Saturday, May 5, 2012

Football Saturday

This morning, Sclark, Christine and I wanted to start off our weekends like many of our fellow Londoners: with a trip to the market! We took the tube to Notting Hill and walked to Portobello Market. For those who have seen the movie Notting Hill (which I'm watching as soon as I get back to the states!) it's the area with "the blue door" where the film takes place. The market had adorable clothes, antiques, fresh food, and everything you can imagine. It was great to see a mix of tourists, local vendors, and residents all shopping on the chilly Saturday morning. The fresh crepe we snacked on during our browsing helped make the morning even more wonderful :)
Music and more at Portobello Market

Leyton Orient takes to the pitch!
The team celebrates after a goal
After the market, we met up with the group and took the tube out to Leyton where we had the chance to talk with employees of the Leyton Orient Football Club and attend their final match of the season. The team is in a third tier league currently, and they've had a pretty lousy season. Most unfortunately, the team is in a legal battle with other football teams over the Olympic Stadium. West Ham, another football club in a higher league, wants to use the Olympic Stadium for their new venue after the games end. While it's great that the Olympic Stadium would be utilized for sport after the games end, there is one problem: the Olympic Park and Stadium is located only a few miles from Leyton Orient's stadium. If West Ham moves into the new venue, they will offer cheap tickets to help fill the stadium, which will draw audiences from Leyton and could potentially kill the Orient's fanbase and club. To solve the issue, the government has decided to rent the venue out to sports teams instead of selling it as they intended. Since they could only rent out the stadium, West Ham would be unable to access various revenue sources, such as naming rights, if they utilized the stadium, which could make the Olympic Stadium less appealing. On May 23 it will be decided if West Ham will move into the stadium or not. I hope for Leyton Orient's sake they find a compromise to satisfy both teams.

Fans cheer on the O's

After discussing this issue at length with employees of Leyton Orient, we had the chance to watch the team in action. They won the match 2-1 I believe, and it was so awesome to see the passion the small group of fans had for their home team.  It was the last match of the season, the weather was freezing cold, and fans were still cheering loudly and on their feet to support the team. When the players walked towards the stands after they won their game, they were greeted like heroes. It reminded me of the Big House, but on a much smaller scale. We met some very nice locals who told us all about their time attending football matches as well.

Sclark and I with the O's mascot

After the match was over, we headed back to Liverpool to our favorite pub, the Greene King, to watch the FA Cup where Chelsea was playing Liverpool. It was great to cheer with the locals in the pub and watch Chelsea win in the stadium we toured just a few days ago — Wembley Stadium. We were all sure to note our newfound knowledge about the stadium throughout the game. Though it would have been fun to go to the FA Cup, I really enjoyed watching a smaller scale match in Leyton. The dedicated group of fans had so much passion and formed a small community around the team. This football Saturday showed me that whether on a large scale in Wembley Stadium or on a small scale in Leyton Orient or at the Liverpool pub, football definitely brings people together here in the UK.

The Leyton Orient goalie carries his baby off the field after his exciting final win of the season

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