Today marked the official start of the English Premier League season. With MLS in full swing and the World Cup over the anticipation of the new year from abroad was high. My team, Everton, made a very bold and expensive move in signing a genuine permanent striker in Romalu Lukaku, who had been with Chelsea, but who played with Everton last season. Expectation are high for the Toffees, can they break into the lauded top four of the league?
When I walked into Fourth Street Bar and Grill this morning to watch the match with a crowd of people, I had no idea what to expect. There were already fans of Manchester United in barstools as they watched their team lose their match to Swansea. Their fans exited quickly after the final whistle and fans of the other matches began to show up.
There were a few dozen people in the bar at 10AM on a Saturday morning. Truth be known, mostly white men, but we were all trying to be awake, and were quite civil with each other.
In my six years of being a soccer fan, I have never seen a supporter of Sunderland in the flesh. Somehow, there were half a dozen Sunderland fans in Columbus. It was unreal. Also representing were Leicester, Aston Villa, West Ham, and Tottenham (along with the Columbus Crew). Quite a broad number of jerseys that were not the big four of English soccer. People were paying attention to all of the matches, even Hull vs. QPR.
As for the Everton support. At first it was myself and another guy. Which is not surprising. I've only met three people in town who are fans - a guy named Corey and a gal named Rebekah. It's usually Corey who is the only person showing support for Everton in a bar full of people. But then another person showed up, then two more, and another. All told there were eleven people who were there to see Everton, enough to field a team!
So we introduced ourselves, talked about the Ohio Toffees Twitter account, the availability of Kone and Orviedo, the injury to Barkley, which got a horrible update later in the day, and getting older Everton shirts.
The result was not what we wanted, a 2-2 draw with newly promoted Leicester, but we're hopeful for the season. It's only one match, and there are thirty seven more.