Friday, August 01, 2008

Beckham, the Barons and Spurs shirts ... oh, my!

Alex, Ben and I left the house at 7:15 a.m. on Saturday, July 19th and spent the day at Fort Dix in 97-degree heat as the lads were playing in the Central Jersey Invitational Cup as part of the South Jersey Barons summer select U-11 soccer team. We then headed up to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford to be among the 46,000 to watch the host New York Red Bulls tie David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy 2-2 in Major League Soccer that evening.
Commentator and fine human being Max Bretos of Fox Soccer Channel arranged "Family & Friends" passes for us, so were were able to be near the locker rooms and on the field level before and after the game. Beforehand, the lads met Galaxy coach -- and AC Milan and Holland legend -- Ruud Gullit. Afterward they got a huge hug from Bretos, who has followed their progress over the years with as much interest as a relative would. Max is truly one of the good guys out there in the media. He is genuine, not fake. Thanks, Max.
The boys also got a towel tossed to them from the Bulls' Juan Pablo Angel, and later got him to sign it. But the highlight was meeting Becks, who was classy and made small talk with the lads and all the other kids around. I shook "Our David's" hand and even made him laugh by asking him why an East London boy like himself didn't sign with West Ham!
The photos of Becks on the field were taken by Alex from our seats right on the corner flag. Steady photographer's hand from young Alex!
On Sunday, July 20th with the lovely Victoria along for the trip, it was out of the house at 8:30 a.m. to trek back to the extreme heat of Fort Dix for Day 2 of the Central Jersey Cup. The Barons boys made semifinals of their age group, where they turned in a great performance in defeating a Dutch Total Soccer academy team 4-1. The Barons boys then lost a heartbreaker to the MAPS select team in the final, 3-2. The Barons team (including Alex, Ben and Trevor "The Pony" Holak) is pictured above, receiving their second-place medals. Alex played ALL 300 MINUTES in the five games over the two days at left back. Ben started every match and every second half as a central midfielder and played about 80 percent of the total minutes. Home at 8 p.m. on the Sunday. A proud dad I very much was!
Fast forward one week: Alex, Ben and Trevor, along with massive Spurs fans Michael and Jonathan Sturman from England, won their Sunday group in our local Mainland United 3 v. 3 soccer tournament. After a tough opening 2 games, Dave "The Horse" Holak took over the tactical duties from me (hey, I still 'stretched' the lads!) and our boys -- competing as Tottenham, complete with "125 years" jerseys supplied by dad Jim Sturman; please know that I wore my No. 32 West Ham "Tevez" shirt in proud protest! -- went 3-0 with 28 goals scored and just 4 given up over the last 3 matches to grab first place in their group. Well done, the lads!