A certain Polish journalist said once that there is no big philosophy to football: there’s one ball and two goals, and that’s it! Well, he obviously forgot about the corner, free kick, penalty and, the most mysterious of all, the off side.
You see, women are not great at knowing what actually goes on during a football game. To most of us it’s just a bunch of guys, running around after a ball, while the rest of the male population watches with fascination, drinks beer, and swears at the players, coach or the referee.
I went to the last Chelsea vs. Manchester City game last Sunday because of two reasons: I’d never been to a real football game before, and I had a free ticket. It was also an opportunity to experience another aspect of the British culture.
Football is really big in the UK. Every larger city has their team (sometimes even more than one). London itself has several England’s leading clubs, fourteen professional and over 80 amateur leagues. The fans are very committed, watching every game of their team, even if this means getting up at 7 am on a Saturday, or traveling to the other end of the country. Everyone seems to have their own opinion about players and coaches.
A football match is also a social event, when friends and families gather together to cheer on their team.
Fights during games are rare and don’t really happen anymore. The British mastered the crowd control (with exceptions of the riots, of course) and eliminated the football hooliganism,which disrupted the games during the 60s until the 90s. You can take your children with you and not be worried that someone will hit them with a chair or a baseball bat. Now, the government is worried about the language people use during games, but this can’t really be changed.
I was pretty excited when I found out I was going to a real, big football game.
Chelsea football club is one of the biggest and their stadium is frequented by tourists all year round. It’s not only famous for their players, but also because of their Russian oligarch owner – Roman Abramowicz.
-Do you, at least, know who plays for Chelsea? – asked Adam.
-Uhm …Yes, Cheryl Cole’s ex-husband – I answered with pride.
I was right, he actually plays there. He’s quite handsome, so I probably paid a little bit more attention when Adam was watching a game.
My lack of knowledge didn’t stop me to enjoy the match, however. I was equally fascinated by the calm and friendly way the fans of both teams traveled on the underground, the friendliness of the police present at every corner, and the great vibe I got from the crowd.
The way to the stadium was filled with street stalls, selling merchandise and official programmes.
There was an official Chelsea orchestra playing, getting people warmed up by playing some recent hits and some old classics.
There’s not much I can say about the stadium itself. It is pretty plain. The green pitch with the blue seats look impressive, but the hospitality area isn’t special. Bare walls give the place slightly chilly feel, and except small TV screens there is no other entertainment. You can have a beer (surprisingly, the main sponsor is Singha – a Thai beer), or a hot dog. But the best bit about it: there were no queues to the ladies toilet!!
There were around 42,000 people at the game. A small group of the Manchester City fans was separated from everyone, but they were equally loud, sometimes even louder, than the Chelsea fans. There was a fair amount of swearing at each other, but no violence broke. After the game everyone went home in a civilised manner and no one got hurt.
Unfortunately, there were no goals, but the action was pretty good. I found myself following the game, standing up when it was close to a goal, and cheering Chelsea boys. It was so much better than watching it on TV, but I can’t tell you who passed the ball to whom, who almost scored, or what the best actions were. I belong to the group of women who can’t understand the off-side, even if you draw it to them, or explain using shopping metaphors.
-Do you think it was a good game? – I asked Adam, on our way home.
-It was OK. I think there was too much defense – he answered – Did you like it?
-Oh, yes, I did! I really liked the colours.
-What colours? – he asked surprised.
-Oh, you know, the green pitch, yellow ball, the blue, red and yellow uniforms.. It was really pretty.
So, sorry guys, if you want a real report from the game, it’s better to read it here.
If you want to attend a football game in the UK, it is best to purchase the tickets from the club’s website. The prices vary, depending on the seats and the popularity of the match, or club, but you can get tickets as cheap as £20.
As mentioned, games are safe and you can take your kids with you.
During this game taking photos was permitted only before, or after the game.