Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Day at the Football

Well this incredibly unprolific blogger couldn't resist writing about this one. It's not just the game of course - a Celtic victory over the local Brisbane Roar side 3:0. It was the experience. Haven't had that much fun at a game for a long time.

I took Jacob of course, and also Dawn, my fiance (I successfully proposed last Sunday), for her first ever soccer game (not including watching me play futsal last Tuesday).

As we approaced the stadium, by train then bus, it was clear that the Celtic support would rival the Roar support. I'm guessing over half of the 31,000 people were Celtic, which is kind of embarrasing but very cool at the same time. Approaching the stadium itself there was colour, bagpipes and chanting hoop-clad yobos. All fun.

Still in the tunnels, the PA began playing 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. I thought that was kind of cool, but a bit daggy. Then I started hearing voices - many, many voices - competing with the PA. I ran through the closest entrance and witnessed the entire southern end on their feet belting out the song. Wow! Now that was very, very cool. This crew was, quite frankly, showing the locals how it was done. It was already a brilliant event, indeed a unique cultural experience, and the game hadn't begun.

Next comes my one complaint. We went up the first set of stairs, along with many others, which stated clearly that they led to "Sections 726-732" (we were in 731). AT THE TOP was a single security person telling us that this entrance was closed to us. I'm talking seven flights of stairs. Maybe place the guy at the bottom of the stairs? Or maybe a single sign, "Please use another flight of stairs"? As I told the poor guy (who had clearly been given a bum job), this is terrible management. I emphasise again that the stairs were actually correct ones, according to the signs. They did not lead to closed sections, they were just for reasons known only to the management not being used. Anyway, good for the thighs, and a small complaint when compared to the total experience.

This crowd was brilliant. We were at the opposite end to "The Jungle", where the Celtic hardcore were designated, but we were surrounded on all sides ourselves by Celtic support and wild celtic accents. From our birds-eye view you could see green hoops throughout the stadium. Being above "The Den", where the Roar loonies are, we could not actually see them, and truly it seemed like a Celtic home crowd. Not flattering for the Roar fans that's for sure, but bloody brilliant to see and experience.

After the first Celtic goal, I almost hoped the Roar would not score because the cheer would have been embarrassing. I have never heard such a roar from a crowd. I had my Roar scarf on and of course hoped the Roar would not embarass themselves (to be sure, the first 30 minutes looked very competitive), but it was actually difficult to maintain my loyalty. With a crew like this, thousands of miles away from their home, Celtic deserved to win, they almost must win. "You'll never walk alone" indeed.

About half way through the second half Jacob noticed a Mexican wave getting going, which looked pretty feeble and he noted, "That's not going to get far." The stadium was just over half full after all and the season-ticket side was very thinned. How wrong we were! It went around FIVE times and then some, and it quickly became obvious that the momentum was from the huge portion of 'away' supporters throughout. I remember when Australia played Paraguay in the same stadium, to a packed house (50,000+) and being so impressed when it nearly went round three times. These guys just know how to party.

And not one but THREE seperate streakers. Talk about a complete package of entertainment.

Yeah, yeah the game was good. Both sides attacked throughout and it was always exciting. Nice to see Robbie Kruse back and he was very impressive for the first half after which he seemed to sort of lose control. Overall I wasn't embarassed for the boys in haz-chem. Celtic was just too good.

In the throngs back to the station after the game there was some brilliant (and all good-natured) yoboism from the hooped fans, climaxing in a staged group sex session between about five of them in the middle of Caxton St.

Dawn had fun, and not just for the reasons of spectacle, which bodes well for our future marriage. She said she actually found herself 'rivetted', and I could see why. As I said, the game wasn't cagey, but open, attacking and attractive. That's the way to seduce new fans.

Fantastic day at the football. Thankyou to whichever geniuses managed to organise this one. And, for what it's worth, and I hope these things have some impact, a Red Card to Racism.

PS. Jacob and I have booked our packages to The World Cup South Africa, paid deposits and, according to the correspondence, have tickets to Australia's three group games. How cool is that?