Most Islander families have done the travel circuit. Manteca, Lathrop, Davis, Sacramento. Maybe Napa or Santa Cruz. This summer, the 2008 boys took travel to another level. The destination? The United Kingdom!
It was a soccer packed 10 days. Within 24 hours of landing in London, most of the boys and their families headed to Wembley Stadium for the Community Shield, the final preseason game before the start of the Premier League, which Manchester City won over Liverpool in a penalty shootout thriller. As the trip wound down we enjoyed a very different stadium experience at Burnley’s Turf Moor, which has been hosting top level soccer since 1883. In a classic soaking English rain, Burnley won 3-0 over Southampton and, perhaps as importantly, made several long lasting young American fans. In between these unforgettable spectator experiences, the boys got to tour three of the most iconic stadiums in England—Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford, and Anfield. And probably more memorable that any of that—training sessions with coaches from Charlton Athletic and Manchester United coaches as well as four games against honest to goodness UK kids. There were even a couple of games for younger siblings thrown in for good measure. Oh, and there were some other things too—the Tower of London, theater, a giant castle in Wales, Shakespeare’s house.
But probably more importantly than any of the soccer experiences was the chance for the boys, and the families, to bond and really get to know each other. They went to the UK as teammates but came back as a tightknit team.