Before I started helping (mostly) Americans see soccer games in England, I was a sportswriter and a travel writer. One of my stories from that time is when I took an Englishman to a Tennessee Vols football game.
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I am now a veteran of well over 100 English soccer games at more than 60 football grounds around the United Kingdom. I try to explain soccer to people, help them see games, and share all I can about the supporter culture as I learn it, mostly from English people.
But in 1991, the roles were reversed. I was 25, living in Tennessee where I grew up, and a follower of the Ole Miss Rebels football team. I went to see them play American football against the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville, and the night before, in a youth hostel in Gatlinburg, I met an English guy named Neal.
Neal was on a cultural tour of the southeastern US, and my default setting is to see and do interesting things, then help others do the same. And I like to tell stories.
So here’s the story — written years later for the Memphis Flyer newspaper — of how I helped Neal explore the big orange slice of American culture that is UT Vols Southeastern Conference college football at Neyland Stadium. Just like I now help Americans understand soccer in England, this was one time when I got to explain to an Englishman how American football is played.
Read “On the Orange Side” over on my original, personal site, PaulGerald.com.
(And if anybody can identify the mistake I made in writing that column — something in there that almost certainly could not have happened — and you’re the first person to put it in a comment on paulgerald.com, I’ll send you a signed book.)