7
Feb

Trecker’s Travels: Weather, transit strikes paralyze London

LONDON

Welcome to England. Half the country is underwater, and the other half is stuck indoors. Deluged by gale force winds and soaking rains, and besieged in the capital by a series of transit strikes, London had the feeling  of a ghost town. It’s Ballard’s Drowned World.

The rain has been falling since last July and show no sights of letting up. It is no joke, even though the satirical magazine Private Eye went to street this week with a picture of a scuba diver on its cover and the tagline: “Environmental Minister Visits Somerset.” Brighton’s old west pier has collapsed under the waters and the south-west coast has suffered enormous damage. The rain tracks between London and Corwall at Dawlish, repeatedly referred to in that deliciously English manner as “one of the world’s great railway wonders,” is now kindling. The waves over Penzance dwarf those at Malibu.

Such things normally wouldn’t bother the City very much — but wait! A series of Tube strikes, have paralyzed much of the London’s subway system and forced everyone out of the stuffed hellholes of the Underground into the teeming mire. The strikes are over a so-called “modernization” plan, which in fact would close all the ticket offices and put a number of folks out of work. The administration’s rationale is indeed questionable, but the union’s cause was not helped when pictures of workers taking naps behind the glass at the ticket windows made the rounds on social media. That, and the fact that the roads around London were utterly impassible.

Now, the English do love a good complaint. There’s even ritual whingeing here: one of their cherished traditions is the so-called “question time” in Parliament whereupon men in rep ties bray at one another while their parties trade crude insults. This week, while the South drowned, the moaning was about the number of women on display in the Tory Party. This seems like a perfect one-two: miserable weather, miserable governance.

Yet the prevailing attitude here seems not one of complaint but of exhaustion. There’s not even much energy for the Olympics — a hot topic of conversation in the States, but merely something in the ether here. People seem to just want to get home and put the fire on, and who can blame them?

This has affected the football matches as well, with the lower league in particular feeling the pinch. The pitches are terrible — which isn’t unusual for this time of year — and that many of the games have been flooded out, which is. Reserve matches around the city were postponed, and the conference game up north at Kidderminster was called off. Teams have also been unable to travel to the games, while some places are quite literally underwater; others have been hit by buckled tracks and washed away roadbeds.

On my way out to Liverpool this morning, with 80 mph winds expected to sweep the capital, I passed a lonely greengrocer setting up his stall. His newspapers remained bound in plastic, and a bunnet of soaked local strawberries fetched a pound. The good news, according to him anyway, is that all this rain means better berries. That might be wishful thinking, but I got some. They weren’t half bad.

10
Dec

Winter wonderland delays Galatasaray-Juventus match

Hail. Sleet. Orange balls. Orange paint. All to no avail.

In a scene reminiscent of the famous “Snow Bowl” World Cup qualifer between the USA and Costa Rica earlier this year, UEFA was forced to abandon Tuesday’s Champions League match between Galatasaray and Juventus when hail and heavy snow forced the teams off the field.

Fans of the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles are allowed to jeer referee Pedro Proenca’s decision. This never would have happened in the NFL, right?

The game will now be played early Wednesday morning (live on FOXSoccer2GO at 8 am ET) after a severe hailstorm interrupted the winner-takes-all encounter in Istanbul. A statement published on the official UEFA Champions League Twitter account read:

"The #UCL fixture between @GalatasaraySK & @juventusfc has been abandoned after a snow storm caused the pitch to become unplayable. According to article 11.04 of the competition regulations, the remaining match time must be played either tomorrow or on a reserve date or other date set by the UEFA administration. A further UEFA update confirmed the fixture would resume on Wednesday afternoon at 1300CET (1200GMT)."

Check out this amazing time-lapse video of the events as they unfolded, and have a nice cup of cocoa.

23
Mar

USA players commemorate Costa Rica win with signed shovel

image

By now, you’ve all watched and read about the ridiculous snowstorm during USA’s 1-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Costa Rica on Friday night. To stamp their historic victory in soccer folklore, U.S. soccer posted a signed shovel by USA players on its Instagram account to commemorate their victory at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

The picture of the signed shovel was accompanied with the following message from U.S. soccer:

The entire #USMNT signed this shovel after the game tonight!”

Much to Costa Rica’s chagrin, the Central American team plans to file an official protest with FIFA following their loss to the United States under the snowstorm, which they labeled as an “embarrassment.”

On the bright side, the game was entertaining to watch.

6
Mar

Cue the Borat jokes, everybody!


Field conditions were comically bad over at a league match in Kazakhstan this week, so bad that one corner was completely under water.

However, as you can see the players still had to obey the laws of the game, and a routine corner kick instantly became a comedy routine:

First, #22 tries to sneak in the first ever underhand-corner-throw-in, before he gets chided by the ref. He then calls over his buddy for an ingenius 2-man indirect corner kick that surprisingly works rather well. Lastly, the ball ominously floats towards the same corner, which would’ve made this video 100 times better, but this time the ball takes a plunge before it reaches out of bounds!

Jagshemash!