Posted by
Ian Clarke
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July 28, 2013
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It's Football Day

RedNation Online reached out to Bram van Bommel and Eric Anderton a few weeks ago after receiving an email with regards to their upcoming project and tour of Europe. It's Football Day is a Canadian produced 10-episode series on the gameday experience in Europe. The idea struck a chord with us, and we're certain every other football supporter in North America, as these two young Canadians embark on a tour of some of Europe's biggest and best stadiums and clubs.

The concept is simple enough, although large in scope, Bram and Eric will travel through Europe this summer visiting some of the most notable stadiums on the continent, filming a 10-episode series, photographing the matches and cities and writing about their adventures.

The goal: to explore the passion which fuels supporters of the most storied clubs in the game's history.

RNO spoke with Bram and Eric just prior to leaving for Germany in the middle of July. At the time of publishing this, they will be into their first week of their trip, the second episode will be in production, and will have already seen two of European football's biggest clubs.

RedNation Online (RNO): What are the backgrounds for both of you, and how exactly did “It’s Football Day” come about?

Bram van Bommel (Bram): We’re both supporters of teams here and abroad. I grew up playing soccer since I was four, was a part of an academy that went to Barcelona, and it was in Grade 12 we met through classes and found that we had both played and a similar passion for the sport.

With regards to It’s Football Day, it was about a year or two ago on New Year’s Eve, wandering through the city, talking about this and that and specifically football. We’re both passionate supporters and were talking about how great it would be to go to Europe, tour around all the stadiums, meet fans, find out how different it is from there to here.

Eric Anderton (Eric): One of the main reasons we want to do this is the foreign element. Yes, many of us have parents or grandparents who lived in England or Europe, grew up playing soccer, but we still felt supporting your local team here is not the same thing as being a part of that in England or Holland. Toronto has such a diverse culture, there are people from everywhere, and everyone follows their team – but are living vicariously through the TV. We wanted to be on the ground and see what it was like to be a part of supporting a local team in Europe.

RNO: When did this start to become a reality? At what point did you guys stop talking about it and actually begin planning it?

Eric: For a while it was an idea we just tossed around. I’d always wanted to do this kind of trip and we kept talking about it in the sense it was something we’d do “one day”. But last summer we were up at a cottage and just said, no turning back, let’s do it the summer of 2013. From there it began to unfold, we started to make rough plans, hoped for a good schedule and in March things really started moving.

Bram: Yeah, like Eric said, it’s something we both always wanted to do. We started It’s Football Day as a way to interact with viewers and followers on this trip. In 20 years we want to come back and say, “wow, we actually did this trip”. We want to have video, photos, blog entries. At first we thought it would be something we’d set up for friends and family, but then realized it would be something football fans in Canada would also appreciate.

Eric: The idea started as home videos, but then thought we could also do blog entries. Writing what we saw, interview people – for example – I have a friend in England who was at Liverpool’s Champions League victory in Istanbul. I want to talk to him, take video and have people at home see it. It evolved from that idea into trying to do it in every city, bringing better equipment and have it structured so that more than just our family would be interested in seeing it.




RNO: You’ve seen Football Factories or Soccer Shrines? It’s a similar approach of meeting supporters and going to venues. What have you taken from those and how are you structuring it so this series stands on its own?

Eric: We’ve seen Football Factories, and even our name for this comes from a line in the movie Green Street, and we think that part of support is interesting but it’s only one part of supporter’s culture. We really want to see what it’s like for the everyday person in a particular city to go see their team play. We don’t want to go in either with accreditation or media passes, we’re trying to find that other voice, as not everyone is in a firm or supporter’s group or part of the media.

RNO: Talk about the planning process and what that’s been like?

Bram: It’s been very full time. The other day a friend was asking about the trip, where are going etc… We have games lined up almost everywhere. Bayern Munich v Dortmund, Bayern Munich v. Barcelona, at the Nou Camp Barcelona v Athletico Madrid, Manchester United v Chelsea, Manchester United v Liverpool and we’re trying to get England v Scotland. We look at this list, say those names and remember seeing all them on TV as kids, and just saying it out loud is amazing!

RNO: Take that one step further though, how have you set up tickets? Have you been reaching out to clubs?

Eric: We started really planning back in December, trying to set out a rough route for the teams we wanted to see. There was no schedule then so we had to estimate when matches would be happening based on the schedule from the past few years. As soon as the schedule was released we started phoning friends and family to organized somewhere to stay.

We aren’t connected to any media, so to get box seats or press access isn’t happening. We are going there to be just like any other supporter.

Bram: Which is fine because really, we don’t want to be up above in box seats or press row as they’re not the real fans, or specifically that’s not part of the fan experience and that’s what we want to be in the middle of.

