Moving to Substack

Hello,

If you’re on this site, hopefully it’s because you’re interested in my work and/or portfolio. I encourage you to look through the portfolio page to explore both of those things. If you’re here to check out new stories, you will need to head over to my Substack newsletter, where I’ll be posting full length, quality work every week. There will be a free option and eventually a paid option for said newsletter.

I look forward to you joining me over at Kicking the Globe, a newsletter which aims to tell the stories that deserve the front page, but are being ignored.

Thank you,

Dominic José Bisogno

Supporting Abroad – Sheffield Wednesday in the USA

It’s no secret that support from outside of a club’s immediate area, along with becoming quite common, has become more and more important to just about any club. Many fans from abroad are often assumed as only glory hunting for the top sides. This, however, simply isn’t the whole story. Therefore, I’ve decided to kick off a simple and straight forward series that looks to show individuals and supporters groups from around the world that promote the support of clubs that aren’t competing for champions league spots or league titles. This is Supporting Abroad.

This time around, I spoke with Owls Americas. The group manages the support for Sheffield Wednesday in North and South America and features a good bit of infrastructure, including a fully-functioning site and an online merchandise store. Sheffield Wednesday are currently in the EFL Championship, where they set in 14th as of the writing of this piece.


Q: When did your group take form? How has it grown since its initial founding?

A: Owls Americas was setup in 2017 as a way to bring all our American supporter groups together under one umbrella and to facilitate other fans in forming their own groups and finding people to watch the game with. We started with just 4-5 groups and now have 12 groups and a lot more reps in cities across the Americas.

Q: What are some of the key reasons you support Sheffield Wednesday? What has been your favorite part of being a supporter?

A: Myself (Paddy), i grew up in the area of Sheffield in the UK, so simply chose the best local team I could go and watch! Others in our group who weren’t born in the UK have found us through all sorts of means, maybe a love of Owls, a love of our american import John Harkes, a love of Sheffield music, or just because they liked our logo on FIFA!

Q: What are some challenges you face supporting Sheffield Wednesday, whether that be during games or outside of the 90 minutes?

A: The only challenges we face nowadays is the pain of watching a team going through a big transition! With iFollow we get to watch every minute of every game, so its much more accessible than it ever was to people outside of the UK. We’ve also got a few podcasts to listen to (including our own “Owls Americast”) so fans have a raft of info and knowledge available to them.

Q: If a person is considering supporting Sheffield Wednesday, what would be your pitch to win them over?

A: This club has a great tradition, great history, its a sleeping giant, if you get on board now no one will call you a Glory Chaser, you’re joining at the start of a(nother) new era. It’s always interesting, the fans are very welcoming, we have a fantastic group of fans here in the Americas and we love helping new fans get to know us better.

Q: What are some thoughts you have on the state of your current season? What are some things you hope or improve before the 20/21 season kicks off?

A: We were left in the lurch this season, after Steve Bruce left us a couple of weeks before the start, we felt betrayed. We had been playing well under him. We’ve brought in Monk who started well, but had a disastrous start to 2020, we are having a complete clear-out of players and building a squad with the right attitude. Next year will be making an entirely new squad gel and giving Garry Monk the chance to push us up the league. The best thing about the championship is that it’s so open, and you dont need to have all your ducks in order to finish top 6, although that would certainly help!!


Sheffield Wednesday are by all means a club with a chance at more than their current status and it’s encouraging to see they’ll have a vast range of passionate supporters around the globe when the time finally comes. Until then, they’ll have to work with championship ball.

Supporting Abroad – Huddersfield in the USA

It’s no secret that support from outside of a club’s immediate area, along with becoming quite common, has become more and more important to just about any club. Many fans from abroad are often assumed as only glory hunting for the top sides. This, however, simply isn’t the whole story. Therefore, I’ve decided to kick off a simple and straight forward series that looks to show individuals and supporters groups from around the world that promote the support of clubs that aren’t competing for champions league spots or league titles. This is Supporting Abroad.

Today’s article is on Huddersfield Town supporters in the United States. The club were in the Premier League most recently from 2017 to 2019 under the leadership of current Schalke 04 boss David Wagner. The West Yorkshire club, favorites of Sir Patrick Stewart, are most recently struggling in the bottom half of the EFL Championship.

The following Q&A with Mark and Chris of HTAFC in the USA, the official US supporters club network for Huddersfield Town. As you’ll see, supporting Huddersfield has proven a difficult passion, but a passion nonetheless.


Q: When did your group take form? How has it grown since its initial founding?
A/M: Chris formed the USA Terriers Twitter account a few years ago. I started the Stateside Terriers Facebook page. When we reached the Premier League two years ago the club realized it had zero formal presence in the USA so adopted us as the “official” North American supporters group. We have over 100 Facebook members & over 700 Twitter followers, but I think that Chris bought some Twitter followers a few years ago. 

