11292 Miles From Hillsborough
Die-hard Wednesdayite Keith Shackleton give us his view on life as an Owl exiled in Auckland, New Zealand - just 11,292 miles from his beloved Hillsborough...
The tail end of last season and all of the current one has been interesting, no? For me, not just from a footballing point of view, but because, for the first time in my life, I have to watch from afar.
It's a long way from New Zealand to S6. To be truthful, it's a long way from New Zealand to anywhere. Just next door to Australia, right? Nope, it's a three hour flight to Sydney.
In a rugby-obsessed country, footy is the game for ex-pats and immigrants (though oddly enough one of the highest-paid NZ sportsmen must be Ryan Nelsen of Blackburn, simply because of the lavish amounts of dosh splashed around The Premier League) but it does get a mention now and again on TV news and sports programmes. Hmm.. I get the impression footy isn't quite manly enough for yer regular beer-drinking sports fan over here. The New Zealand 'All-Whites' occasionally raise their game and get respectable results against lower-ranked international teams, which merits occasional coverage. The NZ Knights (the sole Kiwi representative in the Australian Hyundai League) get on the news quite often, because they're so bad!
So what are my options for viewing? Well, I see the odd goal from Arsenal, Man United or Chelsea on the national news.
And that's my lot, unless I get Sky, in which case I can see every live Premier League game you guys can, albeit at odd times of the day or night, and mercifully pundit-free. No Championship at all.
If I want to see or hear the Owls, it's Wednesday World in the middle of the night, the BBC's live text service, the Sky web site's live scoreboard, my mobile phone for results, and anything else I can find on the net (the quality of Nick's match reports brought me to Vital SWFC).
Which makes it quite a bizarre dislocated sensation: grasping at every bit of news I can find and chatting on the forum, but never actually getting any kind of satisfactory live footy experience. I wasn't a Hillsborough regular by any means living in Brighton in the UK, but at least I had that option. So next time you're freezing in the stands at half time, eating a pie of dubious origin, having accidentally spilt your Bovril and the boys are a goal down… think how lucky you are!
Mind you, we do have a NZ Lottery: winning would mean I could get an Owls season ticket and one for Air New Zealand too.. but it would mean spending almost the entire season at 30000 feet in a 747 flying back and forth.
So watch out: if there's a jetlagged sunken-eyed rambling unshaven bloke in the seat next to you, it might be me.