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Saturday, 10th February

This is it. This is the day. It is amazing to think that 3 weeks previous, I was sitting at my computer and reading that the LA Galaxy were to hold open tryouts and now here I was preparing to take part. Very surreal. Yet at the same time, I wasn't nervous, I was excited. Probably, a little too excited however, which is why I woke up at 4am. So far my waking patterns have been 3am, (too early) 5am, (getting there, you'll be fine by tomorrow) and now 4am (what?! you're going back in time!) Once again, I had the delights of crappy TV to keep me amused til breakfast.

After breakfast, I spoke to a couple of journalists who said they would meet me down at the Home Depot Center later on and maybe do a interview. One of them was CNN which I have heard of back home so I was kind of thinking how cool it would be. Thankfully, after checking my email round Art's place, I also now had some contact numbers for people including a guy named George who had contacted me prior to my visit. He said he would be happy to show me around LA with his friends and might be down at the tryouts to cheer on one of his friends who was trying out too. So I rang him and it turns out he was just on his way out of the door, perfect! I headed up to my room, packed up my stuff and then a few minutes later, called a cab to take me to the HDC. I had always planned on arriving early, I wanted to get there in good time, check out the facilities maybe do a bit of filming as I was pretty certain I wouldn't be allowed to film during the tryouts. Part of me was thinking I might sneak the camcorder in and then place it at the side of the pitch and secretly film. I did think it might put me off my game a bit as I know I would have half an eye on it to make sure it hadn't been trampled on or stolen.

I did start to get butterflies when I arrived at the Home Depot Center but once I got out of the cab, did a little bit of filming of the ground and started to walk round to the pitches absolutely nothing could have prepared me for the day that I actually had. For those of you who don't like reading, be warned, pretty much every second of this day was something worth writing about so strap yourself in!

Once upon a time, there was a young man a clever man a man who had too much time on his hands. This man also owned a computer...and a credit card. One day the man saw an advert on his computer asking foolish people to give a football team $130 so that non-foolish people could enjoy mocking the foolish people for their foolishness. Being a fool, and a fool with a credit card, the man typed in his details with no hesitation, caring not that the site to which he was disclosing his information did not display any sort of security sign or one of those little lock thingies in the bottom right hand corner as do most legitimate sites. Half expecting to see his account wiped clear of all it's money, imagine the man's surprise when, days later, he received an email informing him that his foolish whim had been rewarded by the chiefs of the LA Galaxy tribe. And so started an amazing adventure for the foolish man, his computer and his credit card...

Sorry. Got a bit carried away. (Actually, half of me would really like to tell the story completely like this! Maybe another time...)

Back to the tryout.

As I walked round to the training pitches to sign in, who should the first person I see but the big man, Alexi Lalas, riding in a golf cart! I can't believe my luck and yell at him, "Alexi! Look I made it!" And turn round, pointing at the back of my shirt where 'Getme2thegalaxy' is printed. The golf cart stops for a second, Alexi shakes my hand and says something like, 'Good to see you', 'Glad you made it' or 'Meet me in my office. I've got the contract ready.' (I forget which phrase he said exactly) I am buzzing. The first person I meet at the HDC is Alexi Lalas. Crazy.

As I turn the corner, I can see some of the tryout matches are already starting to take place. Before I do anything else, I bump into Sumi from CNN who takes me round the corner to do an interview. By now I can notice that people are starting to look at me and think, 'Who the hell is this guy?' I sit down on some steps and start chatting to Sumi when I notice a guy wearing a galaxy shirt has stopped just to the side of us. I knew that maybe some of the riot squad might be here today so we are both kind of looking at each other when all of a sudden he opens his mouth and starts chating, 'Kevin Payne, Kevin Payne, Kevin Payne!' I can't stop smiling and take a guess. 'Adam?' Turns out it is Adam, one of the very few people who actually donated from this site. I thank him, have a little chat and then get back to the interview with CNN. I don't think his timing could have been any better. By now, after hearing his chant, loads more people are looking, CNN realise I am legit and I am loving it! I answer the questions as best I can, saying how I am better than Becks and that I will surely succeed at the tryouts. I realise that I can pretty much say anything I want and the more controversial it is, (ie I will keep Becks out of the team) then the more they will probably use and the more media will think, 'This guy's deluded! Let's get him on tape making rash comments!'