Q: What are some of the key reasons you support Huddersfield? What has been your favorite part of being a supporter? 
A/M: There are only two reasons to be a Town fan. 1. Born there. 2. Dad supported them. For me & Chris it’s both. The 2017 season for Town is as good as we will ever know. Staying up had some great moments – beating Man Utd, drawing at Chelsea to stay up, winning 3-0 in our first ever PL game – but there were way too many defensive games, trying to grind out a point (and failing) or nick 3 for it to be considered true fun. If we get promoted it won’t be as good as 2017 when the odds were totally stacked against us, but destiny was with us. That season was special. 

Q: What are some challenges you face supporting Huddersfield, whether that be during games or outside of the 90 minutes?
A/M: We’ve generally been somewhere between shit & average for all of my life, which is a challenge. That said, it’s a rare saeson that we haven’t had something to play for on the last day of the season & we are ridiculously successful in the play-oofs and penalty shootouts. I’d say the challenges we face as fans are pretty common for all teams outside the top six – media either ignores or patronizes us & we have no way to truly compete. All that just makes our moments of success all the sweeter.

Q: If a person is considering supporting Huddersfield, what would be your pitch to win them over?
A/M: In 2017 I convinced lots of Americans to follow us based on the fairytale we were living. Other than that it’s a pretty tough sell. 

Q: What are some thoughts you have on the state of your current season? What are some things you hope or improve before the 20/21 season kicks off?
A/M: It’s been a shambles from day one with one exception – the appointment of the Cowley brothers as manager(s). They should just about see us safe, but after that we need the biggest overhaul we’ve ever seen. how frustrating/ridiculous given that we just earned $300 million from the Premier League over two seasons. If we can back them sufficiently, we might have a shot at promotion. Maybe.

A/C: Worth noting we have a pretty incredible history; we won the top league (now called the premier league) three times in a row. Only Huddersfield, Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool have ever done that before (then its a big debate who is the biggest of those 4, but I think Town just edge it). We are a northern team, with working class roots. I try pitch it that way when I’m in the mid-west or Texas.


Huddersfield is one of many examples of clubs that, despite being outside of the top class teams, has managed to piece together a following outside of England. Their working class roots and underdog status, particularly in their brief years in the premier league, has earned the respect and passion we place at the core of active support. Needless to say, HTAFC in the USA provide a reminder that international support for a club can come in all shapes and sizes.

You Might Not Know – Football at the Island Games

IIGA logo, courtesy of the IIGA.

I’ve made an effort throughout the years to try and always leave room to learn about the lesser knowns in the world of football. I consider myself a fan of the underdogs, outcasts, and misunderstood. I’ve enjoyed keeping an eye on all sorts of tiers of football in all sorts of countries, whether that be amateur, low level professional, or even the likes of CONIFA, an organization which helps represent stateless and otherwise unrepresented communities on the pitch. That all being said, when I stumbled on to the Island Games, I was shocked at the utter lack of knowledge in my grasp.

The Island Games are a series of sporting events, first held in 1985, which feature a range of island nations competing in the sort of activities standard to multi-sport events like the Olympics. There’s swimming, gymnastics, archery, tennis, and even basketball on some occasions. The event which caught my eye, however, was the football. The Island Games, which are held every two years, have hosted football every iteration, except for 1987 and more recently in 2019. The latter was due to a lack of facilities in the host nation of Gilbralter.

What stood out to me the most about the football (both men’s and women’s) at the Island Games is that it sees FIFA and non-FIFA members ducking it out against one another. FIFA members like Bermuda and the Faroe Islands have managed success in the tournament, while Greenland, a CONIFA member, have reached the final twice (note: one final was reached prior to CONIFA membership was granted in 2016). Other teams, often independently operated or working within a local federation, have also found success. These include the Isle of Man, Ynys Môn, and the Isle of Wight. Other major European islands with FIFA recognition have either not taken part or left over time, including the likes of Iceland and Malta.

The 2006 FIFI Wild Cup Greenland squad. Photo courtesy of the XenonX3.

To have FIFA, CONIFA, and otherwise run football associations agreeing to consistently meet on the pitch in a competitive nature, in addition to giving otherwise poorly represented areas to host said events, is minor miracle. There is, it should be noted, a clear focus on a certain area of world. All current members have a direct connection to Europe, either by being in Europe or by being a territory of a European nation. The only example breaking this rule is Prince Edward Island, who took part in various activities from 1991 to 2007. Prince Edward Island is a province of Canada, which, while certainly still holding close ties to the UK, is obviously not in Europe.

Another issue in this otherwise surprisingly bright situation is that even more involved FIFA members have not always participated. The last to play were Gibraltar in 2015, with Bermuda not taking part since winning gold in 2013. There is a slight Asterix for that disengagement, however. Because football was not played at the 2019 Island Games (due to a lack of available pitches), a separate tournament was played in Wales, titled the 2019 Inter Games Football tournament. The tournament allowed teams to not go completely inactive and featured a development squad from Gilbraltar.

