What English Sports Look Like To Non-British People

Submitted by: daegog 6 months ago in Sports


Because we clearly have so many football fans here, this feels appropriate.
There are 29 comments:
Male 7,936
This was perfect. First time I visited England, I watched a cricket match and was baffled by it. Later that night, I was in a pub and the locals were asking me what I thought of England and I described the cricket match and they were laughing so hard they were crying. I was bought more drinks than I could imbibe.
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Male 84
squrlz4ever this was you when you go to a english pub :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZN239G6aJZo
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Male 7,936
hafa84

Warning: Long read ahead.

Actually, that's pretty darn close to what I experienced when I went to Belfast on the same trip, about a month later. I seldom tell this story, but here goes.

Before entering college, I traveled across Europe for a year. Money was tight. Because I was doing everything I could to simplify and economize, early in the trip I went into a barbershop in Scotland and requested a military-style crewcut. A few days later, at the height of the Northern Ireland conflict, and against everyone's advice, I took a ferry from Cairnryan into Belfast.

The ship had about 150 British soldiers aboard it, dressed in combat fatigues and carrying automatic weapons. I fell into conversation with two of them. We chatted a bit about York, which I'd just visited, and they were kind enough to show me the scopes on their weapons after I asked about them. They were around my age, maybe one or two years older. It was their first time going into Northern Ireland, and they seemed happy to have an American traveler to chat with and take their minds off things. About two hours later, the ferry made its way into the port of Belfast, we all disembarked, and after waving goodbye to the soldiers, I headed into the heart of the city with my backpack.

If I'd had any doubt as to whether I was entering a war zone, that point was settled quickly. Soon, virtually every block I was walking through was filled with bombed out buildings, streets barricaded with barbed wire, and the occasional burning vehicle. Just my luck. The route from the ferry dock to a youth hostel I'd found in a guidebook was taking me right through the worst areas.

I hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast and I was eager to get off the streets, so when I found the first decent-looking pub, I headed right in. I had made it about three paces inside when I found myself lifted off my feet from behind and roughly planted, chest first, against the bar. It turned out that four men in their late 20s or early 30s--the very same men who now had me painfully immobilized--had been watching the ferry come in and saw me conversing with the British troops. They followed me into the city, figuring I was some kind of would-be infiltrator.

With my face applied to the bartop, I did my best to answer their questions as to who I was, where I lived, where I was coming from, where I was going, why I knew the British soldiers, and why my hair was cut the way it was. I had the sense I was balancing on the head of a pin. As this interrogation was conducted, first my person was thoroughly searched and then my backpack was emptied on the floor. Every item in my wallet was laid out on the bar and scrutinized, as was my passport.

As I lay there, helpless, I remember thinking that no one in the world knew where I was. No one. I hadn't told my parents I was going into Northern Ireland. This was in a time before cell phones and GPS. If I were to disappear, all that would ever be known is that I got off a ferry in Belfast and was never seen again.

Finally, after what were probably the longest five minutes of my life, the men seemed to decide I was nothing other than what I was--an 18-year-old American who had idiotically put himself in serious danger for no good reason. I was roughly shoved and declared a "bloody eejit." Then the four of them stormed out, leaving me to gather my things off the floor with a pair of knees that seemed to be vibrating all by themselves.

Whew.

A retired schoolteacher by the name of Arthur Doran had been seated not ten feet away, periodically sipping his drink, while this drama unfolded. After the four IRA members left, he introduced himself, apologized for what I'd been through, and then proceeded to give me a proper Irish welcome. The bartender poured me a glass of whiskey, and both he and Arthur let it be known that this was special stuff, produced locally in small quantities, and not served to just anyone. So help me, it was the smoothest, most divine whiskey I've ever tasted.

I wolfed down an early dinner--some kind of savory pie was involved--and then Arthur and I both had way, way too much to drink. He asked me questions about America and then told me stories of the Americans he'd met in Belfast long ago, when the allies were marshalling their forces in preparation for D-Day. The Yanks, Arthur said, were always up for a night of drinking because they knew a momentous clash with the Nazis was coming and they weren't sure they'd survive.

When it was time to call it a night, Arthur insisted on personally driving me to a youth hostel he considered safe. How he managed to drive, after all we'd been drinking, I have no idea. Let's just say he held his alcohol much better than I could.

The next morning, at 10 AM sharp, Arthur picked me up and proceeded to give me the kind of tour of Northern Ireland that only a local could offer. A trip into the Mourne Mountains--which Arthur accompanied with a recitation of Irish poems--and a visit to St. Patrick's grave were among the highlights. Arthur had a profound love of Northern Ireland; the country's history and natural beauty seemed to flow through his veins.

