London calling: I’m here for the Other Football

Funnily enough, there's no mention of the Giants and the Royals. (M. Bradley)

Funnily enough, there’s no mention of the Giants and the Royals. (M. Bradley)

Funnily enough, there's no mention of the Giants and the Royals. (M. Bradley)

Funnily enough, there’s no mention of the Giants and the Royals. (M. Bradley)

London — Flew overnight into Heathrow. Took the train to Paddington Station. Took a cab to the hotel, not wanting to drag three bags through these narrow streets. Lucked into a cab driver who liked football (their kind) and gave me a detailed report on Manchester United’s 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion. Only then did I feel I was in England.

There’d been hints. We took the lift to the Heathrow Express, not the elevator. We were advised on exiting at Paddington to “mind the gap,” meaning don’t fall through the space between the train and the platform. My driver informed me that traffic today had been “diabolical” — that’s a big word over here, as is “shambolic” — because of some state function at Buckingham Palace.

“You’ll want to go there,” he said, acting as my tour guide. “But not today.”

He also informed me that the street on which we were driving — Edgware Road, which becomes the A5 — had been built by the Romans, who were pretty big, empire-wise, back in the day. “They built it straight so their armies could march,” I was informed, and that made me feel as if I was in Europe, where a lot of armies have done a lot of marching.

Later I took a walk up Edgware. Stopped at Marks and Spencer — known locally as “Marks and Sparks,” as we Yanks know from the 42-year-old song “All The Young Dudes,” written by David Bowie and recorded by Mott the Hoople — and bought some of the local papers. (My driver was correct on all the Man U-West Brom details. He should be a sports writer.)

I’d told the cabbie I’d come for the American brand of football — Falcons-Lions at Wembley on Sunday. “Here a bit early, aren’t you?” he’d said, and I conceded the point. But he seemed impressed when I mentioned that the Falcons were practicing at Arsenal’s training ground. (What we call “practice,” they call “training.”)

My hotel is near the Marble Arch — a monument under which the Royal Family and assorted military are allowed to pass — and you’ll recognize the name from its mention in the Leonard Cohen song, “Hallelujah.” I’m sorry to be sounding like Murray the K, but much of my knowledge of London comes from music. To wit: On my constitutional this afternoon, I saw a building marked “St. John’s Wood” and thought of “Play With Fire” by the Rolling Stones. (“Your mother she’s an heiress/Owns a block in St. John’s Wood.”)

Actually, I’d meant to head south on Edgware but got turned around. (What can I say? I’m a rube.) The lady at the front desk suggested that I take “a nice 10-minute walk” down to Hyde Park, which is where the Stones played their famous free concert in 1969 two days after Brian Jones was found dead in his swimming pool.

Ah, well. There’s always tomorrow. It’s getting dark now, and it was spitting rain — I hear it rains in England — when I ducked back into the hotel, and there was a UEFA Champions League game on the telly downstairs (The sports bar next door was advertising 1-pound beers when Manchester City, which is playing CSKA Moscow in an empty stadium, scores a goal.) Later tonight Chelsea plays host to Maribor at Stamford Bridge, which is 4.3 miles from here. But I hear traffic is diabolical.

Back tomorrow with football of a different sort.

Reader Comments 0

42 comments
zuzu331
zuzu331

I wasn't talking about Bradley. What a job,thinking up a million different ways of saying Smith and Dimitroff can't find their own a#@es in the dark...

zuzu331
zuzu331

UHHHH,Look at me,Im so sophisticated and urbane,I follow a sport that about as interesting as watching paint dry. No one knows all the obscure crap I name drop,Im so SMARRRRRT-I wonder If youre sitting in the Starbucks drinking your 14 dollar coffee with your pinky in the air,I Phone close at hand,while you tippity tap away on your Mac Book Pro...So Drrrrrrollllllll...

W
W

Murray the K knew London from being in London -- emceeing a Beatles concert at Wembley Stadium, watching the filming of "A Hard Day's Night," joining "the lads" at clubs, and meeting other groups, including the Rolling Stones who he persuaded Sid Bernstein to bring to the States for a concert tour.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

When you wrote the "other football" I assumed you meant the boring no fun league brand, as opposed to the real football college variety.  Turns out you are talking about soccer being the real football, which is even duller than the no fun league. 


Never understood the "Real" deal as in the Real Madrid, think it would help if we called the Falcons the Real Falcons or Real Atlanta?  Maybe you can educate us what that Real distinction means, are there Unreal Madrid teams in soccer?


Sorry your assignment will make you miss some real football Saturday. 

LauderdaleDawg
LauderdaleDawg

I went over for the Dolphins/Raiders game a few weeks ago, was pleasantly surprised at how many knowledgeable NFL fans I met.

DrPhill
DrPhill

Beware the Werewolves of London.

Pastamon
Pastamon

The passion for EPL football is pretty close to what we have here for SEC football. It'd make fo a good article. You should have checked out that Chelsea match. We won 6-0. But I'm sure you know Remy was hurt.

Chelsea Blue in Atlanta

RLSmith
RLSmith

Sorry Tree, but there IS life outside of American football and basketball.  You know, sports people play that can where the participants actually form a thought and articulate their position.  Try it sometime, you will be shocked - they speak the King's English.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Hey AJC, why don't you try and get people to sign up and pay for this article? HA,HA

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I just blew out a beer fart that was more entertaining than this article. My friends and I are still having a good chuckle.

Mark, when you're done with this drivel let us know!

