Kicks and Kinks


I’m going to piggy back on Gary’s comments today because I too have fond memories of the Minnesota Kicks. I grew up in Omaha, but a good friend moved to Minneapolis  during Junior High. I later visited in the summer of 1976 and was able to cross two events off of my dream list.


In June we wandered through the smoky Met Stadium parking lot wondering how we could score some beers before the Kicks-Cosmos game. We didn't find beer, but we did come within five feet of Pele after the game as he exited the visitors' locker room to board the bus. The game.  I remember Geoff Barnett, but Ace Ntsoelengoe and Alan Wiley were the stars I would have put on the ticket. 


In July I returned to see Elton John at the St. Paul Civic Center at the peak of his stardom.


Day 10: The Games
I watched the last six minutes of the Germany-Sweden game. Damn. Good teams know how to win (and no-calls in the box don’t hurt).


Tomorrow Poland face Colombia in a must-win game for both teams. Japan and Senegal will hope to book passage to the next rounds. England face Panama and is capable of any kind of face plant, but it’s likely the only drama in this group will be which order England-Belgium finish.


On to the Beer
Zywiec because that’s what I have in the fridge. I wish I had their tasty porter instead. 



 Young and Innocent Days

Artist: The Kinks 

Nation: England

Album: Arthur (Or The Decline And Fall Of The English Empire) 1969


I played soccer one season as a kid. It was right when the idea of soccer started to catch in the United States. My community’s youth recreation program formed a league and my friend’s dad agreed to coach. 

It was misery, from the start. Nobody - neither adults nor kids — had the first idea about what this game was, except for having watched a match or two of the long-defunct Minnesota Kicks playing in the long-defunct North American Soccer League at the soon-to-be-demolished Metropolitan Stadium. 

They kitted us in surplus (American) football uniforms that were made from incredibly thick, dense, brown polyester. It was summer, and it was hot. And the strategy was basically 20 players on the ball, and everyone else’s shins, at all times. No wonder I hated it and never played again. 


Somewhere up in my attic, I believe I still have an autographed picture of English goalkeeper Geoff Barnett, who understudied for Arsenal and Everton from 1962-1976 before lining up between the sticks for the Kicks and even managing them in their swan song year of 1981. How weird must the late-70s Midwest have been for these guys? Wikipedia tells me he returned to England and ran a pub before retiring. 

Why do I have that picture, you ask?


I have that picture for the very predicable reason of having backed Geoff Barnett for president in my Cub Scout pack’s mock 1976 presidential election. As one does. 


Here’s how it went down. The other party had beaten us to the Fran Tarkenton punch, damn them. My genius idea was that we could stun and charm the electorate by actually persuading our candidate to show up on the night of the balloting, thus securing a storied upset that would still be talked about. Having persuaded my skeptical friends, I wrote eagerly to the Kicks with what seemed to be an easy, consent-agenda sort of request. 


And I sat back and waited for the orange and blue motorcade to stun Spring Lake Park. 


To my surprise they turned me down. But to make up for it, they graciously shipped to my home a giant box of what I’m convinced must still stand to this day as the single largest collection of Geoff Barnett promotional materials ever assembled for any purpose. The gym was plastered with it. 


Of course he lost. But only narrowly. And think — I’d nearly defeated the most popular pro athlete in Minnesota, for the office of president of the United States, by fielding a journeyman English goalkeeper who’d only been in America about 10 months. I never got back to playing soccer, and I never got back into politics. 


When I started writing this, I had every intention of using today’s post to explicate my disdain for cheap handball penalties in the box. And I’d built an elaborate pathway between that and Portuguese fado music. 


But today the beautiful game took me elsewhere — to wring what I could from my own meager store of football memories. What must the Cup evoke, I wonder, for the millions who can claim legit nostalgia cred? 


Mr. Barnett, sir, I’m sorry I let you down. Good luck against Panama on Sunday. I sincerely hope you’re enjoying the tournament. 

Peter’s Kitchen

 Smoked haddock with mashed parsnips and green beans.


One of my favorite pub meals in the UK was this delicious smoked haddock with mashed parsnips and green beans. I settled in on a damp day and had to ask the ladies at the next table what the mash was. Some ideas: smoked haddock; mashed parsnips . 



FIFA will levy a hefty fine on the Swedish national team for complaining about the VAR. 

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