At one point, Arthur pulled over and explained a recent bit of ruthless IRA strategy. He pointed to a spot in the road where the IRA had detonated an IED just before a British patrol. The Brits had abandoned their disabled truck and taken cover inside the ruins of a small stone farmhouse about 30 meters off the road. Once the men were in the confines of the stone walls, Arthur explained, the IRA then detonated their main charge inside the farmhouse, killing the entire patrol.

As we traveled from sight to sight, Arthur would often stop and introduce me to people he knew--local businessmen, including a charming older woman who ran a bed and breakfast--and they all were delighted to have an American visitor to entertain. Tourists were few and far between.

I expect Arthur Doran of Belfast, Northern Ireland, passed on long ago. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude for his hospitality and wish I could thank him now.

Decades older, and a little wiser, something has just now occurred to me. It wouldn't surprise me if the reason those four IRA toughs had released me was because Arthur had given them some kind of a nod.
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Male 4,188
squrlz4ever Wow, that was amazing. Would you do it again, knowing what you know now?

I don't have the time to travel. Or, I do, but that time is taken by work. But without work I'd have no money. Without money, I couldn't travel. It seems I'm always in some sort of Catch 22
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Male 7,936
DuckBoy87 While I treasure the memory of the adventure, if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't--not out of concern for myself so much as concern for my parents. Had I perished on that trip at 18, my parents would never have gotten over it nor forgiven themselves for letting me go.

Travel needn't always be an extended trip of two months or more. Even a short trip of four or five days can give you experiences that significantly alter your understanding of the world. My trip last year to Jamaica was just five days but it was incredible. I went way up into the Blue Mountains on some crazy, hairpin roads and toured a coffee plantation that was literally above the clouds.
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Male 3,027
squrlz4ever 
Wow, that's quite the adventure. Yeah, I think there may have been more to Arthur's story.

You would love to trade stories with my brother. Among other things, he's been interrogated by the Mossad (after visiting Iran), and detained in a Chinese detention centre because of a problem with paperwork.
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Male 7,936
jaysingrimm Thanks. Yes, it sounds like your brother and I would have a lot of fun recounting our misadventures. Corn cob pipes optional (but a great aid).
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Male 43,789
squrlz4ever        Is that the short version of that story?
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Male 7,936
Gerry1of1 Yes, I know: I pulled a James Michener. Sorry! And a shout-out to Muert, the only IAB'er I know who had the stamina to make it through the entire comment.
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Male 84
squrlz4ever Thats a lot of words, i only read the fisrt two paragraphs!! At least you enjoyed a couple of shots of absinthe, like they did in the movie?! ;)
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Male 7,936
hafa84 Hmmm. Well, I don't blame you. It's more of a long-winded monologue than a comment. I think I may need a different format.

Alas, no absinthe. I did, however, get some wonderful Irish whiskey.
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Male 3,027
squrlz4ever 
I still have a bottle of Euphoria 80 my brother brought back after his trip to Chernobyl.

Hmm...I don't have to work the next few days :)
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Male 84
squrlz4ever as long you have a nice holiday!! Next time go to southern europe to eat tapas and drink sangria :)
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Male 4,188
squrlz4ever I will have to read this tomorrow when I have the time.
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Male 7,936
DuckBoy87 Sorry, DuckBoy. I know it's a book of a comment.
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Male 867
squrlz4ever That is one heck of a tale!  I wonder if kids will ever actually understand that the adults in their life know they are young and stupid because of first hand experience of that stage.
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Male 7,936
muert Thanks. During that year of travel, I came close to death four times, and I'm counting those initial minutes in that Belfast pub as one of them. It's amazing to me I survived that trip.

That wasn't hyperbole in the last paragraph, by the way. In all the years since that event occurred, it never occurred to me until last night, when I was checking my journal and writing this out, that Arthur Doran may have been secretly overseeing my interrogators.
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Male 1,407
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Male 7,936
punko Well, thank you for explaining the ins and the outs of the game. It's all perfectly clear now. LOL!
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Male 1,407
squrlz4ever With the exception of the concept of the 'not outs', the above explanation also applies to an inning of baseball
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1,035
I may not be English but i will leave this here in defense of them. A propper full contact sport :p 

https://youtu.be/o0FozPTuZrs
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Male 343
layla_wilson next weeks game against Wales is going to be damn good, I can't wait.  
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Male 7,936
layla_wilson Layla! Are you Scuttish? I was thinking you were English.
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Male 43,789
layla_wilson    alas, video not available in my country  USA
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Male 43,789
The only British sport I understand is Quidditch. 
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Male 9,723
Gerry1of1 Not sure I really want to know how you mount your broom....

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Male 43,789
megrendel     Side-saddle of course!
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Female 9,740
Gerry1of1 I can see you riding Side-Saddle.
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Male 4,188
Man, if he Geoffrey would've moved the yellow snirckt closer to the corner, Stuart could've ran the pitch to get 3 more krefs before the 2nd closer! What a dumb play that was!
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