It seems to be working. Going back towards the signing in area, a guy in official Galaxy uniform starts chanting my name as he drives past on his buggy. I have no idea who he is but can't stop smiling. Then another official guy comes up, hands me his card and says, 'Gary Gomez. Anything you want, just ask. Good to see you made it.' I am feeling like Becks himself. It turns out that a few people at the front desk at the galaxy had been following my progress via this site and so they are happy to see me. I am smiling but inside I am starting to get slightly worried as I think that they might actually think I am any good. Before long, pretty much all the media that are there have asked me questions trying to figure out what all the hype is. I feel pleased but slightly embarrassed as I am lead past everybody else to do a pitchside interview with Eurosport where they make me do kickups for the camera and then talk about what a difference Beckham will make to American Soccer. All the way through and inbetween the inteviews, Adam is sparking up different songs including my personal favourite, 'We're singing for Kevin, Kevin Payne! We're singing this song!' (to the tune of 'World in Motion') Brilliant.

Before long, George has turned up and so I meet him and his friend, Soca (not sure of spellling) who is going to be trying out. He already has his number pinned on him and it isn't long before we realise we will be playing against each other in the tryout. We both laugh it off but know that secretly we are even more nervous than before. George is great and even offers to film for me, a gesture that I will be eternally grateful for. (If it wasn't for George then you'd have even more writing to read so next time you see him, buy him a beer!) We are all having a good chat when one of the coaches walks past and says, 'You made it then! Good to see you.' I shake his hand and smile. Then I am nabbed by a reporter, 'Who was that?' he asks. 'I have no idea.' I reply. The reporter laughs and then I do one of the most enjoyable interviews I will complete. Josh Peter is writing for Yahoo sports and we talk at length about the site and how I have managed to create the hype all from silly videos and poor photoshop skills. He seems to really get the idea which I am pleased about, I can't stop worrying that people won't realise I am trying to be funny and just think I am pretentious. (But I guess that is funnier that people aren't sure whether to take me seriously or not)

After talking to Josh, I am chatting with my new pals when I see a young guy kind of looking behind me. Again, before I left I had been in touch with a guy called Matt who, amazingly, has found out that we will be on the same team at the tryout! I figure it might be him and sure enough it is another reunion! I meet Matt and his girlfriend, Lyndsey, who has come down to cheer him on. They are both from North Carolina and really cool. We both can't believe that we are on the same team and start to plan our tactics. I also meet another website contact in Fredrik, from Sweden. He has already tried out and scored two goals. I am really chuffed for him and now really starting to feel the pressure. It is so great to meet up with all these people who had seen the site, I just try and take in every second of the experience.

As the start time started to draw closer, I signed in and then meet some more of the LA riot squad. I can't believe how cool all these people are. I am being treated like a king. Another camera crew ask me to speak to them and before I walk over, Nines from the LARS whispers, 'That guy's Kenny Mayne. He is big.' He is not far wrong. He towers above me and dwarfs my hand as he shakes it. The interview is great fun, he tells me how he has just tried out and that he wasn't given the respect of the coaches so he is going to quit the game. I look sad and say that there had been whispers around the ground about the tragic news. I inform him that we are going to hold a minutes silence in his honour before our game and that every tackle we make will be enchanced by the thought that 'This one's for Keep.' (Kenny's nickname) After he has finished filming, he smiles and shakes my hand. (Again crushing it like a feather)

Going back to pitchside, I meet Steve from gmtv (a breakfast show in the UK). The idea is to film me at the tryout today and then do another interview tomorrow in the studio which will go out live in the UK. Steve reminds me of someone, but I can't quiet place it...oh yes, I remember now...

Finally, after 3 weeks of talking about it, I took to the pitch for the tryout. I won't go into too much depth about the game as you can watch for yourself below but suffice to say I enjoyed it. We played as a team, I did ok (I was melting under the harsh, February sun), Matt was awesome, Soca scored a goal but the best thing was the Riot Squad who kept shouting for the whole hour. It even lead to them being ejected from the ground and having to stand on the outside fence. Genius. The tryout would have been nothing without them so to Adam, Nines, LFC1892, Haggis, Chalky and Cassi - you guys rock. I did think about throwing my shirt to you but for fear that my pasty torso would blister from the sweltering heat. The best chant of the day was from Nines who kept on shouting, 'More sunblock for Kevin!' and, 'We need cloud cover, Kevin, we're gonna get you cloud cover!' Genius mk II. In his honour, I am currently making a 'getme2thegalaxy' game featuring him. Keep an eye out for it!

Below are two links to videos of me at the tryouts. Video 1 - the stuff I want you to see, athletic, composed play, skillful and creative. Video 2 - the other 58 minutes.

 

 

After the tryout, I resumed my role as media whore. I spoke to Swedish TV, Norweigan TV, and different radio shows and journalists. I have no idea what I said to any of them. As you may have seen on the video, as I jumped over the fence Kenny Mayne was there again filming the action. It is apparently going to air some time in April so I can't wait to see what they do with it! I was also pleased to see Dustin had come with a friend to watch too, it was so great of everyone to give me such support.

