Strange surroundings

I have a terrible, awful, embarrassing confession to make. I watched Spurs play Everton instead of the Chelsea versus Leicester game.

But wait, it wasn’t through choice. I did not suddenly become a Tottenham fan and switch my football compass from Stamford Bridge to White Hart Lane (or Wembley). I couldn’t follow the game because this season things have changed for us Blues fans over in the States.

For the past couple of years, every single Premier League contest has been available digitally. You could see any match in the comfort of your living room, if you were travelling you could stream them on your laptop, while the late Saturday kick-off was (and still is) usually shown on regular national TV. We are spoiled out here in the colonies, I know.

Almost always though I go to my local Irish bar Finn McCool’s to watch Chelsea. Our start times range from 6am to 11.30am, so I’m not motivated by drinking beer (honestly). I’ll sip coffee or tea and enjoy the atmosphere, discuss the match with my fellow Blues, and indulge in banter with the opposition’s supporters.

However this past weekend I went on a writers’ retreat to Pensacola Beach, in the Florida panhandle but miles from Hurricane Irma’s landfall thankfully (last year it was a ‘writing retreat’, this time it was a ‘writers’ retreat.’ It’s an important difference: in the former you are expected to write, while the latter is just a holiday for writers. At least that’s how I interpreted it). At 8.55am I tried to log in to watch the action from the King Power Stadium - and that’s when I discovered that NBC have introduced a new subscription scheme.

It’s called a ‘gold pass’ and it costs extra. Some games are now only available to subscribers and I had no idea. Our game is always on at the pub. All I usually need to know is the day and kick-off time.

So I had to make do with the fixture I could watch, which came from Goodison Park. As I lounged on the balcony of the spacious three-bedroom apartment overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, I convinced myself that I was scouting one of our title rivals. That consoled me - as did the gorgeous view, cooked breakfast and Buck’s Fizz.

I followed our win via the magic of the internet and I was able to call up the highlights on demand afterwards, so it wasn’t a complete washout. Still, come 7.30am this Sunday, I’ll be back down the pub to watch us take on Arsenal.