European Soccer Tour – Day 1

The year of Max Q continues! It’s been so good (if you need me to explain what I’m talking about, let me know).

Blake and I left Thursday afternoon for Europe with his soccer club, to experience a long-planned (and thankfully, for the most part long-since paid for) European soccer tour. The first leg of the journey went about as well as a long international flight can. Those in the know tell you to take knock-out aspirin to get some sleep on the plane, which I did. It didn’t exactly get me to sleep as much as it made me just feel funky, so when we landed Friday morning in Paris I was feeling pretty worn out.

Ah, Paris. City of romance. City of refined culture and exquisite cuisine. City of smelly, stuffy, hot and run down Charles de Gaulle airport.

We had a five hour layover there. I’m not complaining, because, for goodness sakes, we get to go to Europe and I’m counting my blessings. But five hours in CDG was five hours too long.

We were in the security line to get to our gate, and had been for some time, surrounded by loudly complaining Americans (not in our group) and, of course, the french, when suddenly all the passport gates closed. We were vigorously waved over to another area and the passport lines were cleared and roped off. We shuffled where we were told – not that I could understand a word – along with a teeming mass of people who, like me, didn’t appear to have taken a shower recently either. The French security guards loudly blew their whistles and shouted at us.

Serrez-vous les gens là stupides!

Le mouvement vite ou je vous sifflerai encore une fois!

Vite! Vite! Dépêchez-vous!



Finally, the crisis, or whatever it was, was over, and they let us back in line, which was now in a coil several miles long. The Americans behind me were complaining about missing a flight and urging me to, I guess, trample the people in front of me, so I ignored them and they skipped under the rope to the loud complaints of an ineffective French security guard.

“Let’s just go outside for awhile,” I suggested to Blake. The cooler air outside felt good, and I snapped a picture.

Blake, not feeling particularly happy with Charles de Gualle thus far.

We finally got back in line, and made it through customs . . . which, it turns out, we didn’t have to go through. Seems I had missed a turn when we disembarked and got us on the wrong side of things. Another family was following me and got mixed up in the mess as well. Those who know me well know that “following Bill” is not a recipe for success, and, Jeff, the dad, has been ribbing me ever since for leading them astray.

In any event, we finally made it through security and to our gate and settled down for a long layover. I was so tired I ended up putting my backpack in my lap and using it for a pillow to snatch a quick doze. Meanwhile the boys entertained themselves.

They don’t look tired

The flight to London was very short and comfortable, and after we disembarked, went through customs (I was an old pro at going through customs by now), and got our luggage, we met up with Austin and Gary, our Scottish soccer guides, and boarded our chartered bus bound for Bradfield College, a co-ed boarding school for ages 13 through 18, nestled in the Berkshire countryside near Reading (which is pronounced “Redding”).

Bradfield College

Bradfield was established in 1850, and it has a lot of charm and is surrounded by a lush, beautiful countryside. I love England.

Our boys were scheduled to play a match against a British team from the Ascot United football club.

The Texans (in red) and Ascot United

As jet-lagged and tired from the long trip as they were, and with this being their first time to go up against European talent, we were not expecting a great showing. Boy, were we wrong. It was a great, fun match to watch, and the Ascot parents were very complimentary of our boys. We controlled possession for most of the game, played a stout defense, and ended up winning 4-2. We had the good fortune of having a guest Scottish goalkeeper from one of the teams coached by our tour guides, and he was fabulous. He’s in green, above.

Both keepers did a great job talking up their teams and directing and encouraging the defense. Ascot’s keeper in particular gave us a dose of some great Britishisms during one memorable exhortation.

Keep up the pressure, boys! Pressure!!

That’s how we win mates, WITH LOVELY PRESHAAAH!!!”


I need to figure out the sports-setting on my camera, because most of the shots I got during the game were blurry. But here are two.

The back four, holding the line

Blake, waiting for a throw-in

Following the game, we had a meal together and the boys went to their Bradfield dorms while we parents went to our hotel, All in all, it was a very tiring but good travel-day and day 1 of the trip. The boys represented America well.

Tomorrow, Aston Villa at Fulham.

* This isn’t really what they said, as far as I know. I don’t speak French.

4 thoughts on “European Soccer Tour – Day 1

  1. congratulations on confirming why I think NO flights should ever connect with CDG. I haven’t ever heard one compliment of that airport. EVER!

    Glad you arrived safely in England. Good luck with the language there. I’m sure there will be times when you wonder what language they are speaking.

    BTW, I am friends with Loys and Virgil.

  2. Great report! Sorry about the Paris delay but that’s the way it goes with travel. Blake doesn’t look happy but I’ll bet his mood has improved.

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