ATHENS — It is about time I told you what I have really been doing here the past few months. It hasn’t all been visits to archaeological sites and meditations on the contemporary relevance of antiquity. Today I’d like to put ancient history on hold for a moment and move from the past right into the present.
It might be objected that what I have been writing is a series of postcards, perhaps with lots of local color and historical background, but nonetheless a kind of high-end philosophical tourism from famous Athenian locations. Perhaps this can’t be avoided. I am, after all, a foreigner and a temporary resident. And this city’s monuments, with their beauty and historical grandeur, exert a pull like virtually no others. But is there perhaps a better way of connecting with ordinary Athenians, with their habits and routines? Maybe I could get closer to their lives in the vast modern Agora of this metropolis through a common passion. A passion for soccer. And what site could be more ordinary than a pub?
I am a lifelong fan of Liverpool Football Club and spend much more time than I care to confess watching games, reading about soccer, listening to podcasts and watching endless YouTube clips of highlights, news conferences and often rather tedious match analysis. I will talk to any poor soul I can find about my team and about theirs, although I prefer mine. Yet — much to my constant amazement — there exist people in the world who do not care for the beautiful game.
Liverpool were playing the day after I arrived in Athens in early January. I urgently needed to find out where to watch live games because the TV in my apartment was pretty basic. On the morning of match day, I dipped into the internet and discovered a promising-looking Facebook page for “The Pan-Hellenic Liverpool Friends Club.” I sent a message, more in hope than expectation.
Three minutes later, I got a reply: “Good morning m8. You can meet us in the Wee Dram pub. It is a Scottish pub. Ask for John.”
I got there early and asked for John. It was like meeting a long-lost friend. John Skotidas founded the official Liverpool supporters club in 1995 and has been running it ever since with a good deal of organizational skill. It has 1,100 members, and Liverpool are the most popular English team in Greece. I’ve gotten to know John quite well in the time I have been here. He was an aircraft engineer with the Greek Air Force for 27 years, before retiring at age 46 to pursue his other passion, watching and talking about soccer. John even has his own YouTube channel. He became a Liverpool fan after seeing the Beatles on TV when he was a kid in the late 1960s. He just liked the name “Liverpool.” It sounded good. When he was 10 years old, he watched them play for the first time against Newcastle United in the FA Cup final in 1974 and decided to support them. He has been a fan ever since.
I also met a number of other people in the bar on that first day: Scotty, Kris, Spiros (who promotes Bollywood movies in Greece, which are apparently pretty popular) and a bunch of other Greek fans. I watched my first game with them on Jan. 12, Liverpool versus Brighton. It was an edgy match, but with a confident defensive display from us, we won 1-0 (“one-nil”).
Since then, I’ve watched an awful lot of games at the Wee Dram, and it has developed into a ritual of sorts. I have a talked a fair bit about the nature of ritual in this series, whether the processional pomp of the City of Dionysia, the Divine Liturgy of Mount Athos or the Greater Mysteries of Eleusis. Watching soccer is an undoubtedly lesser mystery, with a more humble and humdrum set of ritual actions, but they also have meaning. And every fan has their rituals and superstitions.
Before leaving the apartment, I carefully select my Liverpool shirt, track suit or scarf (depending on the weather, but I always look a teensy bit ridiculous) and walk to Syntagma or Constitution Square. I descend into the underworld of the subway system, take the four stops to Panormou station, buy a piece of spanakopita or sumptuous spinach pie from the bakery, walk slowly uphill eating it, get to the Wee Dram, push open the door, scan the room for seats and look for John. He’s always sitting in the same spot (it’s a superstition, he told me), just next to the big TV, head down, looking at his phone. Although I always try to get there early, the place is usually packed. John seems to have a secret supply of stools that he will whip out if a regular comes in late and the place is too crammed with fans.
John gives the nod, says a few words, and a seat opens up. I shake hands with everyone, ask them how they are doing, head to the bar, buy a pint of Murphy’s (they don’t sell Guinness), sit down and check the WhatsApp connection with my son Edward in London. We exchange a couple of short messages like “I’m in position. You?” and then discuss the team lineup and usually wonder why our German coach Juergen Klopp has included or left out a player we particularly like. The Wi-Fi tends to keep dropping, which occasions much dashing out into the street.
