My Greatest American Sporting Achievement

During my time on the East Coast, I seemed to be a walking conversation starter.

On a couple of occasions, I was strolling through the streets and ghettos of New York/Washington DC whilst wearing a Texas A&M t shirt.

Yes, I suppose I am one of those stereotypical ‘t shirt’ fans. Although perhaps a big difference between me and them is that I doubt many can say they’ve flown over the Atlantic numerous times just to eat a Freebirds burrito.

Not that’s it a competition anyway.

Sidenote: If anyone fancies a burrito eating contest, feel free to get in contact.

Further sidenote: Be fully prepared to pick up the bill/check.

I’m digressing. And now just thinking of burritos. Free burritos. My bad. So, why was my t shirt a conversation starter?

Because apparently if you wear the maroon and white of Texas A&M, it is a free invitation for a New Yorker or Washingtonian to shout the words ‘Johnny Football’ at you.

It was pleasant at first. I’d give a nice smile, maybe even throw in a thumbs up if I was feeling bold.

But after the eighth or ninth time, it started to wear a little thin.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that Johnny has put A&M into mainstream culture. It was just a bit of a shock from being in College Station where nine out of ten people wear maroon clobber on a daily basis. Never had anyone shouted at me down there for my choice of threads.

I had been shouted at though. Apparently, walking in College Station is somewhat frowned upon. Which is a bit of an ordeal for me, because without a car, it’s all I do.

No joke, each evening that I’d walk back to my charming travel inn, people would literally slow down their cars on Texas Ave, roll their windows down and shout something like ‘walking sucks!’ or ‘walking is for losers man!’. And to their surprise, I would wholeheartedly agree.

The big change to being away from Texas was the weather. Before I left CS, people were telling me that when I returned it would be like coming back to a completely different place. They said the temperature would drop into the 70’s. I’ve grown up in the UK where we measure temperature in Celsius, so telling me the temperature is in the ‘70’s is like speaking in another language. I’ve since learned that mid 70’s is 24 degrees Celsius. Erm, where I come from, that’s still hot. Very hot. In fact, it’s considered a good sunny year if we get over ten or more days in the 20’s.

The difference from 100 degrees is of course welcome, and to be honest, I’m thankful I’m not going to have to sit through another game like Rice at Kyle Field again. I still have visions/nightmares of folks dropping like flies around me. Hydrate yourselves people.

Anyway, my time on the East Coast wasn’t just spent having to awkwardly deal with people shouting at me. It had it’s other perks too.

Well, one very good one actually.

My greatest ever American sporting achievement.

Now, don’t get me wrong, back at home I have a dusty bookcase that is almost half full of soccer trophies, accolades and other generic stuff made out of fake silver.

David Beckham once described me as the player he looked up to as a child. OK, it may not have been the real ‘Becks’, but he was a kid that was a couple of years below me at school. He may have also technically been called Darren Beachum.

The relevance? Well, when it comes to traditional American sports, I have nothing to show for. I was essentially invisible in the US sporting hierarchy. A ghost.

Until last week.

I was at an ice hockey match merely going about my business. Drink in one hand, foam finger on the other. When something curious happened.

An announcement was made. Suddenly, everyone perked up. They sensed we could be on the brink of something special. Oh my, how right they were.

‘IF A GOAL IS SCORED IN THE NEXT TWO MINUTES, EVERYONE IN THE STADIUM WILL WIN A BIG MAC FROM MCDONALDS’.

This was it.

This was my American sporting Mount Everest. This would put me on the map, surely? I’d no longer be unseen in the US sporting world. Perhaps ESPN may even run with it? I settled with the thought that I’d at least be a talking point between Skip Bayless and Stephen A Smith on First Take.

Before all that hullabaloo though, someone had to score.

With seconds remaining in the allocated win-a-Big Mac time frame, finally. A goal.

The drink went one way. The foam finger the other. Jubilation. Elation. Triumph.

I’d done it. I’d won McDonalds’ greatest ever creation. You just can’t put a price on that victory. (OK, maybe $2.50 or whatever a Big Mac is worth).

But this was my time. Other people run marathons, swim great lakes or win little league baseball tournaments, I sit there and wait for multi-millionaire hockey players to score a goal so I can win a Big Mac. We’re all good at different things.

And even more beautifully, I now have something else to add to my dusty bookcase that cherishes my sporting accomplishments. The crème de la crème of sporting greatness.

A moldy hamburger.

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