Alan Kelly has tipped Robbie Keane to go on to win 150 caps for Ireland. Kelly added: “You have to have that desire and enthusiasm. Everybody said about him travelling over all the way for the England game and getting away from the Galaxy just because he wants to play in the games. That’s infectious, to me anyway, and hopefully it is to the rest of the lads.” Kelly is well placed to assess Keane’s contribution since he made his senior international debut as a teenager in March 1998. He was still a member of the squad at the time and admitted the Dubliner’s precocious talent was obvious from the off as they went head-to-head on the training pitch. Kelly said: “I think I was in the squad when he first came in, and subsequently I have seen him rise all the way through from where he started to the iconic status he has now. “His awareness, his perception, the ability he has to find space – the ability to create time and space on a football pitch is what marks the great players out, and Robbie is undoubtedly up there. I remember having many duels – which I lost on regular occasions – in these games you see out there. “You’d think you had closed every angle down and you’d think you’d stopped the goal, and ‘boom’, back of the net and he’s wheeling away and smiling at you and saying ‘Better luck next time’.” Manager Giovanni Trapattoni will hope to be able to rely on Keane’s eye for a goal once again as the Faroes arrive in Dublin for a game Ireland simply must win if they are to stand any chance of emerging from Group C. Press Association The 32-year-old striker will set a new national record when he leads his country out for Friday night’s World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands, his 126th senior appearance. Keane extended his goalscoring tally to 56 in Sunday’s 4-0 friendly victory over Georgia, and goalkeeping coach Kelly has no doubts that there is more to come. Asked if the Ireland captain could go on to reach 150 caps, he said: “Why not? Look at him, he’s running around like a spring chicken. I wish I had his knees.”
My parents met at a bar owned by former Kansas State quarterback Lynn Dickey, and my dad popped the question in the nosebleed seats at Arrowhead Stadium. As soon as I was born, I was stuffed into a white-and-red onesie and toted to Chiefs training camp. That’s why, last Saturday afternoon, I didn’t believe that the Chiefs would win. I grew up through year after year of the same old disappointment — a stellar start to the season followed by a dramatic crumble into postseason failure. The possibility that the Chiefs could step up and dominate another I was stunned, rewinding the moments with my mom in a series of clipped, all-caps texts. Most of my existence is owed to football — the Kansas City Chiefs in particular. And it meant that I had to face a very real, overwhelming possibility — that, with one more win, the Chiefs will play in the Super Bowl. As a pessimistic fan, part of me will expect the loss from the first snap. But the rest of me simply won’t care. The team taking the field in Arrowhead this season is one of the best we’ve seen in Kansas City in awhile and, for once, we feel that we might have the upper hand for awhile — the best tight end in the league and a baby quarterback who’s changing the way the position’s played. Regardless, I’ve lived through two-loss and two-win seasons, and I’ve loved this team long enough to know that things will be okay. The thing I’ve learned since moving to Los Angeles is that not everyone completely understands what it means to be a fan. It makes sense, really, that in a city privileged with the wealth of stars like Kobe Bryant, with a torrid history of NFL teams that came and went only to return a few years later, fandom would be a casual thing. Los Angeles is a tourist city and its fans’ perspectives follow suit, coming and going like fads, following the ebbs and flows of winning and losing seasons. I couldn’t help it. That team had always been inextricably, permanently part of me. Even my first crush was connected — a boy with shaggy blonde hair named Robbie, who I deemed to be the cutest sixth-grader alive. He also happened to be Kevin Harlan’s son. But to me, being a Chiefs fan runs deeper. It means a quiet Sunday afternoon in Kansas City with a bowl of chili balanced on my lap, my dad holding his iPad up inches from his nose to read off stats. It means nonsensical texts from my mom — “Did you see that?” and “PAT!!!” were two of the most recent — that I automatically understand. I’ve never watched the Super Bowl as an actual fan, instead enjoying the annual excuse to eat a ton of pigs-in-a-blanket and, if need be, shout insults at the Patriots. I’m not even sure how I’ll react if that happens. (Cry? Laugh? Name my first son Patrick, after the Chiefs’ quarterback?) Each fall, as the air became less muggy and dense, my mom hoarded McCormick spice packets to prepare for long Sundays of chili cooking in the Crock-Pot and football blaring in the living room. We always muted the ESPN announcers, preferring the talent on our local radio station — the warm astonishment of Kevin Harlan’s, “Oh baby, whatta play!” and