If there is anything I love when I travel to different cities and towns is the shops and restaurants off the beaten trail which you don't find on your tourist map. There was one in New York City our family went to in the heart of Chinatown. Our dinner at this restaurant was a cleaner version to an older, grainier version next door with duck spinning on spits in the oven you can see from the street. We chose the cleaner version and it turned to be a great find. Yes, the place sat atop a subway train which vibrated the tables every time the Blue Line went underneath us. No, there is no way we can find this place again. But the food, the Crab Rangoon, and the overall main course was the best Chinese we've ever had as a family. This wasn't “Bubba's China Buffet” off the road somewhere near the holla, this was as authentic as you can get anywhere on the East Coast.
The Three Legged Mare is one of those “hole in the wall” type places, but what a place!!
I went by invitation to check out the Massive Report podcast recording but I came early enough to catch the “Manny U” game against Aston Villa game. It would be the first game I'd watch with soccer fans. I can get noisy, throw my hands up at dumb calls, and act a fool without my daughters wondering if daddy is losing it in the man cave while they watch Glee.
I thought the place would be packed by the time I got there at 11am. Not so.
It didn't matter.
I came in and was greeted by a very friendly bartender wanting to know if I wanted a beer. Yes, and yes I was here for the game and podcast. (I apologize in advance for not remembering his name, but he made me feel at home and got chatting about his kids and the fact he came from Arizona and is a rugby fan). He introduced me to their special appetizer of Corn Beef balls with a great cheese sauce and some cabbage slaw on the top. Amazingly good by the way!
Whether if you were a long time football (soccer) fan or a newbie like me, this place was made for fans like us. You're greeted with international scarfs from Germany, Holland, England, and elsewhere. You saw kits from Manchester United, the Crew (of course), and Italy. The flats screens didn't have baseball, hockey, or American football blazing loudly from the speakers. This bar is a FOOTBALL sports bar!!
Found my table, found my appetizer in front of me, had a pint of ale, Wayne Rooney emblazoned on the big screen, and I was happy...really happy.
Soon I was joined by one of the workers (Shawn, I think was his name) who was off the clock, but wanted to catch the game on the screen and get a pint of ale for the road. We chatted about the Premier League, who is going to advance, which players should be picked up in the summer transfer window, the Crew's last game, and the like.
Ever felt like you've been to a place all your life but this was your first time there? This was one of those times in my life. If I lived in Columbus proper I'd be very much a regular denizen in the place. Columbus soccer fans, be proud of having a place like this one where you feel at home with your fellow soccer kinsmen and women. I think other than maybe another place similar to this in the city (which I will visit at some point before the season is over) you are very blessed to have it. I can't even tell you any place in Dayton or elsewhere in Ohio exclusively for soccer and rugby fans.
The bartender was kind enough to give me a swig of his favorite ale (other than Guinness): Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Not a drop of a bitter taste to it and if sold at any place here in Dayton I will be buying a few bottles for those special occasions I deem necessary to shout “nee”.
Podtime at the TLM!!
J.D. Smith, Matt Goshert, and Chris LaMacchia came in one by one in between the end of the Man U/Villa game and the FA Cup game between Chelsea and Totenham (more on this game later). As everyone went over what they were going to talk about regarding the Crew game, what was happening live with the FA Cup Semi, and other happenings in the MLS regarding refs. Meeting them for the first time was a pleasure and hopefully not the last time getting a chance to both watch them in action and talk shop and sports with them.
Working in radio back in the 1990s, I knew what it took to get a live remote together and interacting with the crowd, making sure the equipment was working, and enjoying the show. Today, it may go on line, but I think to really appreciate what it takes to put it all together you need to come and see it for yourself.
Now, on to the games.
“Get the FUNK out my face!”
I wish I could tell you I was in uber soccer geek mode this week, but I wasn't at all. Why? Because Manchester United, with an 8 point lead over Manchester City after a major collapse by their crosstown rivals, had a chance to advance past Wigan and wrap up their 20th Premier Championship. Wigan is in the relegation zone area...I'm sorry, WAS in the relegation zone. In a brilliant shot on their part, they beat a shocked Manny U side 1-0 giving Manchester City a slim chance to get back in the race.
Dejected? No, how about ticked beyond words.
Then my daughter's team got blown out by a very good Div. 1 team in her select league 6-1 in an ugly rainy game. Daddy stood out there watching as this team blew by the fullbacks and just way laid on the poor goalie.
Then the Crew laid a virtual egg in Philly by giving the Union their first win of the season in a 1-nil win. If there was ever a beatable team for the black and gold this was the one to beat after the Henry thrashing in the last home game. I am not even giving this game the space to comment because the boys on the podcast did enough of a good job breaking down the ugliness of this game so lets hope they put a better form on the field when Houston Dynamo comes into town this weekend for the first night game of the season.