The Wee Dram is owned by Ross, who incidentally used to play for the Scottish national basketball team (I didn’t know they had one) and supports Hearts of Midlothian. To each their own. The pub has two main areas, a glass-walled central room where you can buy drinks, which is where the younger lads tend to gather, standing together in small groups, often wearing Liverpool shirts, and a larger outside area with older fans, sitting or standing. I prefer to sit, at least until something really exciting happens and then I stand and retreat backward to the door of the pub, so I don’t block anyone’s view. For reasons that completely escape me, I often crouch with my arms at a right angle and fists softly clenched. It’s almost an attitude of prayer.
There’s a large wooden central rectangular table with benches where the hard-core fans sit, with John in pole position, top left. Most of them are smoking (Athens is a great place to pick up a passive smoking habit. Smoking is banned, of course, but Greeks tend to do what they want), drinking beer or coffee and betting online on their phones. Just behind the central table is another, smaller table with about four or five seats, marked “reserved” (although it turns out that all the tables are “reserved”). This is where I sit, usually with some familiar faces. We talk to one another as much as we can, in broken English and fragmentary Greek, but in great detail about the qualities of particular players, tactics, formation and the strength of the opposition. Although we don’t really know one another that well, there is an immense of feeling of familiarity, affection and trust.
For the non-fan, it’s hard to explain how detailed these discussions are and the extraordinary levels of knowledge that ordinary fans possess. Although this might sound stupid, there is an amazing rational intelligence to soccer talk, bolstered by a common passion for the team that we all love.
The teams emerge, I sit up straight, and there is the usual fluff of TV commercials and dumb graphics before kickoffs. We all clap when the whistle blows, and then we enter the shared and strangely meditative flow of the game. Things get really quiet. There is always an odd experience of tension in watching a game with a group of fellow fans, waiting for your team to score or at least have a shot or engage in a compelling passage of play. The TV in the Wee Dram has useless speakers, and it is a real strain to catch the Greek commentary. Not really understanding the words, I listen eagerly for the names, which have an almost magical aura: Van Dijk, Robertson, Sadio Mane, Milner, Alexander-Arnold.
Of course, there are a lot of complaints, when there is a misplaced pass or especially when our star forward player, Mohammed Salah, shoots and misses, which has been happening a lot of late. The most frequently heard word in the bar is “malakas.” Let’s just say this is a word with a wide range of semantic connotations, many of them connected with the sin of onanism. There is a visceral connection between soccer and swearing, and I am at my most disgustingly foul-mouthed when watching Liverpool play. I am not proud of this fact and often try to swallow the vowel after the first consonant of the bad word has spilled from my lips.
When we score, the place explodes. Skintight anxiety suddenly releases into ecstasy. Everyone leaps to their feet, with wild scenes of joy, hugging and loud cries. I high-five everyone around the table, often inaccurately. I don’t know why I do it. It’s not my style. But I started the habit at my first match in January and somehow feel obliged to continue because they expect it from me. It’s a little awkward.
When the opposing team score, there is absolute silence in the bar. Not a word. And barely any reaction. The mood shifts entirely and no one speaks for at least 10 seconds, then: “Malakas.”
My three months in Athens has been a very tense time to be a Liverpool fan. A six-point January lead in the English Premier League has been whittled away by the relentlessness of our main opponents and reigning champions, Manchester City, and the fact that we drew a number of games that we should have won. We’ve lost some of our flair, flow and attacking rhythm. But we’re still in there fighting, match by match, grinding out victories often with last-minute goals. A nerve-shredding experience.
Today, March 31, is an absolutely vital game. I arrive very early at the Wee Dram, about 45 minutes before kickoff, around 5:45 p.m. There is a lot of banter, more beer is being drunk than usual, and servers slide through the crowd setting down pizzas that are always shared. Liverpool are playing Tottenham Hotspur, and my son Edward is at the Anfield Road stadium with his mate Ben watching live. Edward is a large part of the reason the fate of Liverpool Football Club in this season’s English Premier League matters so much to me. I deviously programmed him in his childhood years to support Liverpool, and he is now a better, more knowledgeable fan than I. But he has never seen Liverpool win the league; it is 29 years since it last happened. Liverpool won it 13 times during my first 30 years on planet Earth. But that history feels as ancient as Athens itself.
