Before I met Derek, I knew very little about soccer.
Like, it involved a ball, two goals, and a grassy playing field.
I didn’t grow up playing — or watching — the game, and the only time I actually kicked around a soccer ball, my friend accidentally kicked me in the left shin and fractured it. (So I get why players wear shin guards.)
Derek, on the other hand, lives and breathes the game. He’s played soccer most of his life — even in college — and would still be kicked around a ball had it not been for two knee surgeries and a distraction called his Ph.D.
And as a good girlfriend, I sat through a few televised matches and read about the World Cup. Lucky for him, I actually do enjoy sports. And lucky for him, I learned to really appreciate what he calls “the beautiful game.”
The last time we were in London, we caught the Tube to Emirates Stadium, home of the Arsenal Gunners, one of his favorite teams. On my urging — if you can believe that! — we bought very expensive tickets and sat through what’s really a truly English experience.
Premier League soccer — or football, as it’s called here — games are nothing like their American counterparts. For starters, they consist of two 45-minute (or so) halves; meaning, they only last about 90 minutes, not all day. And the spectators are more like college fanatics — they dress up, they cheer and sing, they stand the entire time. It’s really an experience.
So since we were back in London — and since Arsenal was playing that Sunday — we bought tickets from a slightly sketchy Russian (another story) and went to the league’s first derby of the season.
Follow my #CatTravels adventures in Europe and Japan on Twitter @thedailydish and on Instagram @catherinetoth.