time there was a team called Wimbledon FC. Over the years it worked it's way up through the league system, even beating Liverpool in 1988 to become FA Cup champs. Then came the day they needed a new stadium and were to move 56-miles away from Wimbledon to Milton Keynes. (Wimbledon FC is now known as the Milton Keynes Dons.)
Some fans were outraged! How could their local team move so far away? So they started up their own club and held tryouts in Wimbledon Common for anyone who wanted to play. That club became AFC Wimbledon in 2002.
Here is what as an American I struggle to understand: somehow the new team was allowed in the system and has been promoted through the leagues.

If AFC Wimbledon wins the matches it needs to this month and moves up to League Two, it will be only one league behind the MILTON KEYNES DONS, currently in League One! (Here is an article about AFC Wimbledon in today's Evening Standard.)

Imagine starting from scratch: from anyone trying out on a commons, to possibly going all the way to the top.
It's a fairy tale I'm told is quite common in the game known as Football.

Understanding this (or at the verge of trying to understand the complexities of Football) I now realize why my British-life long football fan-husband kept questioning me about my loyalty to sports teams.

Born in Houston, Texas, I was a Houston Oilers Football fan. I have pictures of me in pigtails wearing a light blue "Luv Ya Blue" blue with the number 7 on the back for quarterback Dan Pastorini.

He asked, when the Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee in the 1990's, what did the fans do?
My answer- uh, well I wasn't going to become a Tennessee fan- Tennessee is more than 800 miles from Houston! I had moved to Dallas and was working in the media there covering the Dallas Cowboys and so... erm... maybe picked up a liking to "America's Team."

Plus I had moved to New York long before Houston was brought it's new team, the Houston Texans. (I still can't figure out how that system works, but it was created from players already in the NFL and it's draft picks all from colleges.)

At least in learning about Football, I'm starting to understand American sports better. I've always enjoyed sports, the history behind the teams, and cheered for my favorite players. And I will continue!
As a plus, it now seems by having hope for AFC Wimbledon, I'm enjoying sport on the level of living out real life fairy tales- even if it's only because the stories aren't the ordinary  tales I'm used to reporting.

Happy Cinco de Mayo from London

(Originally posted May 5, 2011 NYPC blog)

Salud! to all of you who've asked whether I would be able to find good MEXICAN FOOD in London.

Actually, it wasn't that difficult and was one of the first things I stumbled upon.
However, using any excuse -- anytime, anywhere --to enjoy a good taco or Margarita, I had to revisit my first London Mexican find in honor of Cinco de Mayo, Tacubas.
The sign outside made no mention of Cinco de Mayo, just that it was Happy Hour. As I was brought a menu I asked if there were any plans of celebrating Cinco de Mayo.
He said, no, it's not something they really celebrate in Mexico, more in America.
I said I just had to ask since I was American. Actually originally from Texas-eventually making the point Mexican food was my American food.
He smiled.

Sure, the celebration in America is consumerism, but it's also a recognition of culture and heritage. People of all backgrounds join in to celebrate just as we do on St. Patrick's Day or Chinese New Year or at a Puerto Rican Day parade.

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Battle of Puebla over French forces in 1862. It's a story of a small Mexican army defeating a mighty French force more than double it's size.
Read more on Cinco de Mayo here.
Click here for my favorite Mexican restaurants in New York City.

Cinco de Mayo is a National Holiday in Mexico, but the big patriotic celebration is Mexican Independence Day, September 16th. On the night of September 15, 1810, a Mexican priest rallied the people to fight against Spain. The next day, the fight for independence began. It was an 11-year-battle with victory finally in 1821.

I'll have to return to Tacubas to see if they celebrate in September. The front of the menu mentions Mexico's Aztec Warrior history.
It was in the year 1500 when Spain conquered Mexico- forcing many of the native Mexicans, Mayas and Aztecs into slavery. Independence Day didn't come for more than 300 years.

Now that I'm living in London, I'm starting to learn about culture here and national pride. Football, of course is rooted in history, and so it was interesting when researching Aztec Warriors to find an ad likening football to tribal times. The ad features Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez - who was just last year the first Mexican signed to Manchester United.
I will definitely be watching Chicharito play- as Manchester United is a big rival to my husband's lifelong passion- Chelsea. The two clubs are set face off this weekend in an important match.
Ay-Yi-Yi! Maybe I'll have to cheer with a cider instead of a margarita.