Saying Goodbye To The Bye Week In Style

On Saturday, it felt strange not walking down to Kyle Field or staying up till 3.30am to watch A&M play a road game.

After all, that had been my existence for the past five weeks.

Since coming back to England, it has surprisingly taken me a while to get back into the British way of living. Everything is different. And I mean everything. Even water doesn’t taste the same here.

On the topic of water, oh how I long to buy 20 bottles from Walgreens for just $2. That’s cheap you say? Yes. Because the plastic bottles are faulty and can’t stand up properly. I found that out the hard way.

Likewise, picking up phrases such as ‘howdy’, ‘gig ‘em’ and ‘y’all’ have not helped me. I’ve nonchalantly used these when speaking to English people and have acquired looks that suggest that I’ve just burned their house down.

So, with no Aggies in action, what the hell was I going to do with my weekend? Eat fish and chips? Take in a game of soccer? Pop round to Buckingham Palace and see if the Queen fancies a beer?

Well, I did two out of the three.

On the Friday night, I was down in South West England in a little seaside town called ‘Westward Ho’. Why is this relevant? Because I came across a place that has exactly the same name just a few miles from College Station. I know that there are loads of towns/cities that share names between the UK and US but this still seemed a bizarre coincidence. I wasn’t going to shout about it though. Once my father went to Portsmouth in New Hampshire and proclaimed that he was from the original Portsmouth in the UK. They wholeheartedly did not care.

The next day, I headed to the place that I’ve spent most of my Saturdays from the scarily young age of just six. Where? Fratton Park. The home of Portsmouth Football Club. Like Kyle Field is the ‘Mecca’ to Aggies, FP is like a spiritual home for me. It’s where I first fell in love with sport.

Now, you’re probably imaging this to be a park that is magical, sophisticated and a location that the best soccer in the land is played. Wrong, wrong and I wish.

To put it nicely, Fratton Park, from every angle, is an eyesore. It’s one of the last remaining old stadiums in English football and when I mean old, it was built in 1898. No, that is not a typo. 1898. This season, parts of the stadium have had to be closed because of safety concerns. It’s an absolute world away from Kyle Field or Reliant Stadium. To put it nicely, it’s a sh**hole.

But it’s home. And because of this, 15,000 people get together there every Saturday to watch their team pretty much always lose. Why? Because they always have and always will.

It was my first homage in a couple of months and things didn’t get off to the best of starts. Just before the game, I was having a quick glance at my phone when a player warming up struck a ball in my general direction. As I was not looking, I had no idea what was about to happen. Splat. Straight in the face. It felt like I’d just been punched in the chops. My nose felt broken. I looked around for sympathy. Nothing. Just people laughing at my misfortune.

For the next ten minutes I wasn’t a happy bunny. Likewise, there was no marching band, Reveille or Kevin Sumlin saying ‘Yes Sir’ on the big screen to cheer me up.

Instead, there were just more balls being kicked into the crowd. Was it wrong of me that I slightly hoped someone else would get hit in the face too? So we could both share and revel in the embarrassment? Perhaps.

I took cover. It felt weird to experience a Saturday with no ‘Spirit of Aggieland’, shouting ‘TOOOOOMBS’ and getting hyped as I hear Kanye West’s ‘Power’ come on.

In its place, I was treated to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack and a big screen that looked like it could fall off its hinges at any moment and crush the people below. Luckily, that didn’t happen. Although the screen did seem to lose power on regular occasions.

Eventually, they won the game 3-0 and as a result powered up the rankings to 15th place (out of 24) in the fourth tier of English soccer. Dizzy heights.

Maybe I had started to take the glitz and glamour of college football and the NFL for granted. On Saturday though, I was brought back down to earth with a thud. Literally. In the face.

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