Blowing Rock News’ International Soccer Day

Blowing Rock News’ International Soccer Day
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By David Rogers. August 3, 2014. CHARLOTTE, NC — There was something decidedly "foreign" about Saturday's Guinness International Champions Cup match between A C Milan and Liverpool at Bank of America Stadium.

Field level photographic images by Skip Sickler for Blowing Rock News.

Press box level photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.

Skip Sickler--14.8.02---9552For those whose primary exposure to the BofA Stadium environs is American gridiron football featuring the Carolina Panthers, the first thing you noticed missing were the teal, black and white colors.  

It might as well be a Liverpool home game.  Well over two hours before the professional soccer match's kickoff, Liverpool fans were lined up at a Mint Street concession across the street from the Stadium — 10 across and 40 deep — to buy Liverpool memorabilia, from signs and banners and t-shirts, to favorite player jerseys and seat cushions.

Skip Sickler--14.8.02---1231"You'll Never Walk Alone" was a song composed for the musical Carousel, but the most successful cover of the composition in the United Kingdom was released by Gerry and the Pacemakers in 1963.  It became the anthem of the Liverpool Football Club and is traditionally sung by the mostly red and white clad supporters of among England's most famous soccer clubs before every one of their games.

Skip Sickler--14.8.02---1585Liverpool is a western seaside city known in history for its participation in the Atlantic slave trade, the port of registry for the RMS Titanic, Guinness World Records recognition as the "World Capital City of Pop" (music), the Beatles, "Beat Music", and visits by authors Charles Dickens, Daniel Dafoe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Washington Irving.

Skip Sickler--14.8.02---1850And oh yes, they also have a football club. In American "gringo" language: a soccer team.

On this day, even though in America and a long way from the stony shores of the U.K., red and white colors dotted, no swamped the BofA Stadium landscape. In short, the Liverpool fans made sure that they lived up to their anthem in the eyes of the players on the field, who certainly did not "walk alone" Saturday night.  There was reported attendance of 69,000+ and only a handful of them were rooting for AC Milan.

Skip Sickler--14.8.02---9583For the provincial reporter, Saturday's post-game press conference was a study in frustration. Liverpool won the game, 2-0. We may have captured a digital image of the last Liverpool goal (our featured shot at the top) in the 89th minute (out of 90), but we were much less adept at capturing post game comments, even with a recording device.  

The AC Milan coach went first, responding in Italian to questions asked in Italian.  After passionate, two and three minute responses that surely detailed every tactical and strategic aspect of the boot-shaped nation's soccer failures on this night, anyway, the translater — in undecipherable English — summarized (we think) in about 10 seconds.

Skip Sickler--14.8.02---1683The Liverpool press conference was only slightly better. Manager Brendan Rogers was so soft-spoken he could hardly be heard, but the highly decorated Northern Ireland native reflected a gentle soul.  In answer to a question from Blowing Rock News about his perception of soccer's evolution in America, he noted the improving and enthusiastic fan support, the youth programs, and a growing popularity for professional soccer and improved U.S. play in international competition in saying that soccer in the USA is going down the right path, with a great future.

Skip Sickler--14.8.02---1285The play of an international soccer game was almost an afterthought compared to the fan response and enthusiasm.  Play was fast, featuring a lot of one-touch passing by both sides. A little surprising was the level of holding and body checking that players got away with.  It was a tough, physical match.  The players were not playing for the European Cup, but they were playing for real.

About The Author

As Editor and Publisher of Blowing Rock News, David Rogers has chosen a second professional career instead of retirement. For more than 35 years, he served in the financial services industry, principally in institutional equity research. He grew up in the oilfields north of Bakersfield, California and was a high school English major and honors student. From an economically disadvantaged family background, he worked his way through college (on grounds crew and in dining hall, as well as advertising sales for college newspapers), attending Johnston College at the University of Redlands, Claremont McKenna College, and California State University, Bakersfield. Other jobs to pay for college included a Teamsters Union job in South Central Los Angeles, a roustabout in the central California oilfields, and moving sprinkler pipe and hoeing weeds in the cotton fields west of Bakersfield. Rogers' financial services industry career took him from Bakersfield to La Jolla and San Diego, then to Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Newport Beach and Charlotte before arriving in the High Country in 2000 to take a volunteer position coaching the rugby team at Appalachian State University and write independent stock market research. He spent three years as a senior financial writer for a global financial PR firm with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Shanghai, Beijing, Tel Aviv, and Frankfort (Germany). Rogers is the author of "The 90% Solution: Higher Returns, Less Risk" (2006, John Wiley & Co., New York). He is married to wife Kim (Jenkins Realtors), and shares in the joy provided by her three grown children and five grandchildren.

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