Wilbo
Wilbo

Well, dude, not really much more boring or pointless than your usual columns.

ComicBookGuy
ComicBookGuy

Marble Arch also referenced in Girls Girls Girls by the Crue.  But maybe it's a different one.

gfw
gfw

Hope you get over the jet-lag quickly, Mark.  Enjoy, enjoy...and in your spare time take advantage of some of the free culture "on offer":  the British Museum, and/or the National Gallery, and/or the Tate Modern.  And eat some great Indian food, which is at a stratospheric level in London: for example at Gymkhana, the "National Restaurant of the Year," or, at a lower price, at Everest Spice Nepalese and Indian Restaurant.  Do these things because watching the Falcons there will probably not bring you any pleasure.  We can just turn off the TV; you have to sit there.

tyger
tyger


What's wrong with this picture?


2012 Draft: Konz, Holmes, Ewing, Massaquoi, Mitchelll...

2013 Draft: Trufant, Alford, Goodman, Toilolo, Maponga...


2012-2013 Pro Bowlers: Former/Current

DeCoud, Moore, Abraham, Turner, Grimes, White, Jones, Ryan, Samuel


2014-2015 Pro Bowlers: N/A, zero, none, zilch, nada


2012  Salary:  $117.2M   Record 12-4

2013  Salary:  $118.4M   Record  4-12

2014  Salary:  $132.7M   Record  2-5


Falcons pseudoscience has led to damnation...

Cult belief in false prophecy of 10 Yards Away ... 

Led to misconceived faith in demi-gods...


As usual, they took the money and ran....

RobbE33
RobbE33

Quick! Locate a reputable sweep and introduce him to Smitty.

Chim, chim, cheroo

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

The next thing you know the NFL will be importing all those soccer-style kickers and do away with the good ole fashioned straight-on, toe meets leather American kickers.  Say goodbye to the 35-yard "long distance" field goals and quick kicks on thrdr down.  I'd say to tell Mick Luckhurst hello, but he probably lives in Alpharetta.

Normd
Normd

I wonder if we could trade the Falcons for Chelsea

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

Good writing.  The style evokes London.  Perhaps a walk down Charing Cross Road put MB in a literary mood.  As for the Falcons, well, maybe the bright red & black uniforms will make an impression, since the team itself will not.  

OH-IO
OH-IO

Sunday will be a quadruple-header. We'll have three more games including to slots of Redzone to forget about the Falcons.

OH-IO
OH-IO

Have fun over there Bradely! 

OH-IO
OH-IO

Thumbs down on the new web-site.


Lipstick on a pig.

jsteph67
jsteph67

OMG the new site design is Horrible.  I mean Falcons Defense and Offensive Line horrible.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Have a safe trip. I've loved that song forever by Mott, thanks. Now I know another line.

Ersatz
Ersatz

I went to London years ago.  Very expensive, and lots to see, but not my first choice for a European trip.


I was planning to go to this Falcons game, but I'm glad I didn't at this point.  It would have been fun to see the Thrashers play in Prague, Stockholm, or Helsinki, but they never got the chance.

ChefTimDix
ChefTimDix

" Funnily enough, there’s no mention of the Giants and the Royals"

Can understand about the Giants, but Royals talk abounds in London. The Queen has a place just outside of KC.

NikeJacket
NikeJacket

Hope the team enjoys London.

The way things are going, it might be the highlight of their season.


Check our Geales or Poppies for true fish and chips and find your way to the St. James area and get a proper shave on Jermyn Street.

Gman84
Gman84

Mark, You are likely the only one in the Atlanta traveling party who will get anything out of this trip.

In fact, after the woeful Falcons stink up Wembley, this may finally end this ridiculous experiment of forcing the NFL on a populace who couldn't care less.

Have fun, despite the game!

DoubleSubject
DoubleSubject

Gary P. Nunn mentions Marble Arch (station) in his famous song, London Homesick Blues. The speakers corner thing begins at 9:00 am. So if you have something to say, give it a try. Someone will listen. Japanese tourists will probably take pictures and/or film the whole thing. 

Ruffski
Ruffski

What's a fan pay for tickets over there?? Average price?? High end / good seats??


Enjoy your stay, visit some sites... I'm not expecting a very good game.

Princess_Leia
Princess_Leia

How many British Pounds would we have to pay to have the Falcants detained in London, say for a few years with passport problems?

BTC
BTC

Enjoy London - it's a great (but expensive) city!   Do visit Hyde Park - you can go to Speaker's Corner and pontificate about the Falcons O/D line problems and see if you gather a crowd.  Make sure you go to Harrod's as well.

Savdon
Savdon

@DrPhill The one with a pina colada in his hand with the perfect hair? 

RLSmith
RLSmith

@Pastamon No Remy, No Costa.  Gotta play Drogba against Manu.

No offense, hope Chelsea don't score.  Help a brother out.

Savdon
Savdon

@Pastamon It's not a lot of fun to be in an English pub when England loses their first match of the WC.  A ticked off drunk English fan is to be watched very closely.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@RLSmith 

King's English?  There hasn't been a King in 62 years.

jsteph67
jsteph67

@OH-IO For the love of God, hades must be freezing over.  I agree with Oh-io.

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

@DoubleSubject You're 20 years out of date.  It's Chinese tourists traveling Europe now, and they're more likely to cause a ruckus and/or stampede than to take snapshots.

zuzu331
zuzu331

Yep,he's got a penchant for mountain biking and pink shirts,too...