On Tuesday, the beautiful game will call Darrell Bulmer home.

He will shut down his computer and leave his office at the Maine Arts Commission to fly home north of London.

He’s saved vacation time for two years to watch the World Cup back home in Sudbury, at pubs with friends and family. To cheer wildly, to hoist a pint, to be among his countrymen.

It’s World Cup time.

The storied global soccer tournament kicks off Friday in South Africa. One month. Thirty-two countries. And one gold trophy that quite simply means everything.

“England almost closes down. It’s tough to be here,” said Bulmer, 37. “It’s really a thing of camaraderie. I would say from the time I was able to stand up and cheer, my friends and I have gotten together to watch the World Cup.

“Where I’m from they’ll all be taking three, four weeks off from work. That’s typical for the proper fan in England.”

The first marquee game, of course, is storied England against the United States. It will air at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC.

England is loaded with stars like striker Wayne Rooney of Manchester United. The top American player is veteran Landon Donovan.

The last time the teams met in the World Cup was 1950, when the Yanks escaped with a 1-0 win, then failed to qualify for the next 40 years.

That has Paul Cameron needling his under-15 Seacoast United girls’ premier team.

Cameron is from Liverpool. His accent gives that away.

“Without sounding arrogant, I do expect England to beat the U.S.,” said Cameron. “My wife is laughing at me but it will be a close game. I’m hoping the U.S. and England come out of that group.”

His girls are pulling for their own.

“He’s England all the way,” said Taylor Littlefield, 15, of Sanford. “He’s pretty confident. Its going to be a tough game for the U.S. but I’m looking forward to it.”

“He definitely thinks England is going to win,” said Cassie Darrow, 14. Her mom is from Argentina, and she’s played there in the backyard with her cousins.

Cameron took his team to England last year when the players were U14s. They saw two Premier League games — Newcastle vs. Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham vs. Chelsea.

The stadiums were packed. The noise was deafening.

“The fans were just crazy,” said Littlefield. “It’s like all the American sports here combined. We were taken aback. It was awesome.”

There they played three English girls’ teams — aggressive, quick girls who, without the opportunities American girls have, must rise from boys’ teams.

Others from the Seacoast United club will watch the game at a pig roast in Wiscasset. Cameron will have soccer friends over to his home.

Andrew Gordon, a teacher and field hockey coach at Deering, will meet friends at RiRa in the Old Port, a popular World Cup destination in 2006.

He wouldn’t miss Saturday’s game for the world.

“It’s the biggest global sporting event,” said Gordon. “Bigger than the Olympics. Bigger than the Super Bowl. It’s once every four years. It’s going to be a long, interesting month.”

Gordon will be rooting for England. His son? He has dual citizenship.

“I’m still English so I have to support England,” said Gordon.

His advanced placement history class at Deering worked on a project recently called “Around the World Cup.”

The team found one student from every country in the World Cup except North Korea and Slovenia.

“We were looking at the global nature of the game,” said Gordon. “Compiling stats about previous World Cups. I think people will really get into it this time around.”

The outcome of the match just might decide the new uniform colors of the newly combined Maine Coast United and Portland Phoenix soccer clubs.

Maine Coast United is red, white and blue.

“One of the jokes is why don’t we wait until the end of the U.S.-England game to decide,” said Mike Hagarty, an MCU coach and Yarmouth High soccer coach. “There’s been a lot of bantering like that.”

And at least one soccer family in Yarmouth will host a party.

The family sent out invitations with the story of the 1950 U.S. team that beat England 1-0 in Brazil.

“We’re a soccer town. People out here are fired up,” said Hagerty. “I have a Little League playoff game at 1 p.m. I’m so bummed. Ironically there’s an Englishman whose son is on the team we’re playing. He already (told his son), ‘I love you but I’ll be watching the England game.’ “

That makes perfect sense to England fans.

“There’s not much more important than football in England,” said Bulmer. “I’ve heard of people canceling their wedding. Others not going to the birth of their first child. The stories are wild.”

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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