Ode to a new season

onenil.gifIf you can hear pint glasses clinking, see scarves waving and hear the drunken warble of a soccer fan in your local pub, then you know the English Premiership season has started. One of my favorite places to go during the season is Ginger’s Ale House on Chicago’s north side and for good reason. The food is cheap, the fans are rowdy and it’s not Fado’s.

This year, five games in already, is proving to be one hell of an interesting year. Gone from the English continent is Beckham, while U.S. National Team Captain Claudio Reyna is back, albeit for Manchester City instead of the relegated Sunderland. Perennial Arsenal favorite David Seaman is still in goal, but for City instead of Arsenal. Even first division Millwall is accepting away fans at their stadium after a lengthy drought at the club’s hooligan-ridden home. And Chelsea have bought everybody, even trying to lure Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson away from the Red Devils at the start of the season.

Already, Arsenal has established its dominance at the top of the table, a point ahead of Manchester United and strangely enough, only a few points clear of the promoted Portsmouth.
But rather than concentrate on the tables and statistics this early in the season, it’s a lot more fun just to watch and say, “Well, bugger all!”

The best part of any new sporting season, whether it is footie, American football, Rugby or even cricket, is the beginning. The teams are fresh, the youth talent still has something to prove and potential giant killers lie in wait before almost every game. Hooligans are trying on the latest fashions, fans are buying the newest club kit and beer sales all across England are sky rocketing.

The pub. The glorious pub. I’ve been known to imbibe a bit, but what is truly great about watching the games at, say, Ginger’s Ale House (which recently garnered a quick promo from Fire commentators Kenny Stern and Jack Edwards), is being able to watch the games drunk. Not that alcohol plays a great part in having fun for many of us rally-minded folk [Ha! –ed], but there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on when I’m watching Wolverhampton lose while enjoying a beer I can’t really afford.

Maybe it’s the fact that last year, I met a guy at the bar and began taking, He was an Arsenal fan like myself and after going through the regular sizing up via randomly placed trivial references, I found out he was a philosophy teacher. Now, I, ahem, studied philosophy for a number of years and as we got drunker and more, shall we say, philosophical, he pulled out a stack of papers he had to grade. We went trough them one by one and graded them, burying the pretenders and praising the students who could get their heads around the material like true drunk bastards. As the game wrapped up and the tab sat on the bar, we parted ways and I’ve gone there ever since.

Though some of the other nights I’ve been there haven’t been nearly as interesting, I have always loved the atmosphere. And the beer is fabulous. Magner’s on ice is something truly special. Even after the fourth one. Especially after the fourth one.

Manchester United and Arsenal will face each other for the first time this season this Sunday and I’ll be at GingerIs, drinking, eating and cheering one of the greatest teams–the Ginger’s wait staff.