This August, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to England and Ireland with the rest of the Groton soccer team. While in the country, we challenged ourselves against formidable opposition, reveled in the historic cities of London and Manchester, and even enjoyed food cooked in Jamie Oliver’s famous restaurant. Throughout the tour, the team bonded together and had an incredible time on the opposite side of the Atlantic.
Our first stop in the United Kingdom was the nation’s capital, London. We played one game in the bustling metropolis, emerging with a 3–1 victory over the Forest School. We also enjoyed a training session in the middle of a popular park, doing our best to avoid the tree roots that surrounded the field. Other soccer-themed activities included a team outing to a Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham Football Club, inside the United Kingdom’s largest venue, Wembley Stadium. Our time in the city was not all soccer-focused however, and we also spent time on the bank of the River Thames. This included a half-hour ride on the London Eye, an enormous Ferris wheel that accesses spectacular views of the entire city. We capped off our time by traveling to Piccadilly Circus, a large square in the heart of London reminiscent of Times Square.
After four incredible days in the capital, it was time to pack our bags and head north to the port city of Liverpool. We marked our arrival with another match and came away with a hard fought 1–0 victory. In Liverpool, our team stayed on the Albert Dock and enjoyed the luxuries provided by this newly developed part of the city. Food highlights from the city included steak, chicken wrapped in prosciutto, and a special dessert featuring churros drizzled in warm chocolate and caramel. While in Liverpool, we had the incredible opportunity to tour the stadiums of two historic and successful soccer clubs, Liverpool FC and Manchester United. In addition to getting many brilliant pictures of the breathtaking stadiums, we also learned how the clubs were formed and gazed at photographs from some of their most memorable games. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of our stay in Liverpool, however, was the Black Cab Beatles tour. The Beatles made their name in the city and this two-hour cab ride gave us an opportunity to relive the band’s incredible rise to superstardom. Destinations ranged from the birthplace of Paul McCartney to the site of their first gig. We even had the chance to see the barber shop that gave the band their famous haircuts!
We then took a ferry to Ireland, where we played three more games and visited other important sites in the history and making of the island nation. In Dublin, we were met with a bustling metropolis built around the River Liffey, and more “dodgy” weather. The trip was a fantastic experience for our team and we cannot wait to begin our season.