Spurs are a fine team. Some of my best friends are Spurs fans. They didn’t deserve to lose. But, very obligingly, they did, thanks to a goal-keeping blunder from the World Cup-winning French captain Hugo Lloris off a cheeky header from the sinuous Salah that ricocheted into the net off the shin of Toby Alderweireld in the 90th minute of the match. Call it luck, if you like. I choose to call it destiny.
It is hard to describe the feeling of sheer unconfined joy when your team wins. Everything is right with the world and the mind is free of any concern, distance or gnawing introspection. Here at the Wee Dram, there is a genuine feeling of warmth and solidarity among fans. Despite the linguistic limitations, we understand one another very well because we have a team in common. And there are 300 official Liverpool supporters clubs all around the world and countless other millions watching in whatever way they can. After the Spurs game, Ross played the Liverpool anthem, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Gerry and the Pacemakers and everyone sang along, bellowing out of tune at the top of their voices. It was really something.
I realize that such rituals are pretty stupid, shallow and far too sentimental, but at such moments I feel a real sense of disinhibited belonging, and other people feel the same.
After the song climaxed and the final chorus faded, I finished my beer and looked for John to say goodbye. But he’d already left.
Will we win the league? Probably not. Manchester City are a better football team. But today we won. I don’t so much walk as glide down the hill to the subway station, texting with Edward and reading the early match reports. I pick up a loaf of bread at the bakery and head back into the center of the city. Life is good.
Athens in Pieces is an eight-part philosophical tour of the ancient city. The entire series can be found here.
Simon Critchley is a professor of philosophy at the New School for Social Research and the author of “What We Think About When We Think About Soccer” and the forthcoming “Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us.” He is the moderator of The Stone.
Now in print: “Modern Ethics in 77 Arguments” and “The Stone Reader: Modern Philosophy in 133 Arguments,” with essays from the series, edited by Peter Catapano and Simon Critchley, published by Liveright Books.