Nines took ,me to the 'Red Car' pub where I could relax, have some food and beer and shelter from the fierce sun. It felt like I was in the Sopranos or something because I wanted to go back to the hotel and get my wallet but LFC1892 just said, 'Your money's no good here.' Awesome. The LARS treated me like a king and I will never forget the welcome they showed me. In my own way to try and to try and pay them back somehow, I had made up a chant on the flight over and performed it for them at the Red Car. It is to the tune of Barry Mannilow's 'Copacobana'. Luckily, George captured the moment on film. I am kind of hoping that it makes it on to the stands at a galaxy game when Becks is playing, that would be an achievement. I've just had a good thought, the chant can be titled, 'Copacabeckham' Watch it here!

 

After leaving the Red Car, George gave me a lift back to the hotel so I could get changed and have a shower. We were going to go to Pasedena and hang out with his friends which I was really looking forward to. We had also joked at how George was now my agent and so I started calling him Georgie Maguire.

So there we are driving along, talking about music and planning to go to his studio and jam when my phone rings. Upon answering, the voice that is at the other end is the least expected and unbelievable person I could have thought of and thus lead to one of the most incredible of evenings.

'Hello' I answer. 'Hi, is that Kevin?' 'Yes, speaking.' 'Hi Kevin, it's Alexi Lalas here.'

At which point I seem to be possessed by Bill and Ted when I exclaim, 'No way!' But sure enough it is the big man himself. He tells me how he has just woken up my fiancee back in England (where it is 2:30am) to get my number and was wondering if I wanted to meet up.

'Yes, of course!' I bellow. He says he is in Playa Del Rey. I say we are on our way to Pasedena and could he come over there. (It is only when I put down the phone that George says to me, 'You just asked him to come to you! Alexi Lalas wants to meet you and you try and make him come to you!') Luckily, George has cottoned on who it is and says we can make it to Playa. I ask Mr. Lalas if I can bring George and his friends and he says fine. So, we arrange a time and then before you know it, I am no longer going to Pasedena but going for dinner with Alexi Lalas.

We are both gobsmacked. George gets on the phone to everyone he knows to tell them what we are up to. I cannot help but laugh at the amazing turn of events. We make our way over to Playa Del Rey where we meet George's fiancee, Annie, and two of his friends. They can't really believe it either. Albert, George's friend, is a season ticket holder like George and so both of them can hardly contain their excitement. Albert also proceeds to tell me how everybody thought George was mental for contacting me in the first place and that they had joked that George would wake up the next morning with his kidneys missing. I laugh heartily whilst trying not to look like Hannibal Lecter.

We enter the restaraunt and sit at a table where we have a good view of the door to see if he does actually show up. We are all making polite conversation but clearly all of us are waiting for the big guy to show. This is obvious because every time there is a flicker of movement in the room, George and Albert turn their heads like meer cats to see if it's Lalas. I, on the other hand, pretend like it is no big deal. However, little did they know that there was a hunking great mirror behind the table so I could keep checking the reflection. (cue wicked laughter)

Within a few minutes we can't quite believe it when there in the flesh is one Mr. Alexi Lalas. He comes and introduces himself and sits down opposite me. I begin to wonder if it would be inappropriate to play 'footsy' as a joke. (I decide against it) Then starts a very bizarre, but very cool, meal with 'El Presidente'.

He is a very cool guy. Very down to earth, relaxed and funny. We talk about his music, life in Pasedena, his beard, the World Cup and why the hell did he ever contemplate signing for Coventry? He is genuinely interested in finding out about all of us. During the meal we talk about the tryouts and he offers to pull rank and find out if I got through. As I was wondering how to get to a computer later on, I accept. One quick message later and he leans across the table and shows me a message reading:

'Kevin Payne is confirmed for tomorrow.'

Inside, I jump up and down. Outside, I look stunned. I hi-5 George who then suggests that Mr. Lalas should buy me a cake to celebrate. The big man gives the nod and within a couple of minutes a cake with a candle is brought out to celebrate me getting through to Day 2! I then joke with Alexi about how I was going to shake his hand with a 5 dollar bill to seal the deal and how he now has to phone up the other 130 successful trialists to let them know.

At the end of the meal, we shake hands and wave goodbye in the car park. Once Mr. Lalas is safely out of site, me and George start acting like star-struck idiots about what has just happened. He and Albert drive me back to the hotel so I can get some rest, prepare for tomorrow and curse myself for drinking beer earlier.

The following video charts the evening, with just a little glimpse of Mr. L. I didn't want to appear rude by sticking the camera in his face at the restaraunt but the next day after the tryout, I managed to nab him and send a message to my girl, Nikki. Watch the incredible series of events here.

 

I go to sleep with the biggest smile on my face. Who cares what happens tomorrow, today I'm on top of the world.

 

 

 

 

 
   
kev@getme2thegalaxy.co.uk
 

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