Before this schmozzle proceeds, how's about a miniature biography of yer Honest Proprietor, filtered for football relevance, i.e., you won't have to read about any terrible, permanently scarring experiences endured when I were a youth.
I grew up in the not-so-wild wildlands of Montana—specifically, Missoula, a pacified college hamlet where conscientious parents began slicing orange wedges for their spawns' half-time refreshment sometime in the mid '70s. I made an inauspicious debut at half-back (that's what they called it then) for a U-7 team called The Mountaineers smack in the middle of Ron Reagan's first term. However, a tense international political situation forced me to abandon my nascent career on the pitch until the Cold War was safely won. The collapse of the NASL probably had something to do with that, as well.
Though dim memories of watching Mexico 86 somehow survive on my cerebral hard drive, it wasn't until Italia 90 that I again took serious notice of this strange game called "football" and actually played with the lower extremities. We all know that particular World Cup lives in infamy as a dire aesthetic low point, but all I remember is Cameroon, Gazza and the sweet mullets then in vogue. USA 94 provided a timely fresh infusion of the toxin; I even survived watching the entire final.
Then, Euro 96—Moscow—Guinness pints in the shadow of the Kremlin's glowing red stars—drunken Irish extra-nationals and tarted-up Russian mob molls—chanting Englishmen in Tverskaya Ulitsa—a true plunge into the frothy, salty bilge of the global game. You could say the boy was hooked. I've since made feeble efforts to get a chant going with six other dudes at a University of Montana women's game; been the only white guy in a pub full of Koreans watching Man U in Brisbane, Australia (?); stood on a 100-percent genuine English terrace, surrounded by Blackpool away supporters as pre-Premiership Fulham knocked 'Pool around mercilessly in the old Second Division; and spent far, far too much time pondering the prospects of our own Portland Timbers FC, pride and joy of the United Soccer Leagues First Division and the only half-decent football club between Los Angeles and Vancouver, BC.
I also developed a weakness for compound adjectives, m-dashes and run-on sentences. Sorry in advance.
In my so-called professional life as a journalist, I've wormed football into print at every half-chance. Witness the frail "local angle" on which I draped an interview with Sydney FC non-starter Alejandro Salazar. Or last summer's not-biased-in-the-least exploration of Timbers fandom. Or the arguably disproportionate amount of ink spilled over a Women's World Cup also-ran. Or any number of other bits of hackery foisted on the reading public over the years.
So there you have it. Some of it. It's going to be a great summer, despite this blog's best efforts.