Musicians on Sports: Ian Hammond on Why He's a Huge Fan of Greek Soccer
Compliments Ian Hammond Chilling with Charlie Pickett, repping Olympiakos F.C.
Speaking with musicians about sports has been loads of fun, but for those who know me and know my obsession with fútbol, also know that for a long time now, local legend Ian Hammond and I have maintained a rolling conversation about the sport. Aside from being part of some of South Florida's better rocking outfits like R.A.F. and the D.T. Martyrs, Hammond's also been known to rock the leads on stage with Charlie Pickett.
More than respecting him as a musician with incredible reach and pedigree, I've routinely enjoyed ribbing him about his love for one of Greece's most successful clubs, Olympiakos F.C. I had a chance to speak with Ian about Olympiakos and Greece's showing in this past World Cup without ever mentioning to him that the only club worth following in the Greek Super League is Asteras Tripolis.
Lord knows I'll get an angry call for that barb. Keep an eye out for his upcoming album Proud Flesh.
Ian Hammond & the Riot Dogs
New Times: I guess we should first establish how you became a fan of the sport.
Ian Hammond: Like most kids in South Florida I played in a youth league, in my case Coral Springs, which during the late '70s was probably one of the larger, more prominent programs. I was a goalkeeper and also became a FIFA-certified youth referee. At the time there was really no American "soccer" on television. I normally don't use the "S" word by the way. I pretty much grew up watching Mexican fútbol on the Spanish stations, which explains my El Tri obsession.
You are an ardent supporter of Greece's most successful side, Olympiacos F.C. and as such you live the highs and suffer the lows. What is your take on this past season of the Greek Super League and how they managed their 41st championship?
It's funny, my connection to Olympiakos is far more tenuous than that of Mexican football. When I was in Greece, 2002 and most of 2003, part of the time I lived with a woman who had a son. At the time, he was eight years old, and a huge football fan. So I asked who his favorite player was, "Predrag Đorđević," and who does he play for? "Olympiakos." So I signed on as a supporter of O Thrylos the legend.
Olympiakos is a gargantuan fish in a small sea. Greek football has been in a bit of turmoil these past few years due in most part to the economic situation in the country. One need look no further than the gutting of A.E.K. (Athlitiki Enosis Konstantinoupoleos) and their eventual relegation as an example. To a degree, Olympiakos has suffered the least economic impact and in that regard the squad has been able to come first for the club.
La Quinta del Buitre, Real Madrid's most fearsome five-piece.
How do you feel about coach Míchel's job this past season? As the fifth peg of a famous Spanish side does he get scrutinized harder in your eyes?
There's no doubt that's true. A lot was expected, and in my eyes he's delivered for the most part. Certainly an improvement over Ernesto Valverde, who had me pulling hairs during his tenure! The club's performance on away fixtures during the Champions League or Europa Cup are problematic. They can dominate at Karaiskakis, but a lot of work is in order for more consistent results during those away matches.
Is Olympiacos' superiority partly responsible for a stacked showing in the national team's roster?
Absolutely, and it speaks much to the work of Míchel. Torosidis of Roma spent six years at Olympiakos before transferring. Go beyond Greece for further evidence, Kevin Mirallas with Belgium, Joel Campbell of Costa Rica. Historically the reach of the club is quite wide. Going back further years you find Yaya Touré, Nery Castillo, and many others who spent time at Olympiakos.