by Frank Lewis
Like many Browns’ fans, Gordon Sparks is excited about the upcoming season. He even thinks new coach Eric Mangini will get the team into the playoffs. He's surprisingly excited for a guy who lives in Plymouth, England. A BBC radio personality, he flew into town this week and will spend two weeks here working on a story about Cleveland that he’ll turn into an hour-long BBC radio special that will air sometime this fall. (He arrived just after a visit from an Irish travel-show crew.)
Sparks arrived in Cleveland on Monday, July 13 and has spent the week running around town. Upon his arrival, he had dinner at the Chop House and spent some time visiting the various bars and nightclubs in the Warehouse District. The next day, he toured the Rock Hall and then went up to the Collinwood area, where Beachland co-owner Cindy Barber gave him a tour of the eclectic shops in the neighborhood. Later that evening, he went to the Winking Lizard on Coventry, where he was shocked to see he could get a pint of Hoppy Otter, a beer from a brewery not far from where he lives. He attended the sold-out Veronicas show at the Grog Shop. From there, it was on to La Cave du Vin for a nightcap.
Sparks spent the rest of the week running around town in his rental car, checking out everything from the Cleveland Museum of Art to the Polka Hall of Fame and the Greater Cleveland Slo Pitch Softball Hall of Fame. He also spent a day at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sparks, who’s called Plymouth Argyle soccer games for the past 25 years, will also provide play-by-play commentary for the NFL regular season game that takes place this year at London’s Wembley Stadium; he’s one of the few British sports commentators who understands the American sport. Here’s to hoping his prediction that the Browns make the playoffs is
an informed hunch. — Jeff Niesel