The Bucket List, part two
2. Football: The Great Debate!
Welcome to the Headers & Volleys Bucket List. World football is a big place and sometimes there seems almost too much to see. In this series we will be looking at the top things to see and do, before you pop your clogs. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section below, or contact us here and we will feature the best entries on the site.
Ryan Leverton of SportsLeviathan.com continues his journey through his own Bucket List. Today he looks at something eminently achievable for every football fan – arguing and discussing the hot topics in football. From London to Vienna, here’s Ryan’s look at the great debate that is football.
Now I love football and I also love history, so I don’t find it too startling that on my birthday, October 26th, in 1863, the FA held its first meeting. A lot has changed since then; the national team has a foreign manager, football is the largest and most popular sport in the world and our league regularly attracts the interest of some of the richest men on the planet. However, if there was one thing that possibly should have remained constant in the succeeding 148 years, it’s that they should have continued their meetings at the pub – the place where people go talk about football. In order to instill some standardization, the FA was set up to ensure one set of rules was abided by and those people who lobbied the case of handling the ball were dismissed into the realms of a different shaped ball, condemned to a life of cauliflower ears and dwarf throwing. The point in case with this ‘must do’ item on our bucket list is really about debating football.
One day with a few mates, get up early, buy a load of papers, get a fry up and then chew the fat on the weekly footy stories, debate the day away developing arguments that hang on a thread of evidence and if someone disagrees, just repeat your point but a bit louder. Let the hours slip away while your own Sunday Supplement turns itself into your best XI selections, reasons why England won’t win the World Cup and normally a huge disagreement on something or other – more often whether or not Michael Carrick or Gareth Barry actually offers anything at all to a football team.
Here are my selections for the top three venues to engage in football debate.
1) The Freemason’s Arms, WC2. This is the pub that claims to be on the site where that original FA meeting happened. A meeting here is simple and can be an easy way to say you are reliving the origins of Football before your very eyes. There is however, a ‘but’…
2) Site number two is only 250 yards away and is the building on the actual site of the original Freemason’s tavern (where the FA meeting actually took place) on Great Queen Street. However you might be able to guess what stands their now; Freemasons’ Hall is the home of the United Grand Lodge of England, so I suggest you brush up on your funny handshakes and ritual ceremonies before storming in there chanting “Harry Redknapp for England”.
3) The third site is my personal favourite and inevitably the most expensive. Vienna. Granted it may not jump out to most of you as a football hotbed now, but the coffee houses of Vienna boast more tactical advancements than Arsene Wenger and Fergie combined. It was in these coffee houses where the great football thinkers would sit for hours debating tactics and formation. Jonathan Wilson writes in his excellent book ‘Inverting the pyramid’;
“While these meeting places were prevalent throughout Europe, nowhere did the culture of the coffee house catch on quite as strongly as in Austria.”
A sit down with your pals with this sort of nostalgia is an absolute ‘must do’. I suggest The Ring Café which was one of the most prominent venues as David Goldblatt explains in his book ‘The Ball is Round’;
“The Ring Café – originally the watering hole of the Viennese Cricketers – became the social centre for the city’s football scene. By all accounts the Ring Café was a place where those involved with the game gathered to discuss at length issues with the game both tactical and cultural, ironing out problems and finding resolutions in the informal setting of the coffee house.”
Coffee, Viennese women , lager and football – just a thought.
Coming up tomorrow: Ryan discusses Brazil – from Pele juggling a melon, the Jules Rimet trophy and of course, the awe inspiring Maracana. Click here to see the previous articles in the series and get in touch if you’d like to contribute.
Posted on 26/10/2011, in 4. The Bucket List and tagged Bucket List, coffee house, football, freemasons arms, freemasons hall, Sunday Supplement, The FA, The Ring Cafe, vienna. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.