|The Carling Cup at Highbury, Arsenal vs. Everton 3-1
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
(Click the pic to view the very small gallery.)
(Click here to view a short video clip. 4kb, ~6 seconds, .mov format)
Marco and I visited Highbury last week to watch Arsenal vs. Everton in the Carling Cup. Highbury is Arsenal football team's home grounds. We were able to get tickets for the game for non-exhorbitant prices because the Carling Cup is considered somewhat less important than the other games played by Premiership teams.
Arsenal is currently so good that they played their "first" team members against their opponents, who were playing their starters. The first team consists largely of extremely young players (18-20 years old, sometimes younger) that they're trying out to see if they're a good match for the starting eleven, and starters who are coming off of injuries (Edu, in this game).
I knew that soccer was an intense game from watching Marco play and watching a few of the games on television, but nothing compares to actually attending a professional event. The energy is amazing, at least coming from the English fans. Some of the tourists around us were pretty stodgy, but for the most part, people watched both 45 minute halves without taking their eyes off the field. They gave running commentary, they chanted and screamed until they were hoarse and a disproportionately large percentage of them seem to favor smoking special cigarettes from Holland. The pictures are not great, but they do give you an idea of just how packed the stands are. I also shot a few brief videos. You can't see much, but the audio track says a lot, I think, considering the dinkiness of the microphone on my camera. The link goes to a clip of the chanting crowd just after Arsenal scored their first goal to equalize with Everton. Arsenal won the game 3-1.
2004-11-15 14:54 (UTC)
i stayed in highbury quadrant/finsbury park when i was in london. there was an arsenal game while i was there &although i didnt go, it was fun to walk around w. all the crazy people &buy scarves &such &such.
arsenal has managed to get me free drinks here as well;; betting w. british bartenders over games!
Man, I bet it was nuts living there. The tube station was such a mess after the game. There are so many vendors on that street, too. I made Marco try a flying saucer, you know, the wafer-candies with Pixie-stick dust in the middle. The first time I ate one, nobody warned me and I almost choked on the flavored powder.
Go you with the free drinks! Hopefully, Arsenal will remain a top team, so you have a good chance of winning more.
It kills me when people deride soccer as "boring." Obviously, they've been watching 8-year-olds playing rec league or something. My brother played for a season and a half with the Nomads, right up to the regional finals, losing to Hawaii's top team, but beating NorCal to be state champs during the full season he played.
And that was some sweet soccer (the goalie is on the US national team, and I think at least one player is on a European team in Spain, Italy or Germany). Good soccer is damn fun to watch. :)
I think it's a bit misleading to watch it on TV, which is probably where most Americans first view it. Especially if you have a dinky screen, and the players are just little specks bobbing up and down the field. You have to watch it live, or on a big screen, or with someone who's already a huge fan to have a proper football experience. Preferably a combination of the three.
Ah. See, I started out playing it. There's my skewed-view source. ;P
The thing that always intrigues me about European football is that in the States, the big news is when the stadium seating collapses because too many people are leaning to one side or another, or there is a massive riot sparked by drunken hooligans (why don't we use that word hooligan more here in the USA? Has it become purely European?!)...
We have the thug life here in America, where carrying a gun is considered chic. But at sporting events, I guess we have those wonderful tailgate parties where people get into various states of drunkeness... but what is it about the culture of European football that takes that to excess? Do they have no toehr way to vent other than going crazy at a football game?
One of the Brits I met here, Damian, gave us a fabulous quote. He said, "Football is a gentleman's game played by yobs. Rugby is a yob's game played by gentlemen."
I think the answer to your question is probably fairly complicated. For instance, there is a whole section of the British police force dedicated to tracking hooligans and trying to prevent rioting. They have a system for ranking hooligans. There is a small number, perhaps in the hundreds, of hooligans who are very organized about rioting. Most of the serious riots are premeditated. The vast majority of football fans will either run away from or will join a riot if it's already going on. I don't know what the origin of hooliganism at British football games, but I'd be willing to bet it didn't used to be inherent to the game. I think it was probably started by certain fans who were already dedicated to other violent causes (racism, for instance) and saw in the huge crowds at football matches the potential to do harm.
By the way, last year a Giants fan was shot by a Dodger's fan outside Dodger stadium. I don't think Americans are immune to the potential.