Eric: We reached out to a few clubs, but again, since we’re doing this independently, the access just isn’t the same. Here, MLS is still a growing league and in comparison in it’s infancy. We went through TFC and got in depth content, spoke with players, got into games. It’s not the same overseas and incredibly difficult. So as a result, and we’re happy with this, it’s been the same process to get in as being a fan over there.

RNO: What have been the biggest challenges and obstacles planning this trip?

Eric: We were fortunate to get the schedule we did. We’re still in school so for so many games being played through the summer months, so many Super Cups, we lucked out in that regard.

Our accommodations have been covered for the most part, plane tickets weren’t an issue as we had began budgeting way back.

The biggest challenge though has been the tickets. How do we get tickets to Liverpool v Manchester United? A game that will have over a hundred thousand people watching on TV and only 45,000 seats available when 20-30 thousand are held by members or season seat holders? Even people who’ve been going for decades can’t get in to some of these games, how are we going to do it?

 

RNO: How did you decide on the locations?

Bram: 
I don’t want to say the selection was biased, as we do have our own allegiances overseas. We couldn’t afford to go everywhere for time and expense reasons, but we both wanted to see Germany because they had recently hosted the World Cup. I’m Dutch, so some stops in Holland made sense, Eric’s English so that made sense, and Spain was the last, obvious pick, mostly because of the recent success of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Eric: Anything beyond where we had friends and family came down to crunching numbers and the budget. There are match tickets, trains or planes, accommodations – Spain was the only place we didn’t know anyone so that was the exception.

RNO: If you had carte blanche on this trip, is there anywhere else you would go?

Eric: A Glasgow derby would be up there, seeing Celtic v Rangers.

RNO: You must mean Celtic v Partick Thistle?

Bram: Haha, yeah. We were also both looking at France as a possibility, Scotland as well. If we knew it would be 100% safe we’d go to Turkey but we don’t know anyone there and weren’t certain if getting in the middle of Fenerbache v Galatasaray would be a good idea.

RNO: What are the places you’re most looking forward to?

Bram: I’ve traveled around Europe before and have seen Spain, Holland and Germany, but never toured or been in any stadiums. I think from a fans perspective I’m looking forward to the match with Dortmund. For a rivalry perspective the Manchester United v Liverpool will be phenomenal.

 

RNO: What are you expecting from this trip based on each location? Do you think any place in particular will surprise you?

Bram: For sure we’re expecting some surprises. We were looking at going to see Fulham as their stadium is well regarded, which was something I hadn’t considered from the outset.

I think the one thing I’m looking for and will be looking at is finding out the difference between fans here in Canada and ones in Europe. We’ve been to many TFC games and at times left bitterly disappointed, but then times where we’ve been amazed how far we’ve come as a soccer city. So I’m really looking forward to seeing how fans and supporters react over there.

Eric: For me it’s not about making a comparison between MLS and European leagues. MLS is a relatively new league and the supporter culture just isn’t as established or anywhere near the same. In all of the games except for two, we’re going as neutrals and can go to be around people who are like-minded and interested in following their local club. I’m also interested to see how in some places we would have seen in Football Factories, places with a perception of being rough, how that will go.

RNO: Have you realized that about 100% of people who follow football passionately – this is their dream trip? Have you stopped and considered you are embarking on what many might never get to do?

Eric: It’s sinking in now. The trip was still somewhat hypothetical two months ago, then we booked our plane tickets and thought, “this is happening!” Someone will ask you where you’re going and you start to recite it back and it’s unbelievable that at the end of July we’ll be in Dortmund.

RNO: How is this all being put together, what is the structure of the series?

Eric: In terms of equipment, we’re going with some good high tech cameras, cameras we can fit into our pockets, so that we can get as much ground level footage as possible.

Bram: Right now we have a structure that we used in our first episode, so there is a rough template we’d like to follow. We know in Europe it won’t be the same because we won’t know the cities as well as here, but we are prepared for the fact the episodes might be a bit different than the one we did here in Toronto.

Eric: Episode-wise, we can’t plan too much because the dates are spread out and some cities we’ll have 24 hours between the two. We won’t be able to do video on game day, but one day a week we’re trying to set aside as “Football Day”. If we keep to a schedule like that it will be more fun for people following us, and we’ll also be updating our blog, uploading photos to that and facebook, trying to do that every day.

Bram: We promised ten episodes, and the first one is up now. We will likely do teasers and shorter episodes to go along with that. So if we’re in London, although we’re not going to an Aresenal match, we might tour around the Emirates and other stadiums and post that video.

Eric: We just want to make sure there’s plenty of content going up while we’re in Europe so everyone who’s following us can stay up to date the entire time we’re away.

It's Football Day can be found at:

www.facebook.com/ItsFootballDayWebseries

www.youtube.com/user/ItsFootballDaySeries

www.itsfootballdayblog.wordpress.com

Contact Eric and Bram at itsfootballday@gmail.com

 

 

 
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