Monday, November 14, 2011

Personal Recollection: The Columnist Scott Story

Chique Sheik
Photo by Photocapy on Flickr

Growing up in Saudi Arabia, with the NFL eight time zones away, I was destined to play and fall in love with soccer.  First, I was molded under the feisty tutelage of a Columbian named Hernando Hernandez (how cool is that name?), whose twin boys were my compatriots in elementary school soccer.  Then it was an Englishman, George Merrin. And while I remember both fondly, and surely benefited from the passion that both of them have for the game, it was George who coached and influenced me during my most formative ages of 12 to 15.  George (he was the only adult I was ever allowed to call by his first name) was not only my coach but also a family friend who, being a bachelor in a foreign country, spent Christmas at our house every year.
Shortly after I returned to the US in 1984, George moved to Australia to coach full time and eventually became the Director of Coaching for Far North Queensland.  I stayed in touch with him over the years and even visited him in Cairns in 1999.  He, in turn, would make a US tour every 5 years or so, staying with people he used to coach or other people he knew from Saudi.  Which brings us to the present time and a very enjoyable visit this past week that George swears will be his last, as he is retiring to Thailand.
Naturally, a week spent with a self-diagnosed football fanatic, whose response to more than one woman who accused him of paying too much attention to the sport was “you knew football was my first love when you met me”, offers ample opportunity to discuss all things EPL.  And so after that slightly indulgent preamble, allow me to relay George’s brief thoughts on the current EPL picture.
George has been a Norwich City fan for as long as I can remember (and is a shareholder).  So you can imagine the giddy emails I received, chock full of exclamation points, at the end of last season when the Canaries were promoted.  And with Norwich’s recent excellent run of form, George is optimistic that another year in the EPL will be in the cards for his team.  He says that the team management realistically expected to bounce back to the Championship at least once before being able to make it back to stay in the top division.  They have already put their EPL bonus money to work by retiring some debt and purchasing players.  When I asked why Grant Holt doesn’t feature very often after being a big reason the team achieved promotion last year, George opined that he doesn’t have EPL-type speed and for that reason has been coming off the bench as a change of pace.
George is not very daring with his pick to win the title this year, favoring the leaders Manchester City, citing their intimidating start to the season and endless depth.  He thinks Manchester United and Chelsea will also finish in the top four.  As for the last top-4 spot, he is quite sure it won’t be Newcastle who currently find themselves in that company but, rather, one of Tottenham, Liverpool or Arsenal (he has been saying for some time now that we can’t count out Arsenal and, judging by recent results, he seems to be correct).  When I asked him who he thought would be relegated he replied Wigan, Blackburn and Wolves – all safe bets I would say.
As for who will take over the England reigns when Fabio Capello moves on after Euro 2012, George thinks Harry Redknapp will get the nod and be an excellent choice.  I disagree, I think George should get the job.

This is farlieonfootie for November 14.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Frank Lampard doesn't have EPL speed either, but he's pretty good.

    -- Joey B.