Vandamme and the Manchester boys
From Heston Services to Barcelona Ã¢ÂÂ where I spend most of my time Ã¢ÂÂ via a Ã¢ÂÂ¨ÃÂ£50 taxi to Gatwick airport. I bumped into Liam Austin on the Easyjet, a 26-year-old Australian who used to play for Ã¢ÂÂ¨Sydney United in AustraliaÃ¢ÂÂs National Soccer Ã¢ÂÂ¨League. He now lives in Barcelona and is the main striker for The Celtic Ã¢ÂÂ¨Cross, a rival team of ours in the Barcelona International Football League.
Since 2006 IÃ¢ÂÂve run a team called Ã¢ÂÂManchester La FiannaÃ¢ÂÂ. Manchester United sorted us out with kits and La Fianna is the name of the bar which sponsorsÃ¢ÂÂ¨us. Our squad is made up of players from 13 different countries, ranging from Ã¢ÂÂ¨the 37-year-old former captain of the Belize national team, to aÃ¢ÂÂ¨ couple of hopeful young West Africans who are hoping to get legal papers to live in Spain.
Our captain is Hans Vandamme, a 24-year-old Belgian who represented his country at U16 and U18 level and was a professional withÃ¢ÂÂ¨ Anderlecht for two years. Barcelona seems to attract footballers who want a change of scene and I do my utmost to Ã¢ÂÂ¨attract the best ones, after first explaining to them that they wonÃ¢ÂÂt be Ã¢ÂÂ¨receiving a penny to play for us. Ã¢ÂÂ¨
We do alright Ã¢ÂÂ 4th out of 24th in our first season and weÃ¢ÂÂre flying this year Ã¢ÂÂ but I think IÃ¢ÂÂve bitten off more than I can chew this week. Without a league fixture, IÃ¢ÂÂve accepted anÃ¢ÂÂ¨ invitation to play against Strommen IF, a Norwegian third division team. They're finalising their pre-season plans with a Ã¢ÂÂ¨tour of Spain. We have a chain smoking 42-year-old Glaswegian centre-half.
At 34, IÃ¢ÂÂm no Lionel Messi and IÃ¢ÂÂm considering dropping myself from right-back to the bench tomorrow as IÃ¢ÂÂve not trained properly this week. StrommenÃ¢ÂÂsÃ¢ÂÂ¨ website shows pictures of Ã¢ÂÂ¨hundreds of fans with flags and flares, we have 10 or so girls who watch us Ã¢ÂÂ¨because they fancy Hans.Ã¢ÂÂ¨
Don't think we're not taking this seriously though. IÃ¢ÂÂve put the word around for Ã¢ÂÂ¨more support and 23 players have declared themselves fit for Ã¢ÂÂ¨selection. High-flying Espanyol have let us use their training ground for the match Ã¢ÂÂ¨and I had Strommen, who are staying up the coast in Lloret de Mar, scouted last night. IÃ¢ÂÂll let you know how we do on Monday.