Thursday, August 23, 2007

We are Stoke

So I'm trying to win a Carlsberg beer contest to see the European football game of my choice. Stoke, natch, although visiting the Camp Nou would be wonderful too. The contest requires your best football story, so I made one up, casting Lehho in the role of the mysterious stranger...:

As an American Stoke fan in America, I’ve never been able to explain my love of the team to anyone I know—my wife doesn’t even understand, although she does her best. Barcelona she gets, but a mediocre Coca-Cola League team? I have a hard time explaining it to myself. So I spend my time on the web, listening to podcasts, watching blurry game clips, alone.

But last winter, I was singing one of the Stoke anthems—Tom Jones’ version of “Delilah”—to myself on a subway platform while visiting my father in New York. “I saw the light on the night that I passed by her window,” I sang, and in my heard the horns that come in after that line. “I saw the flickering shadows of love on her blind.” I heard them again, and it seemed as though I could really hear them above the noise of the station. “She…was…my woman,” I sang a little louder, “As she deceived me I watched, and went out of my mind.” I wasn’t imagining it—as I went into the chorus, singling loudly enough that people were starting to look at me funny and edge away from me there on the platform, someone one the other side of the crowd was singing along with me!

“My, my, my…Delilah,” and he answered me: “Why, why, why… Delilah?” That one got a laugh.

Well, the Stoke version of the song turns dirty after “She stood there laughing,” and I wasn’t sure if I should sing it there in public, and I didn’t want to make my new friend think I was an idiot…so when we got there, I let him sing that line—and he sung the Stoke version, at the top of his very loud lungs.

Well, I knew he was my kind of guy then, and as he was very recognizable I went up and found him on the train later on. We’re friends now, and when Stoke wins or loses I finally have someone I meet up at a bar and complain with. Not to mention, a friend I wouldn’t ever have had if I hadn’t been singing one of my favorite Stoke songs at a subway one day. The team brings me a lot of joy and a lot of heartbreak, but they’re both a lot more fun now.

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