Unprofessional Foul


January 9, 2012

Oasis vs. Blur! The Definitive Guide to Britpop’s Biggest Feud (but, really…)

Still with this? Oasis won the battle, Albarn the war. Now read!

A girl I love once gave me a book as a gift. It was a good one, notable, but as she said in her inscription, not something I should bother reading. She was right and I never have, never once turning past the inky message on the flip-side of its paperback cover.

“It’s still wet paint,” she wrote there, describing the fragility and intoxicating fragrance of our young relationship. “I’m even still reading UF.”

Years have past, as they do, and that “paint” is long since dried, weathered, and peeled away. We applied new coats, again and again, until the canvas itself stiffened and cracked and gave way to something altogether different and lovely. I don’t think she’s read much of us lately. I’ve written less.

Soccer is not my first language. It’ll never be my best. A New York kid (not to be confused with THE NY Kid), I was raised to be fluent (and often unfortunately florid) in hockey, football, and baseball. Now, almost two decades after the American World Cup, about 10 years since I tied my perishable flesh to Spurs’ intractable fate, and at the end of more than three years with Unprofessional Foul, I feel at home in the game. I’ve stopped looking for equivalents. I speak, but more importantly, think in soccer.

I speak and think in a tongue not invented or perfected, but certainly developed and broadened by UF’s writers. James T will have more to say about our particular dialect and its genesis in his post later, but this site has never been about technique or, heavens, coherent essays and sensible grammar — I once tried to edit Ned, whose Norwichian screeds you might remember as having been like Joyce, but ridiculous. Once, I tried.

Whatever we’ve done here was forged in daily email threads. In talking to each other. At our peak, probably just after the 2008 European Championship, the group was exchanging hundreds of messages every day. That’s a lot of writing, almost all of it about the game and its soap operatic travails. There was, as the English are so fond of saying, banter, but there was also serious debate.

Ah, yes –  “serious debate.” The expression, in passing, connotes some kind of unsmiling argument — earnest discussion giving way to pragmatic deliberations. Is this serious? Nothing fun in that. But time with Unprofessional Foul could never be spent “in passing.” Here, one kept his head, existed and learned things. About soccer, certainly, but other more elemental stuff, too.

Blogging, for me, had been about bile or anti-bile. You were either toxic and anonymous or Will Leitch.

Neither seemed fun, so we did something different. We were serious, we were fun; it was possible.

There’s no payoff coming (beyond that), at least in this space. Not to you, loyal and intelligent as you’ve been, there for every bootroom, ready to pounce on every error, from dubious syntax to my fundamental fucking misunderstanding of the complications facing Bosnian football’s tri-partite governing body. And none for me, for now.

I’m not sure what this was all about except that I loved it and knew it would end. And now, finally and with everyone’s permission, Unprofessional Foul is doing just that.

I think it’s poor form to remark on an event as it unfolds (says the twitter fiend) or to discuss one’s feelings while simultaneously untangling them. (Why do you think people say, “That’s so funny!” instead of, like, laughing? They’re checking the temperature.) So in that vein, I leave you — us — with this:

I loved a girl once. She gave me a book I never read, but cherish all the same — for its promise then and everything that’s followed since, I’m thankful. When we say, “Let’s be friends,” I know we mean it, I know we will, and I know why.


For those of you who knew me as @QuimFont, he too has been laid to rest (months ago). Stay in touch on Twitter: @gregjkrieg

About the Author

The Likely Lad


  1. WhoNeedsForwards

    Neither would have been anywhere without New Order and Stone Roses’ commercial successes, however minor they were.

  2. It’s like Holden Caulfield, if he were Jewish. Love you, Lad.

  3. WhoNeedsForwards

    So, basically, the gist is, everyone who’s not TFA is bailing; ie, at least 70% of the interesting content. You sure you didn’t re-design just to shut down?

  4. Georger

    “You sure you didn’t re-design just to shut down?”

    It’s like if the government show the Six Million Dollar Man in the face after rebuilding him.

  5. WhoNeedsForwards

    I wouldn’t put that past the government. You know how they like to waste money.

  6. Georger

    “They told me I had to pay it back! Do you have any idea how long it takes to pay off six million dollars on a government salary?”

  7. Four more posts today after this one. James T is the last one at 7 p.m. EST.

  8. Precious Roy

    As a Texan and non-New Yorker, this sounds vaguely familiar.


  9. WhiteSpeedReceiver

    I have no idea what was just written.


