Mr. Smiling RED

This is a column where I take a deep breath and channel my inner smile. I’m doing this because the world seems to be coming apart and I needed a break from dictators and bad drivers and stupidity. So let me show you how to smile and what smiling is all about.

For background info, there won’t be a quiz – someone made up some ‘facts’ about smiles which I’ll share right now.

  • Smiling releases more endorphins than heroin and sex combined;
  • The best way to calm down an anxious turtle is by smiling at it;
  • Breathing is enhanced because smiling helps stretch larynx muscles;
  • Smiling managers have a better winning percentage in the EPL than dour-faced skippers;
  • Players who smile when getting into position are 84% more likely to anticipate a good pass;
  • Angry players who don’t play with joy just look to complain…I call it the Sterling Solution;
  • When you smile, it’s easier to put on your boots;
  • Keepers share how the power of a strategic smile can push a strike safely onto the frame;
  • and nobody can disregard the power of a smile on the face of a supporter – young or old – as they watch this magnificent game.

Based on the above FACTS, we embark on a short journey examining the things within the sport that make me smile. Let me know if you concur.

A drawing of a football (soccer) ball on green grass in grunge style with a red euro sign

Ball handling

I’m sturdy, old and unskilled. Further, I would never be called dainty. So it’s almost like watching a top-hatted guy pulling a krugerrand from a bloke’s ear, each and every time I see Mo pull the ball back away from a defender; Bobby turn into a centrifuge delivering the ball precisely between legs and feet and boots; or Thiago touch the ball 117 times in the span of three passes and four yards. I could never do that and it amazes and pleases me.

Teamwork

Familiar with the Joker? I crack a smile THAT wide when I see the entire side working in concert. It’s a symphony of volleying and passes and so many triangles you’d think the world was constructed of pyramids and pizza slices. And then, as the snapping of the ball back and forth reaches a crescendo, someone – Jota, Salah, Mane, Luiz – flicks their foot out like a serpent and buries the ball in the back of the net. That makes me smile.

Pub Life

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s not a Jeff column without waxing romantic about being in the pub and singing songs and eating a bunch of animal parts. Hold on there skippy, there’s a real difference to watching matches at the pub and listening to XM/Sirius in your electric car in a pandemic.

The better way to enjoy Liverpool and the EPL is by adhering to my match-day pub checklist. Provided here for anyone without pub experience.

a – Check… match time; match day weather (here); match day weather (there)

b – Based on weather here, select clothes for standing outside for up to an hour

c – Based on weather there, bring up Draftkings and set some lineups and bets

d – Coordinate arrival with LFC members and mates

e – Start electric car and start kettle

f – Select and put on kit and related LFC gear

g – Pour water into LFC mug with two Irish Breakfast tea bags

h – Doublecheck DVR to ensure any TV matches are being recorded

i – Pour milk over the tea (per Rebecca Lowe) and drive to the pub

The place I watch is Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, MA. Your mileage may vary, and I believe this is one of the top seven pubs in the world to watch a match. It’s about 31 minutes away from me on a Sunday morning – it’s about 50 minutes on a weekday afternoon.

Not dining (or walking) alone at my local pub. Waiting for the match.

j – Arrive near the pub and select parking. Sundays are free, so I park as close as possible without wasting time circling

k – I gear up and bring a folding chair, blanket, scarf and my tea to the line. Usually the pub doors open 30-60 minutes before the opening whistle. I try to arrive in the 40-minute window. I’m usually first in line.

l – Doors open and I sling my scarf on a chair, throw my coat on the bench seat across from the chair, put my LFC mug on the table, stride to the bathroom with purpose….and then I’m ready for the match excitement.

As the pub becomes one in voice and mission, I settle in to watch and be entertained. And this season has yet to disappoint. So, with joy in my heart and a smile on my face, I’ll continue being happy about Carabao and keep my fingers crossed for you know what. – #NOSPOILERS #NOJINX #YNWA

Let’s wrap up this season in style…..WITH A BIG RED SMILE!

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