By Sunday morning I was so in a huge funk I was even questioning if I even wanted to see the Manny U/Ashton Villa game in the first place? Thankfully I did because Sir Alex's (Ferguson) boys did the trick thrashing the Villans 4-0 at Old Trafford. Rooney got his 30th goal of the season in (where else) a penalty kick created by the nominee for “Best Acting in the Penalty Zone” Ashley Young. Even Sir Alex admits in an interview, “He has gone down quite easily but it was a penalty. He was definitely brought down.”
“Down goes 'Ashley'!”
The Red Devils won't take a gift and turn it back at all even if the overacting is a blemish to the outcome. Capitalization. In this part of the season any gift can mean championship or sour grapes. For Manchester United, they know how to make a good wine each year they can gain an edge against their opponent.
Manchester United better hope they enjoy this win because the next two games...crucial.
Five points. That's all the cushion they have to go on. Get past these two and the only numbers that matter is 20.
“Robbery, Assault and Battery”
The first time I heard of the band “Genesis” was back in the 70s (no dating the writer's age please) when they featured their first debut in America with the song “Robbery, Assault, and Battery” It was the first album with Phil Collins as their lead singer following the departure of Peter Gabriel. The song is a tongue in cheek type of viewpoint from the criminal's point of view.
This past Sunday, this song would be the one the Spurs should be singing over the way the ref gave a phantom goal to Chelsea in a crucial semi-final game for the FA Cup. With Liverpool sitting back watching to see who they play on May 4th, the Blues and Spurs would go at it in a very memorable game. Sadly, this game would be memorable for the wrong reasons as the Spurs got the wrong end of a costly call by the ref. After the Spurs tied it up in the 2nd half of the game it looked like a feisty one back and forth game for the ages. But at the 49th minute of the match the goalie and a few players fell on the line with the ball spinning towards the goal. From every naked eye watching the match on TV the ball didn't cross the line at all. Referee Martin Atkinson made the call over the line judge to rule it was a goal. What did he base this on I have no Earthly idea, but I know some bookie in London is a lot richer tonight over that call. Once the “phantom goal” went “in” Chelsea never looked back scoring at will before the final dagger by Frank Lampard on a beautiful cross towards the net iced it in a 5-1 rout of Tottenham.
Most of fans left their seats after the “ghost” goal, but one image of the Three Legged Mare patrons I'll never forget was the lone gentleman on the side with his Tottenham kit on rooting his team on from afar. When that questionable goal was allowed we all became Tottenham fans and then when the third goal came in he, along with his faithful on the screen in London, left dejected and having a bitter taste in his mouth. I'm sure he and his fellow fans had a few unkind words to the ref who made what was a striking statement from Chelsea a tainted one not because of the Blues, but because of the need for technology on the field.
A blind man can see soccer needs technology
This is not the first time a controversial call by refs throughout the Premiere league and other leagues like it around the world. It seems like ever other week, or ever month, we are greeted with a bad call here and there with no accountability on the referee system. I know the MLS is trying to do its share to help with the lack of careful, concise officiating on the field. With each bad call there mounts a distrust by both players/managers and the officiating crew regarding their ability to call a fair and quality match. Referee Atkinson's officiating crew will be looked at poorly for such a bad call with no chance of reviewing the play with the kind of technology available to help the game, not tarnish it.
American Football, tennis, hockey, even baseball are finding having the extra outlet of cameras and sensors do give refs a much more easier task in making sure the right call is played on the field.
According to Fox Soccer, both the FA and FIFA are in the final stages of getting such technology on the field by the summer to test its ability to catch the placement of the ball with accuracy. Despite such comforting efforts calls like the FA semi-finals can't be brought back for an overview. If that was the case, then a certain “hand of God” move may be in order for a HUGE review.
Deaf community brings their game to Crew Stadium
Found this at Soccer Plus over the weekend while buying a Crew Scarf. I think anytime we see groups coming together to promote the game of soccer in a positive light we need to lend our support. So it brought a huge smile on my face to see flier about USA Deaf Soccer in action at Crew Stadium for two games followed by the Crew facing the Vancouver Whitecaps.
US Deaf Men's and Women's Exhibition Soccer Games will happen this April 28th at 12:30pm and 3pm before the MLS action begins. $25 per ticket will pay for the three games including the Crew/Whitecaps game.
Okay, enough gushing from me over the Three Legged Mare this week. Instead of reading about it, be about it. Take some friends, check and see if the morning matches or afternoon games are happening and make it a party time with soccer and rugby buds. In the meantime, next game the Crew faces Houston.
Get Stoked! Get Ready! Get Massive Folks!