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护民图库乖乖图深圳【刘】【兰】【芳】【立】【马】【就】【认】【出】【了】**【祥】【就】【是】【当】【年】【那】【个】【与】【芳】【华】【相】【恋】【的】【天】【使】，【害】【怕】【芳】【华】【和】【芳】【华】【孩】【子】【的】【事】【会】【被】**【祥】【知】【道】。 【刘】【兰】【芳】【瞬】【间】【慌】【了】，【立】【马】【退】【掉】【了】【和】**【祥】【的】【婚】【事】。【转】【而】【与】【一】【直】【追】【求】【她】【的】【许】【立】【结】【婚】【了】。 【并】【借】【口】【说】【是】【她】【的】【父】【母】【不】【让】**【祥】【和】【她】【结】【婚】，【非】【要】【她】【和】【许】【立】【结】【婚】，【她】【也】【是】【迫】【不】【得】【已】【才】【和】【许】【立】【结】【了】【婚】，【并】【在】【婚】【后】【与】【许】【立】【孕】
【居】【然】【是】【活】【人】，【能】【够】【正】【常】【沟】【通】？ 【许】【纤】【纤】【先】【是】【一】【愣】，【随】【后】【将】【即】【将】【出】【鞘】【的】【小】**【按】【了】【回】【去】，【点】【了】【点】【头】：“【我】【是】【被】【拉】【入】【这】【个】【噩】【梦】【的】【人】【类】，【你】【们】【知】【道】【怎】【么】【从】【这】【里】【脱】【离】【出】【去】【吗】？” 【女】【孩】【说】【的】【很】【慢】，【话】【语】【里】【还】【带】【着】【一】【些】【语】【法】【错】【误】，【但】【并】【不】【妨】【碍】【杰】【克】【统】【领】【的】【理】【解】。 【他】【先】【是】【一】【惊】，【上】【下】【打】【量】【了】【几】【眼】【女】【孩】，【似】【乎】【在】【辨】【认】【什】【么】，【在】【感】
【姿】【态】【优】【美】【的】【风】【翼】，【身】【姿】【轻】【盈】【地】【在】【星】【空】【中】【翱】【翔】，【对】【于】【身】【后】【即】【将】【到】【来】【的】【危】【机】，【仿】【佛】【毫】【无】【所】【觉】【的】【模】【样】，【然】【而】，【季】【柚】【眸】【光】【一】【凝】： 【来】【了】！ 【沈】【长】【青】【驾】【驶】【着】【古】【董】【机】【甲】，【在】【一】【瞬】【间】【俯】【冲】【向】【风】【翼】，【眼】【看】【着】【要】【撞】【上】【之】【际】，【古】【董】【机】【甲】【突】【然】【顿】【了】【顿】。 【也】【正】【在】【这】【一】【刻】，【风】【翼】【的】【炮】【筒】，【对】【准】【了】【古】【董】【机】【甲】【的】【驾】【驶】【舱】。 【驾】【驶】【舱】【内】，【沈】【长】【青】【眉】
(【张】【伟】【育】)【为】【确】【保】【南】【昌】【市】2019【年】【马】【拉】【松】【赛】【事】【顺】【利】【进】【行】，【也】【为】【马】【拉】【松】【参】【与】【者】【加】【油】【助】【威】，2019【年】11【月】10【日】【上】【午】7【点】【钟】，【沙】【井】【社】【区】【组】【织】【志】【愿】【者】【在】【马】【拉】【松】【赛】【场】【开】【展】“【畅】【享】【激】【情】【马】【拉】【松】、【建】【设】【幸】【福】【南】【昌】【城】”【主】【题】【志】【愿】【活】【动】，【为】【马】【拉】【松】【助】【力】。护民图库乖乖图深圳【时】【阳】【笑】【着】【摇】【摇】【头】，“【这】【招】【对】【我】【没】【用】，【你】【林】【大】【小】【姐】【的】【面】【子】【允】【许】【你】【在】【这】【样】【的】【地】【方】【干】【这】【事】【儿】【吗】？” “【那】【又】【怎】【么】【样】？【只】【要】【我】【们】【能】【在】【一】【起】。” 【林】【思】【边】【说】，【边】【摇】【摇】【摆】【摆】【地】【要】【站】【起】【来】，【准】【备】【去】【够】【时】【阳】。 【时】【阳】【皱】【眉】【头】，【还】【没】【想】【好】【怎】【么】【办】。 【手】【比】【思】【维】【更】【快】。 【他】【直】【接】【从】【包】【里】【掏】【出】【随】【身】【准】【备】【的】【绳】【子】，【反】【手】【就】【将】【秦】【暖】【暖】【捆】【在】【地】
【最】【后】【只】【剩】【暗】【影】【冰】【狮】【的】【真】【身】，【在】【滚】【滚】【岩】【浆】【和】【熊】【熊】【火】【焰】【的】【二】【重】【攻】【击】【中】，【跳】【起】【了】【烫】【脚】【舞】。 【无】【论】【是】【岩】【浆】【还】【是】【火】【焰】，【都】【是】【幻】【术】，【但】【这】【个】【幻】【术】【没】【有】【那】【么】【简】【单】，【幻】【术】【里】【的】【火】【焰】【能】【够】【实】【打】【实】【的】【对】【暗】【影】【冰】【狮】【进】【行】【物】【理】【攻】【击】，【而】【且】，【在】【清】【欢】【创】【造】【的】【这】【个】【幻】【术】【里】【的】【火】【和】【岩】【浆】…… 【独】【角】【兽】【眯】【起】【眼】【睛】，【它】【有】【些】【不】【可】【置】【信】，【它】【并】【没】【有】【身】【处】【清】【欢】【所】
【消】【失】【这】【段】【时】【间】，【我】【有】【必】【要】【交】【代】【一】【下】。 【首】【先】，【对】【不】【起】【那】【些】【订】【阅】【打】【赏】【的】【读】【者】，【我】【不】【知】【道】【你】【们】【还】【在】【不】【在】【了】。 15【号】【那】【天】，【我】【早】【上】【六】【点】【起】【来】【码】【字】。 【八】【点】【需】【要】【去】【跑】【工】【作】【地】【点】，【但】【是】【打】【开】【书】【一】【看】【章】【节】【说】： 【一】【堆】【没】【订】【阅】【过】【本】【书】【的】【喷】【子】【留】【言】，【带】【节】【奏】【带】【得】【挺】【开】【心】【的】【啊】。 【熬】【了】【那】【么】【久】，【感】【谢】【你】【们】【让】【我】【顿】【时】【心】【态】【崩】【了】。