  10. Georger

    Wait a minute … by my math …… THAT MEANS SVEN IS WRITING SOMETHING!

  11. Outside Mid

    #OccupyQuimFont Let’s take it back for the 99%

  12. @Georger: You’ll just have to stick around at 5:15 and find out…

  13. Georger

    Also Ku Klux Klam Aaron.

  14. MightyMightyDR

    I don’t get it, TLL. Is the book a metaphor? And is the inscription inside the cover another metaphor? All the other posts were really good.

  15. @MMDR: You are a cruel bitch. I thought his tale was sweet. But I love that you’re giving him shit.

  16. Lennon's Eyebrow

    Lad, you will be missed. You are the first Spurs fan I ever encountered and exchanged words with (so what if it was on the internet, it totally still counts). Come to think of it, this is the first place I ever had to talk to other people about this sport. I hope y’all aren’t closing your doors, because this place will always be synonymous for me with my love of this game.

    • Outside Mid

      @ LE: I’ve been floating over a bit more to Cartilage Free Captain, and phil’s got Yankee Yiddos up going again.

  17. The Likely Lad

    @MMDR The book = real. Inscription = real. You = real big cunt. :)

  18. MightyMightyDR

    @TSE: I reread the post. I get it now. I think.

    On another note, EURO 2008 will always be my favorite memory of UF. Especially the Croatia-Turkey match.

  19. ivy

    Y’all are really messing with my Qi today, what with these farewells and all. I’m already thrown by the Wayback Machine in use in the EPL. This is too much for my fragile sense of World Order.

  20. Mountain Wag

    @MMDR – you’re a blonde too, aren’t you?

  21. Keith

    We’re getting a fricking puppet taking over at 7, aren’t we?

  22. Georger

    Real Big Cunt were always second best to Mighty Mighty Bosstaints.

    I feel there haven’t been enough Positively 4th Street references here today.

  23. Georger


  24. Lennon's Eyebrow

    @OM: Yeah, I’ve been living mostly at CFC this season since content started slowing down over here. What’s your name over there? I haven’t noticed an Outside Mid. And yeah, I just noticed YY was up again today. UF nostalgia inspired me to go give it a look see.

  25. KEITH!!!! PERIL!!! Now we just need Berg, Autoglass and Wanker’s Doom.

  26. Keith

    @OM: whoever it is, they better not Daulerio this site.
    /REALLY disagreed with Leitch’s roast post.

  27. Keith

    I’ve been viewing, I just haven’t been commenting too much, as Chrome hates saving my form data, aka I’m lazy.

  28. @Keith: So did I. I think it was Leitch trying to talk himself into believing it.

  29. Precious Roy

    You’ve got a lot of nerve, Georger.

  30. The Likely Lad

    @MMDR i don’t really think you’re a RBC, btw. I just can’t say that (online) anymore (mostly) so I took my chance.

  31. MP

    Leitch didn’t even believe what he was writing, but A. Leitch is a pussy and B. Daulerio is his buddy and he wasn’t gonna publicly tell him how much that place sucks now.

  32. @Georger: refresh the homepage

  33. Keith

    @OM: I know, and that woulda been awesome, but Pies is at least second-rate. No WAY any of their staff jumps down a league.
    /BOOM! Roasted!

  34. Keith

    @OM: you just unmasked teh Grauniad’s “Secret Footballer,” didn’t you?

  35. MightyMightyDR

    @TLL: I always wondered what the “RBC” in “RBC Roosendaal” actually meant.

    @MW: I’m a brunette. My twitter image lies not.

  36. Jacob

    Inchoate? How the fuck did I get into Grantland?

    /stops reading

  37. mountainwag

    @MMDR – thought so. But I was trying to offer you the excuse I use… sorry!

  38. The Likely Lad

    Thanks, Jacob.

    God, I love this site.

  39. MightyMightyDR

    @Nora: So that’s why you support Arsenal…

  40. mountainwag

    @MMDR – no, that’s because they’re classy. If I am nothing else, I am a classy WAG. (and it’s still weird you using my name. very weird).

  41. Andrew

    @MW: “and it’s still weird you using my name. very weird” You’re not the first woman to say that to me.

  42. The Likely Lad


  43. Autoglass

    Well done, Likely Lad. I remember walking the streets of Norwich late at night, pissed, after the Tottenham match 2 weeks ago…trying to find a new girl and a new book.

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