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 Birthday Toast

Ladies and gentleman, friends, family, opium smugglers, torch singers, bicyclists, balloonists, chemists, painters, gangsters, mysterious women in kimonos, and grad students,

Three years ago today, armed with nothing but youthful pluck, a Google password, and a biography of Pierce Egan, I set out to create a sports website that would “be insanely profitable” and “basically run itself.” From those springs of innocent idealism, plus electricity and several computer languages, The Run of Play was born.

It was a crazy time. The Office was just beginning its fourth season, and the whole country was chuckling along with the antics at Dwight’s beet farm. My oldest niece, who is now five, was then just two. Night after night, the Egan book doubled as a gin coaster as I typed away in the soothing blue light of the monitor, too lazy to refill the Brita.

That book was way too tall to use as a coaster. I see that now. Siobhan said so at the time, but I didn’t believe her, I was so preoccupied with the latest twists in the Gary Megson saga. Gary Megson was the manager of Leicester City, back then. I chronicled his move to Bolton blow by blow, occasionally raising my arm at a comically obtuse angle to negotiate my next sip of Tom Collins. It was like fumbling around for the combination to a safe after you’ve written it on a slip of paper and hidden it on the top shelf of your gun closet.

The world turns, and lessons are learned. You can’t put off writing that big “Mourinho at Inter” post till tomorrow, because he won’t be there any more. This blog is three years old, and literally the only managers who are still with the same teams as when we started are Sir Alex Ferguson and Bob Bradley. They are, jointly, the two most successful managers on earth. There’s David Moyes, but he’s essentially a synonym at this point.

But enough about the past. History is like a gin fizz resting on a book that stretches all the way to the ceiling: you can see it, you can almost taste it, but you’ll never be able to wrap your hand around its cool, sweaty exterior. Fortunately, the Run of Play has an exciting future in store. B.A.F.C. is coming back. It was never supposed to leave in the first place, but the World Cup was basically like taking an apple cart, upsetting it, and then subjecting the terrified cart proprietor to sustained shelling by WWII-era artillery. We’ll have more amazing guest posts, and Pelé Week sequels so catastrophically significant you’ll barely remember who Pelé was at the end of them. 2011, plus the rest of 2010, is going to be our best 14 months ever.

In the meantime, whether you’ve been around since the early days or have only just stumbled across the site via a tragically coincidental Gary Megson-themed Bing search, I want to thank you for your support. Your comments, clicks, emails, and Twitter shout-outs are what make this thing worth doing, and I’m grateful for all of them.

It has been fun to have this website for three years. Thank you for your patronage and occasional gifts of jewelry. I’m told they are tax-deductible.

Bottoms up,


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A Birthday Toast

by Brian Phillips · October 24, 2010

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