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.

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)

Southampton Saints FC Relegation Day

My BEST #SaintsFC tweet of 2023. Complete 2023 football campaign washup as soon as the season is done and dusted.

Update: The Saints were relegated after a 2-0 loss to Fulham.

2022: Year-in-review

A couple of paragraphs to close out 2022. This is the year I said goodbye to London and put an exclamation point on Kingdom Hearts. I spent a night in Gettysburg and a couple more in Paris. I crossed the English Channel via the Eurostar. I read the Brothers York and Faith of Our Fathers. I saw the Wilton Diptych at the British Museum and watched the Southampton Saints WIN under the lights against the Norwich Canaries. I tracked down stained-glass in Hereford from a Christmas card given to my mom and dad by our parish priest. I hiked to Towton, outside York, to visit a battlefield that was pivotal in the War of the Roses. I toured all of the northern cathedrals- York, Durham, and Lincoln. I also travelled to the very edge of Empire for a weekend in Penzance and Lands End. There were a couple of more Saints matches, including a memorable one in Cambridge for the Carabao Cup. There were three Championship League matches in Stoke, Norwich, and Sunderland. I hosted my brother in the spring and we went to Southampton, London, and Ramsgate. I also caught Football: Designing the Beautiful Game at the Design Museum before it closed.

My last couple of weekend trips in England were to Coventry, Exeter, and Bath. One of the highlights of the year was mass at the Cathedral Church St John the Baptist in Norwich.

My BIG birthday was at PNC Arena to see my beloved NY Islanders put a hurt on the Hartford Whalers Carolina Hurricanes and I was at the Bridgeport Islanders home opener. I also went to a Bridgeport Islanders game to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the NY Islanders.

Thames River Ride (1986) by Harper Goff. Scan is from The Art of Walt Disney World Resort

Weekend 550.0

“I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” 1 Tm 2:1-8

I left London on Friday night to avoid any of the madness attached to ceremonies for HRM Queen Elizabeth II. I was in Exeter on Saturday for football and Bath on Monday for ambling. Mass on Sunday was at Sacred Heart (Exeter). Before the match there was a minute of silence for HRM Queen Elizabeth II, and the crowd sang God Save the King.

All trains were disrupted (see link below) in and out of Paddington today so there was a scramble at Reading to make trains bound for Waterloo.

(1) Mourners resort to watching the funeral on phones as rail journeys are disrupted by damaged wires (ITV)

(2) Prayer for the Repose of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Almighty God,
You are the author and sustainer of all human life;
grant that your servant Elizabeth our Queen,
whom you granted a long and happy reign as Monarch of these lands,
may be forgiven her sins and rewarded with that eternal life
promised to all those born again
in the water of baptism and power of your Spirit.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen.
May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Source: This Week in Westminster Cathedral, 18 SEPTEMBER 2022, 25th WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

London Station Group (Collect ‘Em All)
2022/2023 Football Campaign (Abridged)

Weekend 548.0

Apologies for the radio silence. I was in Sunderland and Norwich the last couple of weekends for football. I saw matches at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland and Carrow Road in Norwich.

I saw the Canaries play away and home fixtures. Josh Sargent looks like a good footballer. He had a goal (and assist) yesterday in the match against Coventry. Some football sites don’t have him making the WC 2022 roster and Berhalter would be NUTS not giving him a serious look given his recent form. Mass in Norwich was at the Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist. I love Westminster Cathedral (not Abbey), but St John is a proper cathedral built in the late 1880s after The Catholic Relief Act in 1829 that rivals those robbed during the Dissolution/Reformation. It was modelled after medieval churches of the Early English period (1189-1307). My favorite feature were the windows in the Walsingham Chapel. The windows show the Archbishop of Westminster visiting Walsingham in 1934 to celebrate the site becoming the national Shrine of Our Lady (for the first time since the Reformation).

“It became obvious why Catholics had built such beautiful cathedrals and churches throughout the world. Not as gathering or meeting places for Christians. But as a home for Jesus Himself in the Blessed Sacrament. Cathedrals house Jesus. Christians merely come and visit Him. The cathedrals and churches architecturally prepare our souls for the beauty of the Eucharist.”

—Allen R. Hunt, Confessions of a Megachurch Pastor: How I Discovered the Hidden Treasure of the Catholic Church

(1) Visit of the Relics of St Bernadette to Westminster Cathedral (Westminster Cathedral)

2022/2023 Football Campaign (Abridged)

The opener at St. Mary’s was a sizzler. It was 90° something at KO and the Saints stormed back in the second half to earn a point.

DateMatch Location
7/30/2022Southampton (1) vs Villarreal CF (2)St. Mary’s
8/13/2022Southampton (2) vs Leeds (2)St. Mary’s
8/23/2022Cambridge United (0) vs Southampton (3)Abbey Stadium
8/28/2022Sunderland (0) vs Norwich (1) Stadium of Lights
9/3/2022Norwich (3) vs Coventry (0)Carrow Road
9/10/2022Coventry vs West Bromwich Albion CBS Arena
9/17/2022Exeter City Football Club (0) versus Burton Albion (2) St James Park
Match postponed in honor of Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022).