In my youth (sadly I am four days away from turning 32 so I can speak of youth in the past) an encyclopaedic knowledge of all that was football was something I considered an asset acquired without difficulty. I would pore through the Almanacco del Calcio Illustrato and the Rothman’s Football Yearbook for hours on end, never getting bored. Whether it was the colours of Brighton and Hove Albion or the meaning of the acronym S.P.A.L. there was always something new to learn.
Best of all there was the old format Champion’s Cup, UEFA Cup and Cup Winner’s Cup. They were the true door to geographical appreciation. That is why I can still tell you where Jena is. True, I also would get to know that Napoleon fought a battle there in 1806 but then again the Corsican took his troubles all over Europe so there’s no guaranteeing which part of the continent it is just by looking at the Napoleonic meanderings. No – the only way to know where Jena is is by recalling the great East German team – Karl Zeiss Jena – sponsored by the Carl Zeiss factory.
Same goes for many other otherwise anonymous towns and cities: Ballymena, Plovdiv, Vladikavkaz, Split, Lodz, Mechelen, Norkopping, Ujpest (really a district not a town) and many many more. Call them United, Lokomotiv, Alaniya, Hajduk, Widzew and Doza and suddenly they have a life of their own. So here’s a little game for you footie lovers (and google killjoys)… I give a footballing name and you guess the town and country… thus Ballymena United is an Irish team from Ballymena and Hajduk Split is Croatian (from Split)…
No prizes for guessing.. just try and see how many you can get:
1. Turun Palloseura
3. Queen of the South
6. Willem II
10. Crvena Zvezda
Outsider (non-European): The Strongest