I was once described as a “football nut” and I’m not sure what that entails, but basically I LOVE football. Ever since I saw Norman Whiteside score for Northern Ireland against Algeria in the 1986 World Cup I have been a football fan. Firstly I played it – at any given moment. At some point or other I realised I was never going to make it as a professional so I stuck to watching. Not just armchair watching, actively supporting. But now I’m a world traveller, a self confessed “travel nut” so how on earth do I manage to keep up with football on my travels? Read on for my methods, hoping some of them will apply to fellow football mad travellers!
Those that know me will know that I have three main teams I support. OK so I’ll tell you a bit about them, but won’t bore you – I seriously hope my tips on keeping up to date with football can help make your decision to travel. I thought I couldn’t travel as I love football too much, but there are ways to get your football fix when you are a nomad! My teams:
1. Northern Ireland:
First and foremost I am a Northern Ireland fan. We are still the smallest country ever to qualify for the knockout stages of a World Cup. I went to EVERY Northern Ireland home match from 1997 – 2009, and selected away matches. In fact it was only on a break from Northern Ireland matches that I first travelled round the world on a big trip (in 2007). Since 2009 however I haven’t been to watch Northern Ireland live. So this has meant trying to catch up with the matches online from all over the world.
2. Glentoran FC:
My Dad was born in Glentoran Street in Belfast and Glentoran were the first club team I supported. I still try and keep up to date with every match and am proud to say I currently write for the Glentoran Gazette programme! I’ve my own column called “Globetrotting Glenman”.
3. AFC Bournemouth:
Bournemouth are the biggest club team I support. I became a Bournemouth obsessive whilst living in the English seaside town. I owned a season ticket for a few years and went home and away to watch them. In 2005 and 2008 I only missed ONE home match.. ON my only 2 days in England in the last 4 years, my visit was ONLY so I could go to a Cherries match!
Since 2003 I have lived away from Northern Ireland and since 2009 I have lived away from Europe so from corners of the world, I use the following 16 ways to keep up to date with football:
1. BBC Radio 5 Live Podcasts
These Podcasts on BBC Radio 5 Live, which currently are free and almost daily are basically what I rely on! The 5 Live Football Daily. The main reason I love these is, when I’m on the move I listen to them. While on buses, trains and walking I have my iPod on with the BBC Radio 5 Podcasts. This includes Alan Green’s 606 Phone in, Robbie Savage’s Doc Savage and Colin Murray’s show.
Download and Subscribe to the BBC Football Daily Podcasts here!
I’m on twitter and thankfully so are Glentoran FC – that is the best way to keep up to date with Glentoran – through the official Glentoran twitter feed! You can join them here to keep up with gossip at the Oval:
3. Wear Your Football Shirt
As odd as that sounds, this is one of the best ways to keep up to date with football, for one reason only – talking to people. Wearing a football shirt is a topic of discussion and an ice breaker. Picture the scene – you haven’t seen a football match for months and you turn up in a hostel in Paraguay and the guy in the kitchen is wearing a Man. City top – you talk to him. You get the latest news, you tell him some football gossip, you go for a beer and you also have a new friend. This is actually a very common football habit of mine, and to namedrop a mate that I met through this method, is Blackburn Rovers fan Anthony Moulden who I met in Ecuador.
4. Drink in Sports Bars
Every now and then you get lucky and find a decent sports bar to catch a live match. I won’t name the exact bars and cities I have watched football in, but I wouldn’t imagine many have watched a live match in Gaborone in Botswana.
5. Drink in Irish Pubs
Love them or hate them, Irish pubs provide great craic, great food, friendly banter and quite often live football!! I hadn’t seen a live match for a while and then ended up watching Liverpool v. Udinese in the Wild Rover in La Paz, Bolivia a few years back.
6. Text Your Mates
I text a few friends who live in England and Northern Ireland, though slowly this is moving to Facebook to save money, but for the big games I still text Dan Darch for Bournemouth results and Richard Ingram for Northern Ireland results.
7. Check Your Facebook Feed
Yes, Facebook feed is a great source of football updates, I have over 1,000 contacts on my own Facebook page and they regularly update the feed with everything from transfer news to matches being postponed, indeed my mate Ian McKinney notified me recently of a postponed Glentoran match via Facebook!
