Football via Rail (in the US)

The Challenge: Recreate a typical UK football weekend in the US using mass transit. The destination was Foxborough, Massachusetts for a New England Revolution versus Orlando City SC match.

The Route: Metro-Morth to Bridgeport; Amtrak to Route 128 in Massachusetts.

The Verdict: All the trains ran on or close to schedule. Amtrak is clean and the crew is friendly. The equipment is OLD and it’s the kind of old that means cleaning doesn’t really help. The passenger cars are dark, and the windows are shockingly small. It’s still pricey which means driving still represents the most affordable option (pity). My guess is Brightline has modern, well-lit cars (and stations). The stations serving Metro-North and Amtrak aren’t exactly Richmond and Waterloo but the station at Route 128 is interesting. Route 128 is at eastern tip of Dedham and Westwood in Massachusetts and therein lies the challenge. Many of these MLS stadiums are in the middle of nowhere and at mixed use facilities¹ so the last mile is a pain in the neck. I spent a king’s ransom using rideshare services to ferry between the station > hotel > and the “football” grounds. Hotel availability was also a challenge so proximity to Foxborough was also a challenge. The good news is Route 128 is close to a giant outdoor mall so food, etc. was within walking distance. And how American is a station that’s close to a giant outdoor mall versus cultural landmarks like museums and churches?

In a perfect world football venues are located within walking distance of the city centre and train terminus, but this is unrealistic (Breed idea notwithstanding) in the US. This was a good trip overall to satiate by footie craving but one I’m unlikely to try again without a hotel closer to Foxborough and/or the Brompton.

Disclaimer: I walked from Bournemouth to Poole NOT knowing local transit options SO it’s conceivable there was at least local rail options between Route 128 and Dedham.

Can We Cycle the “Last Mile”? (HT)
San Francisco Mayor London Breed floats idea of DEMOLISHING Westfield mall in crime-ridden downtown and replacing it with a sports stadium – as she brushes off city’s retail apocalypse because ‘a lot of people’ shop online (Daily Mail)

¹This is a subject for another post.

Weekend 572.0 (Civil War)

O, how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on princes’ favours!
There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
More pangs and fears than war or women have;
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.

—William Shakespeare
(From King Henry the Eighth)

(1) York vs Lancaster: The Gruesome Truth Behind The Wars Of The Roses (YouTube)

(2) YORK’S ‘TRAITOR’S GATE’: The story of Micklegate Bar (The Press)

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

It was tough getting flights back to JFK from São Paulo because of visibility related to the Canadian wildfires so some quick re-routing had us in Washington DC and then on an Amtrak to PA/NJ/NY/CT/MA. I’ve never been on the Acela, so this was a chance to compare it to train service in the UK. The train left on time from Union Station, and all stops in-between were on or close to schedule. The train wasn’t dirty, but the equipment is old. The Wi-Fi was great (never worked well in the UK on first-class services like GWR). The cafe car was clean, well-stocked, and the person behind the counter was friendly. The seats were comfortable too. My biggest criticism is with the age of the equipment. These cars must surely be nearing refurbishment. The Amtrak route(s) in the Northeast Corridor are profitable, but their financial house is in such shambles, that this equipment will probably remain in service well-beyond its recommended useful life. It’s probably still cheaper to fly but the advantage of trains remains station proximity to downtown metropolitan areas.

Football 2022/23: Final Whistle

There is only 1 unresolved outcome and I’m not talking about the FC Cup Final between Man U and City. Metz FC is waiting to learn whether or not they will be promoted to Ligue 1 after a match between Bordeaux and Rodez was suspended after an altercation between a fan/supporter and player (in this case a goal scorer). Bordeaux was trailing 1-0 in the first half and a loss would have confirmed promotion for Metz. The French Football Commission will meet on Monday to determine the fate of Bordeaux.

The Saints were relegated from the Premiere League weeks before the season ended after an uninspired and punchless loss to Fulham. My club is Southampton, so this entire campaign was like one long gut punch. The new owners, Sport Republic, were clueless, hapless, and flamboyantly reactionary in a campaign that saw three managerial changes. They started the campaign without a world-class forward / striker and an inexperienced keeper. They also jettisoned veteran talent on a club desperate for stability and made a heap of poor and panic signings. Also, like rats jumping from the deck of the Titanic, there were also executive departures throughout the season.

I saw them a couple of times at St. Mary’s this season, and they struggled mightily against Cambridge United who barely survived relegation from League One. The Saints will now join Norwich (Canaries), Sunderland, and Stoke City in the Championship League. Schedules will be published on June 22.

Other Highlights
The mighty shrimps of Morecambe FC were relegated from League One
Plymouth was promoted from League One to the Championship and are now in the same league as Southampton
Norwich finished mid-table in the Championship League
Cambridge and Oxford just missed relegation in League One
Exter finished mid-table in League One

2022/2023 Football Campaign (Abridged)
Russell Martin: Swansea City head coach’s move to Southampton held up over compensation (BBC)
Every word Southampton owners said on relegation, club plans and more (Daily Echo)