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
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.
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.
“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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.