8. Go to Football Matches
Just because I travel around, doesn’t stop me going to football matches, and I try to go as often as I can. Whether it’s Uruguay, Australia or Hong Kong, in recent times, I’ve surprised even myself at how many matches I can actually attend. Only last month I watched the Unofficial Football World Championship final between Hong Kong and North Korea
Believe it or not, I ended up watching a few matches live on Skype as I had no other way at the time of getting the matches (my live streaming option was down). I phoned my parents and they turned their laptop to the TV in their house and I watched the match live!
10. Live Web Streaming
Live webstreamsing is good on the short term for a 90 minute match, but ultimately damaging to your computer virus wise I assume! Having recently had a lot of computer problems, I have guessed that my live streaming has partly caused this. There is also the problem of intermittent coverage and I have missed goals and red cards before sue to the stream cutting out. Sites I did use (and may do again at some point):
11. Stare at the BBC Vidiprinter
You really cannot go wrong with the BBC vidi-printer on the BBC website. I grew up in the era when 4.45 pm on a Saturday afternoon was the most exciting part of my week. When the scores simultaneously come in. I love it – the BBC website is the best current site for me to do this on.
12. Football Fans Forums!
Not sure why this is one of the last on my list, when it should rank higher as I get to chat or communicate online with fellow fans. My favourite football fans forum by a mile is the excellent Our Wee Country Forum, run by Marty Lowry. It is an excellent place to talk about my beloved Northern Ireland team and any chance I get a spare moment, I log on, have a read, have a rant, submit a few comments and keep up to date!
13. Write Travel Articles for Football Magazines
I currently write a regular column for the Glentoran Gazette, which means I get a PDF copy of each match programme e-mailed to me. An excellent read and the only way I can realistically keep up to date with events at the Oval in Belfast. I have also written a number of articles for Happy Days, a Northern Ireland fanzine. Local fans love to hear about a nomad travelling footie fan so ask your team if you can have a regular column the way I do. (I also send travel photos of me wearing my Bournemouth shirt to the AFC Bournemouth programme).
14. Visit Football Stadiums!
I love visiting football stadiums on my travels and try my best to do one in every city. My recent exploits have taken me to the highest national football stadium in the world – Estadio Hernando Siles in Bolivia where I sneaked inside and stood on the pitch!!
15. Supporters Clubs!
Either form one or join one and you’ll meet a load of other football fans. I have formed Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs now in three different continents on my travels. These have provided me with loads of memories and a ton of new mates and football experiences.
My recent exploits have involved forming the Hong Kong Northern Ireland Supporter’s Club, meeting ex-Glentoran player Robbie Craig in Sydney and also meeting Spencer Prior at an event in Sydney, Australia.
16. Adopt a local team!
When you are temporarily based in a town or city, simply seek out the local team and make them your team. I went to three matches while living with a family in Montevideo in Uruguay back in 2010. I adopted Penarol as my team and still look out for their results!
That’s all for now, I’m off to the BBC Website to check the latest news from Dean Court…and by the way I make no apologies for the references to Northern Ireland, Glentoran and AFC Bournemouth! They are my teams and I love supporting them. You know what it’s like when you’re on the other side of the world…
ALL my football posts are here:
My favourite travel football posts 0n Don’t Stop Living:
Here are a few of my favourite videos watching football on my travels, love them!!:
Watching Glentoran v Man United live in a bar in Prague in 2007:
Watching Netherlands v. Northern Ireland in Delaney’s Irish Pub in Kowloon, Hong Kong in June 2012:
Watching Northern Ireland v. Estonia online in my hotel room in Bangkok, Thailand in October 2011:
Watching Penarol live in Montevideo, Uruguay in 2010:
Watching Live English Premier League in Finn McCools Irish Pub in Quito, Ecuador in 2010:
Standing on the pitch at the world’s highest national football stadium, Estadio Hernando Siles in La Paz, Bolivia:
Watching the Play Off Semi Final between Bournemouth and Huddersfield in my flat in Australia in 2011: