Just got an interesting phone call. First a little explanation.
English soccer begins this weekend with the first matches for teams in what is now called ... well, I can't figure out the damn name, it's changed again this year. Suffice to say that among the clubs beginning their seasons tomorrow is Wrexham of English League One, which despite its name is the third division of English footie.
Despite my never having been to Wrexham, I have been following their exploits for ten years now, ever since a charming book by Pete Davies was released to American fans just before the 1994 World Cup here in the States. That book, Twenty-Two Foreigners in Funny Shorts, is long out of print, but it did a good job of getting Americans up to speed on the sport of soccer. Davies' method was to tell three stories at once: a history of the game through a look at previous World Cups, and a two-sided examination of the season being played as the book was written, one side examining international soccer during the year, the other an in-depth and personal study of the author's local club, which happened to be Wrexham. Wrexham plays in the English league despite being in Wales, which is another story in itself. Suffice to say I found the book very enjoyable, and began following the club from afar.
Over the last ten years, I've spent time running an email list for supporters of the club, and have a replica Wrexham jersey with my name on the back. Recently I received a Wrexham pennant that hangs in our front window ... a friend of Robin's married a man from Wrexham, and he very kindly sent me the flag as a gift.
OK, that's the explanation. Now the phone call. The Internet has obviously been a great help to me over the last decade as I tried to follow the team's ups and downs ... they've only appeared on American teevee once in all that time, so it's not like I've seen them play very often, but I could see how they did and chat with fans online. In recent years, Wrexham and most other clubs have increased their online presence with websites that feature live audio commentary of matches, video highlights, and the like. I've subscribed to these services in the past, but this year I was thinking of letting it go. There are a LOT of options for Americans who want to follow international soccer now ... even without using Pay-Per-View, I can watch several Premiership matches every week, for example. I wasn't listening to as many Wrexham matches online, because at the same time I could be watching Arsenal on my television. Also, the price for the services has gone up, and I spent most of my soccer money this year on season tickets for the troubled Earthquakes franchise.
But the phone call ... today I get a call (on my cell phone ... god knows how much this is gonna cost) from some lady who informs me that she's calling from the Wrexham Football Club! I'm a bit surprised that she's calling me halfway around the globe, but whatever, she's for real. She's asking me to renew my online subscription, and she'll even throw in two extra months for free!
Well, I can hardly say no ... so I've got 14 more months of exciting Wrexham football online. I have no idea what I have to pay to receive an overseas call on my cell phone ... any Verizon users out there know what this is gonna cost me? ... but it was so charming to hear from this woman that I couldn't resist.
Season starts tomorrow, 7 in the morning my time, the lads taking on Swindon Town. The club is in dire financial straits ... there may not be enough money to pay the players, the team may have to sell its grounds and move to a cheaper venue, but hope springs eternal, so I'll be up in the morning cheering on the Dragons. On you reds!