The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.

We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.

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A Rain of Flowers

Those of you who’ve been wise to this site since the early days, or who just really like reading mastheads, will be aware that for lo these many years I’ve been running RoP in conjunction with two colleagues, Dr. Chesapeake Marchpane and Vandal-prone. And sure, they may not have been around too consistently, or seemed to have anything to do with the daily operations of the enterprise, but one thing’s for sure: They definitely do exist.

Well, today, everything changes. Vandal-prone and Dr. Marchpane will still be involved with the site, but as of this morning, they’ll be stepping down from the masthead. In their place, I’m delighted to announce, will be five new and at least equally nonfictional contributing writers. Some of them you know, some of them you may not know, but they are all among the baddest and best soccer writers on the internet.

Please welcome, therefore, our new strike-force superstars: Supriya Nair, Zach Dundas, Alan Jacobs, Fredorrarci, and Richard Whittall. Let’s meet their spectacular dossiers.

  • Supriya Nair you know from Twitter and, if you have been around this game for any length of time, from Treasons, Stratagems, and Spoils, her ingenious soccer blog. She lives in Mumbai, cheers for Milan, and is the most perceptive writer I know on both Maldini and Ibrahimović. That is range, people.
  • Zach Dundas is the author of The Renegade Sportsman, and his former blog of the same title is the only reason anyone misses True/Slant. Zach lives in Portland and wrote, for Gawker, the funniest and most memorable passage that I read during the entire World Cup.

    With this World Cup inspiring actual interest in this country, it bears remembering that not too long ago, being an American soccer fan was akin to belonging to a particularly obscure and pitiable sexual minority. You had to visit strange bars at odd hours and mix with unusual people whom you recognized by coded sartorial choices, such as a Bayern Munich scarf worn in July. You had to seek out “speciality publications.” In my case, I spent many pre-Internet hours secreted in my university’s library, reading three-week old copies of The Observer, which somehow retained a peculiar damp, British industrial scent of their own, making the practice feel even more like hanging out in the back room of sketchy porn shop.

  • Alan Jacobs is already a RoP legend for his string of mind-widening posts on everything from how Barcelona resemble slime mold to how Joey Barton is a stabilizing presence. (Posts listed in order of counterintuitiveness.) Alan is also the author of a number of books, including The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis and Original Sin: A Cultural History.
  • Fredorrarci operates, from his stronghold in Ireland, the indispensable Sport Is A TV Show, which once ran the greatest season preview ever to include a lengthy scene in which Lee Bowyer eats another man’s heart. His performance on Twitter during the 2010 #irishhiphoptowns TT is still the most inspirational thing I have ever seen in my life. That, then Istanbul. I’m not kidding. Fredorrarci is an Arsenal supporter.
  • Richard Whittall is famed for his blog, A More Splendid Life, his angelic voice (not a joke), and his whip-smart focus on soccer media issues. A professional countertenor in Toronto, Richard was recently performing as a featured soloist in Bach’s B Minor Mass with probably the best Baroque ensemble in North America when I caught him tweeting about soccer during intermission. Or, as Bach himself would have called it, halftime. You think going to away games proves your commitment?

If it isn’t already clear from the number of times I almost repeated the word “rapturous” in the preceding descriptions, I am thrilled and proud to have these folks on board. They will be writing on whatever they want, whenever they feel like it. Please make them feel welcome so that they will feel like writing a lot.

Coincidentally, they’re in the same Nepalese prison at the moment, though for drastically different reasons.

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A Rain of Flowers

by Brian Phillips · February 18, 2011

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