Around the world in 12 sto­ries

Strap in: ex­quis­ite mad­ness abounds across the foot­balling globe as usual, from wonky pitches in Bangkok to one very lonely sup­porter in Swe­den

FourFourTwo - - CONTENTS -

1 NO THIRD IN­GRE­DI­ENT RE­QUIRED Eng­land Chea­dle

North West Coun­ties Di­vi­sion One out­fit Chea­dle Town of­fer quite the se­lec­tion of pies on a match­day. Ob­vi­ously the non-league sta­ple of meat and potato is avail­able for any of the tra­di­tion­al­ists present, but if fans fancy some­thing dif­fer­ent in their pie, the sec­ond op­tion is to­tally dif­fer­ent: potato and meat.

Each pie costs £1.50, or as Chea­dle might call it, 50 pence and a pound.

2

LO­CAL GUNNERS’ SANTA CLAUSE Bul­garia Sofia

Ar­se­nal’s swathe of Bul­garia-based sup­port­ers had to get cre­ative for their beloved team’s Cham­pi­ons League tie at Lu­do­gorets Raz­grad. Banned from wear­ing Gunners-re­lated gear in the home end, they still turned up in red and white, wear­ing Santa hats in­stead.

Paus­ing only to mut­ter “hum­bug”, Lu­do­gorets’ ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor An­gel Pet­richev de­clared that the army of San­tas were traitors. “They’d bet­ter put some rein­deer antlers on their heads, too,” he added. Since when did Santa wear rein­deer antlers? 3 TIFO TAUNT BACKFIRES USA Colum­bus

USA sup­port­ers taunted Mex­ico ahead of their 2018 World Cup qual­i­fier first by elect­ing a wall-build­ing Mex­ico-hat­ing ma­niac as pres­i­dent, then by un­veil­ing a huge tifo of their USMNT mid­fielder Chris­tian Pulisic mak­ing a ‘Dos a Cero’ sign. The ges­ture rep­re­sented the fact that Mex­ico had lost 2-0 on each of the pre­vi­ous four oc­ca­sions they’d vis­ited the US for a World Cup qual­i­fy­ing match.

This time, how­ever, the joke was on the Yanks. They lost 2-1, and Don­ald Trump is still in charge of their coun­try.

4

“YOU’VE ONLY GOT ONE FAN!” Swe­den Kal­mar

Ge­fle fans were ju­bi­lant when their team se­cured a 1-0 win at Kal­mar to keep their top-flight sur­vival hopes alive. We say ‘fans’. In fact, only one of them made the six-hour trip for the match. That didn’t stop the en­tire team walk­ing over to cel­e­brate their vic­tory with him as if the away end was full.

The fan re­sponded by rais­ing his arms aloft in joy, or pos­si­bly in a mis­guided at­tempt to start off a Mex­i­can wave.

5

THE REAL GHOST GOAL Spain Madrid

Ex-liver­pool for­ward Luis Gar­cia marked Hal­loween by dress­ing up as a ghost and pos­ing by a goal with – and you have to ap­pre­ci­ate the at­ten­tion to de­tail – a Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball.

Gar­cia’s prank was a ref­er­ence to his ‘ghost goal’ against Jose Mour­inho’s Chelsea, which put Liver­pool into the 2005 Cham­pi­ons League Fi­nal. A fine jape, 11 years in the mak­ing – bravo!

6

NUDE MAN JOINS CEL­E­BRA­TIONS Eng­land Guild­ford

Su­perb scenes at Guild­ford City, where cap­tain Dar­ryl Siaw emerged naked from the dress­ing room to join in the cel­e­bra­tions for a goal scored in the Com­bined Coun­ties Premier Di­vi­sion fix­ture against North Green­ford United.

Siaw had been forced off due to an in­jury only min­utes ear­lier, and he was so over­joyed by the goal that he even ex­changed some rude ges­tures with his team-mates in cel­e­bra­tion. That’s team spirit for you right there, folks.

7

CALL THE POL-ICE Chile San­ti­ago

Ar­gen­tine for­ward Se­bas­tian Pol has been watch­ing too many Eric Can­tona videos. An­gered by a fan’s jibes dur­ing Au­dax Ital­iano’s Chilean league de­feat at Univer­si­dad Ca­tolica, he climbed a fence and kicked him in the chest.

“I didn’t mean to kick him – I just wanted to frighten him,” Pol told re­porters at the po­lice sta­tion af­ter be­ing ar­rested. He then asked for his tele­phone call, as well as some seag­ulls, sar­dines and a trawler.

8

HOW TO MAKE AN EN­TRANCE Ar­gentina Rosario

You know what would really im­prove the play­ers’ en­trance onto the field? If the teams emerged from the chest of a gi­ant in­flat­able ul­tra, that’s what.

Well, they’re way ahead of us over in Ar­gentina, where Rosario Cen­tral un­veiled their new tun­nel for the big derby clash with Newell’s Old Boys. The play­ers were also greeted onto the pitch by ticker tape, fire­crack­ers and smoke bombs. Mean­while, the Premier League fo­cuses on ref­er­ees col­lect­ing a ball from a plinth. Sigh.

9

REC­TAN­GU­LAR PITCHES ARE SO LAST WEEK… Thai­land Bangkok

The peo­ple of Thai­land have noted the habit of play­ing foot­ball on rec­tan­gu­lar pitches and de­cided they have a bet­ter idea: play­ing around a cor­ner in­stead.

A num­ber of bizarrely-shaped pitches have been con­structed on pre­vi­ously derelict spa­ces in a densely-pop­u­lated part of the cap­i­tal, Bangkok. But why? Buzz­word-lov­ing ar­chi­tects AP Thai­land ex­plained that the pitches have “proven that de­sign­ing out­side bound­aries can help foster cre­ativ­ity used to de­velop these use­ful spa­ces”. Ah, we thought so.

10

“BUT I DON’T WANT TO WEAR THE POWER RANGER COS­TUME” Ger­many Cologne

That time of year again: Cologne play­ers dress­ing up in silly fash­ion to cel­e­brate the city’s car­ni­val. This year fea­tured Su­per­man, Power Rangers, a baby and one player who ap­peared to have come dis­guised as Kevin De Bruyne.

This all took place on the Billy Goats’ ‘Cham­pi­ons League morn­ing’, which in the ab­sence of ac­tual Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball, con­sisted of play­ing the theme tune. That makes sense: it’s the best bit.

11

“ARE YOU THERE, GOD? IT’S ME, PHIL MULRYNE” Repub­lic of Ire­land Dublin

Re­mem­ber for­mer Manch­ester United and Nor­wich mid­fielder Phil Mulryne?

The ex-north­ern Ire­land in­ter­na­tional re­tired at 30 and has now been or­dained as a dea­con, mark­ing the achieve­ment by ly­ing flat on his face in St Saviour’s church, Dublin. No, he wasn’t hav­ing a quick nap – it’s part of the cer­e­mony.

12

PARIS HIL­TON, SOC­CER HIPSTER Mex­ico Torreon

At Four­fourtwo we’ve al­ways ad­mired the in­sight of so­cialite Paris Hil­ton while won­der­ing: ‘Which foot­ball team does she sup­port?’ But won­der no more!

It seems Hil­ton is a big fan of Liga MX side San­tos La­guna – at least for the few sec­onds it took to hold up a shirt with her name on it at a press event. Sadly, the club have been strug­gling this sea­son, some­thing Paris at­tributes to a lack of co­her­ent press­ing sys­tem and mis­guided use of the false nine.

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