The real-life tales of a football writer
From Heston Services to Barcelona – where I spend most of my time – via a
£50 taxi to Gatwick airport. I bumped into Liam Austin on the Easyjet, a 26-year-old Australian who used to play for
Sydney United in Australia’s National Soccer
League. He now lives in Barcelona and is the main striker for The Celtic
Cross, a rival team of ours in the Barcelona International Football League.
Since 2006 I’ve run a team called ‘Manchester La Fianna’. Manchester United sorted us out with kits and La Fianna is the name of the bar which sponsors
us. Our squad is made up of players from 13 different countries, ranging from
the 37-year-old former captain of the Belize national team, to a
couple of hopeful young West Africans who are hoping to get legal papers to live in Spain.
Our captain is Hans Vandamme, a 24-year-old Belgian who represented his country at U16 and U18 level and was a professional with
Anderlecht for two years. Barcelona seems to attract footballers who want a change of scene and I do my utmost to
attract the best ones, after first explaining to them that they won’t be
receiving a penny to play for us.
We do alright – 4th out of 24th in our first season and we’re flying this year – but I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew this week. Without a league fixture, I’ve accepted an
invitation to play against Strommen IF, a Norwegian third division team. They're finalising their pre-season plans with a
tour of Spain. We have a chain smoking 42-year-old Glaswegian centre-half.
At 34, I’m no Lionel Messi and I’m considering dropping myself from right-back to the bench tomorrow as I’ve not trained properly this week. Strommen’s
website shows pictures of
hundreds of fans with flags and flares, we have 10 or so girls who watch us
because they fancy Hans.
Don't think we're not taking this seriously though. I’ve put the word around for
more support and 23 players have declared themselves fit for
selection. High-flying Espanyol have let us use their training ground for the match
and I had Strommen, who are staying up the coast in Lloret de Mar, scouted last night. I’ll let you know how we do on Monday.
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