the roaring excitement of Mitch Holthus’ cry, “Touchdown, Kan-sas Cit-y!” The Chiefs weren’t especially good when I was little, but they were good enough to make me fall in love — hard. Maybe too hard. Even as a kid, I was an overly loyal fan. When the Bengals beat us one year, I attempted to boycott a dance competition I was supposed to attend in Cincinnati the following month. (I lost that argument very quickly, but remained bitter through all three days of the trip.) Even after the 2006 season, when we lost Trent Green and Tony Gonzalez and only won two games, the Chiefs were my guys. A lot can be said about what it means to be a fan. Yes, fandom makes people do crazy things — paint their chests, stand knee-deep in snow on a Sunday, travel thousands of miles and name their children after strangers. But folks from the Midwest know it’s different. Don’t get me wrong, our teams normally aren’t all that good. We suffer through losing streaks, losing seasons, losing decades. The sports gods giveth and taketh away heartily in the heart of America — just ask anyone from Cleveland if you don’t believe me — and most of us know that all good things with our teams will come to an end. I didn’t get much time to consider that prospect before one of my friends asked the pessimistic counter — what would I do if they lost? — but my answer was immediate. I won’t care. I mean yes, I’ll be crushed, but it won’t be the type of loss that destroys me as a fan. Most importantly, it means that no matter what, each season, my family and I can count on the same game, the same field and jerseys and colors that feel like home no matter the record or year. Win or lose this Sunday, and every Sunday after that, the Chiefs are still that something I can count on. Julia Poe is a senior writing about her personal connection to sports. Her column, “Poe’s Perspective,” runs weekly on Thursdays.
The idea of trading down is different from cross-shopping, when shoppers buy kitchenware at Target and status handbags at Neiman Marcus. Shoppers cross shop to have a more eclectic style, but trade down to cheaper stores as a sign of financial stress, experts say. Amanda Curry, a waitress and bar manager from Riverview, Mich., said she normally shops at Somerset, an upscale mall with Nordstrom and Macy’s department stores. Now, she is looking at places that offer lower prices. This year’s destination? “Meijer, Wal-Mart – J.C. Penney, probably,” she said. “My income’s not as high as it used to be,” she said, noting she now has a 17-month-old daughter. Monica Tang, a retail strategist at Kurt Salmon Associates, agrees that certain shoppers are trading down to less expensive stores, but she doesn’t see it as a slam on the brakes. They are finding easier ways to cut back if they are looking to reduce their spending, she said. The trend is starting to play in the hands of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which has stepped up discounting after suffering its worst holiday season on record last year. Last week, the discounter recorded an 8 percent profit increase, and analysts say it could benefit from shoppers trading down this holiday season even as its core customers pull back. NEW YORK – That $3.20 latte at Starbucks or the $300 handbag at Coach may no longer be affordable luxuries. Feeling squeezed by gas prices and weak credit, the nation’s shoppers are increasingly trading down to lower-price stores or cheaper items. Such changes – which emerged this past summer and surfaced in the latest financial results for retailers – could alter dynamics of the holiday shopping season as it officially kicks off today. For some shoppers, it could be as drastic as buying all their clothes at discounters instead of department stores. For others, it could be as subtle as buying a wallet instead of a handbag or one latte per week at a fancy coffee shop and deli coffee on the other days. The trend could benefit discounters, warehouse clubs and drug stores while hurting department stores and mall-based apparel chains. Even Starbucks Inc. reported its first decline in traffic on record at its U.S. stores. “People are so cash- and credit-concerned,” retail consultant Burt Flickinger III said, noting he hasn’t seen “the trading down” phenomenon since the 1987 stock market crash resulted in massive job losses and the housing slump in the early 1990s. Drug store chains such as CVS Caremark Corp. and Walgreen Co. – both of which have been adding trendy items such as funky jewelry – are expected to be winners. Meanwhile, department stores – which enjoyed a resurgence last holiday season – have seen their fortunes reverse. Home and apparel, categories sensitive to the economy, are struggling with sluggish sales, and department stores are finding stiffer competition from the likes of offprice stores such as TJ Maxx, Flickinger said. Luxury stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue should continue to fare well this holiday season. But the aspirational luxury buyer seems to be feeling pinched, hurting results at Coach Inc., considered a bellwether for the low-end luxury market.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!