Along the way, the Island Games have seen a share of proper professionals, particularly via the presence of FIFA-recognized sides like Gibraltar and Bermuda. Rai Simons and Tyrell Burgess, who’ve played for the likes of Chesterfield and the Vancouver Whitecaps respectively, both showed for Bermuda. Liam Walker, who’s had stints at the likes of Portsmouth and Notts County, did his time for Gibraltar. Alexander Weckström, who’s played the for likes of prominent Finnish club IFK Mariehamn, represented the Åland Islands.

The Isle of Man senior squad line up during the 2019 Inter Games Football Tournament. Photo courtesy of Paul Hatton.

All of this to say, the Island Games are just one the many tournaments outside of the upper echelons of the game that football fans should be keeping on eye on. I was deeply unfamiliar with the tournament until recently, a situation I immediately felt the need to help prevent. The Island Games, along with similar tournaments in other portions of the world and other global tournaments, are yet another part of the puzzle. Support local, support the underdog, support the underrepresented. In the end, however fits you best, support the game.

A document explaining all by-laws for football at the Island Games can be found and explored here. The International Island Games Association (IIGA)’s contact information can be found here.

Retrospective64 – 1080 Snowboarding

The Nintendo 64 was my first console. It’s many cartridges, trident-like controller, and countless classics were the foundation for my video game experience. As quarantines and isolations continue to keep many, including me, at home, I’ve decided to look through my catalogue of N64 games and explore how they’ve stood, or fallen to, the test of time.

1080 Snowboarding is, if nothing else, a blizzard of nostalgia. The 1998 release was one of many sports games released for the N64 throughout its run, but few had the sense of personality 1080 brought. For those utterly unfamiliar, 1080 Snowboarding is a snowboard racing game, in which you try to complete a snowboarding course. Different game options pit you against a fellow snowboarder a timer, but the core of the gameplay experience is the trick system.

1080 Snowboarding’s North American cover. Courtesy of Nintendo.

Tricks, essential for earning points in the game which are useful for certain game modes and otherwise just fun to attempt, are done through a variety of button and joystick maneuvers. All tricks require you to be in the air, through the jump function or otherwise, and require a pretty well timed execution. I frequently found my tricks not being registered in time to even start their animation before I hit the ground. This, I suspect, is also in part due to the age of my controller and its joystick.

To give you an idea, here’s a series of trick commands, all following a jump via the A button:

Shifty – hold joystick to left, B

Tail Grab – hold joystick down, B

360° Open Air – press right bumper, swing joystick around in complete circle starting from the top, can turn joystick right or left to turn in the respective direction

The most fun, and brutally dated part of this game is the music. Nagata is a legendary composer for countless Nintendo projects, but 1080 is one of his few works that feel pretty stuck to its time. Tunes like “Vacant Lives” and “Work Your Body” aren’t just memorable, they feel like they must’ve been songs outside of the game. They do, however, sound intensely 90’s, in a way that real 90’s music doesn’t even sound, and sort of don’t match the expectations I’d normally have for an in-house Nintendo soundtrack. It’s fun to hear, but it never even courts the iconic nature of many other franchises’ soundscapes.

There are five man character options for this game. You pick your character before starting a series of races or a one off race depending on the mode you choose. You will also then choose your board and footing style. Those five characters are Kensuke Kimachi, Dion Blaster, Rob Haywood, Akari Hayami, and Ricky Winterborn. Three additional characters (Ice Man, Gold Boarder, and The Panda) are unlockable through a series of challenges or controller manipulation.

Different characters have different stats that suit certain challenges more. You do get the sense when playing each character that they are capable of different things, though planning that out for each course can sometimes be more work than a kid trying to play a snowboarding game is interested in. I typically choose Kensuke Kimachi or Rob Haywood, who are both just quite balanced.

The game is pretty enjoyable visually. The characters are all clearly different from one another and look pretty good for the time, as do the range of environments. While all are in the end essentially a trail of snow, they still feel individual and play around with different scenery and time of day quite well. The subtle effects your board or hand has on the snow is also a nice touch that adds a little more realism to a video game that can otherwise feel very very video gamey.

1080 Snowboarding was never going to challenge the more essential Nintendo 64 classics for my time. I’ll always rather play a more story driven and detailed game. That being said, replaying a few courses and exploring the trick menu again has provided a needed reminder that this game is one of the most straight forward fun options you can get for the N64.

If you’re just starting a 64 collection, there’s games you should get before this one, but it still deserves a spot on the list. While racing game fans will likely pick Mario Kart, or F-Zero X, over it (and they should), those looking for a game where they can mix time trials and races with a complex range of tricks and interesting courses will find a comforting home. 7/10