The NHL lockout isn’t even two full weeks old, but I’ve already mentally abandoned the season. It’s just better for my sanity to assume the entire thing isn’t going to happen and then be pleasantly surprised should a season occur. I’ve done the reverse twice already – waiting day-by-day for announcements and hoping against hope that they’d settle. Life’s too short for self-inflicted anxiety.
Still, I need something to do other than tackle the mess that once was my basement. I’ll probably pay cursory attention to the AHL, something less than that to the KHL and none at all to football other than CFL playoff games and maybe the Super Bowl.
Something needs to be a focal point.
I’ve been trying to make that focal point soccer, or football, depending on your purity of thought. About 25 years ago, I declared myself a fan of Arsenal, though it was the sort of fandom that didn’t involve actually watching any games or having the slightest idea who was on the team. It also didn’t involve cheering when they won or grumbling when they lost because I generally had no idea which of them was occurring at any given moment. I make no claim to have been a good fan in any sense of the word. When Adebayor left, it was probably a good year before I found out.
Opportunity knocks, though, and it seems to me that it could be an interesting experience to try to learn something about the team I’ve nominally followed for a quarter century. I acquired my first vintage soccer card (I also collected the 1990 Pro Set release, which was probably the last time I really tried learning anything) and it is proudly displayed above. I’ve paid attention each time they’ve played this year and actually know their record. I can name a handful of players and the coach. I’m clearly very proud of myself.
But I’m a history guy at heart and I have on hand a card for a player I’ve never heard of representing a team I barely know. Time to learn (off to wikipedia I go, loading, loading, dreaming of faster laptop… here we go).
(Note – here be learning.)
George Armstrong played for my team forever. He signed with them as a teen and grew up in their system, making his first appearance with the big club before he was even 20. An old-school winger who seems to have been a solid but not spectacular scorer, who played a complete, consistent game and thrived under both offensive and defensive-minded schemes, George was a classy player who had memorable roles with a number of championship teams.
Armstrong joined a team that wasn’t all that great, but was building. He stayed with them through their rise and, sadly, an eventual decline again. Retiring as one of the all-time leaders in games played, he’d later return to the squad as a coach. He’s one of the beloved figures in team history. Nobody seems to have a bad word to say about him.
(As a note with respect to the team, I should note too that when it was at its best, it played a choke-you-to-death defensive game that was decried by some as boring, but hey, it worked and was technically excellent.)
All of this is new to me, yet it’s remarkably familiar. Reading this, it’s as though they’re describing – oh, I don’t know – maybe this guy…
I feel right at home already. This might work out okay.
I find it fascinating that these cards expected you to fill in your own stats. This set is a touch tricky to find. I’m looking at building it, but don’t even know yet how big it is.