Soccer And The International Day Of Happiness

Published: Mar 20, 2014 13:29pm EDT
By Jason Bardwell, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Mar 20, 2014 @ 01:29pm EDT


Were you feeling any happier today? Work went well for you or school was a breeze? It should have been because not only was today the first day of spring but according to the United Nations it is also the International day of happiness.


I am sure that the relatives of Malaysian airline MH370 and, in particular, the citizens of the Ukraine may not be fully behind the United Nations as it marks its June 2012 resolution this year. Luckily I do not write about the events in politics or world issues but soccer, and that is a much easier subject in which to find happiness.


Manchester United is not the most likely place to start considering the domestic season they have been having this past season. However a hat trick from Robin Van Persie at Old Trafford last night booked United’s place in the Quarter Finals of the Champions League. Going into the game with a 2-0 deficit the Dutchman erased and then overtook the Greek champions to give the United fans something to celebrate. To many who argued that RVP was the band aid needed for the side to lift last years Premier League trophy may look at it being a similar story for last night. For right now though I would suggest we listen to the words of Bob Marley and ‘Don’t worry, be happy’.


Arsenal fans should also be happy because for the first time in a long time they are in the middle of March and still in the title race along with the fact they are two wins away from lifting the FA Cup, the first time they would have won the competition for almost a decade.


This side of the pond we have the fans of Houston who have won their first two games of the new MLS season, scoring five goals and conceding zero. That is certainly something to smile at but also what about Toronto FC fans? Now they have USMNT star Michael Bradley and England International Jermain Defoe at their club and that certainly is not only a lift for them but also for the MLS as a whole I think.


The good news for US Soccer fans does not end with the domestic league though. Julian Green recently decided that he would pursue the chance to represent the United States Men’s National Team rather than Germany. The German-American striker could have chosen between the two but decided on the red, white and blue after German born American coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, managed to convince the 18 year old Bayern Munich player.


That takes us nicely to the World Cup coming up in the summer in a year where soccer never ends. Kicking off in 84 days the usual faces will be a new one in Bosnia and Herzegovina who qualified top of their group. Their draw put them in Group F along with Iran, Nigeria and Argentina and it will be against the two time World Champions on the 15th June. Star striker Edin Dzeko will relish performing on the biggest stage and in that first game will potentially come up against two of his three club team mates in Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta.


Heading back to England, the fans of Wigan of course will be heading back to an FA Cup Semi Final under new boss Uwe Rosler. Considering his health concerns only a few years ago (see article) then I am sure he is pretty happy right now and that would most likely go for the other Semi Final managers also. Premier League Hull City will face Sheffield United and either one to get there would be a great story.


For Hull City their future is far from secure. Relegation is an outside possibility and the controversy and fall out over the proposed name change it will be the first time since 1930 the team take part in an FA Cup Semi Final, and will be the first Final if they get there. Their manager, Steve Bruce, is a three time FA Cup winner as a player in 1990, 1994 and 1996 with Manchester United but never led out his side as a manager.


For Sheffield United, now in League One, the history is a bit richer. Winners four times before the Second World War their last win came in 1925 and were runners up twice more, all before the war. Their last visit to Wembley in the FA Cup ended in defeat to this years potential Final opponents, Arsenal. There are several reasons for this to be a great story for English football fans, not just because of the current position of the side. Managed by son of the great Brian Clough, Nigel has always been in his fathers shadow. Despite everything his father won while in his time as Manager of Nottingham Forest and others, he never actually had a team lift this particular trophy. In what will be ten years this year since his death, son Nigel is two wins away from potentially doing this, and two days before exactly 25 years since the Hillsborough disaster, in which his fathers Nottingham Forest was playing.


So no matter which team you support, even if they are not currently doing as well as you expect right now, there is always the potential for happiness around the corner. Its why we love sports. Didn’t make the play offs this year? Well there’s always next year! Got relegated this season? You can get back next season! Quotes from one of my favorite soccer films, ‘Fever Pitch’ (1997, Colin Firth and Ruth Gemmill) reinforces the mentality of the sports fan over and over again. ‘Three minutes to go and you’re 2-1 up in a semi final and you look around and you see all those thousands of faces contorted with fear, hope and worry......the whistle blows and everyone goes spare, and just for those few minutes, you are at the center of the whole world.’ That is the high for a sports fan but then it continues, ‘And the great thing is it comes round again. You lose the Cup Final in May, well there’s the third round to look forward to in January. And what’s wrong with that? It’s actually pretty comforting when you think about it.’


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