Sunday, August 7, 2011

Football and riots...

our tickets!
Yep.... Steve said it was 'quid pro quo':  he went to see musical theatre with me, so I would have to go with him to a soccer game.  OK.  Fair enough.  He got tickets for the whole family to see a pre-season 'friendly match' between Tottenham and Bilbao.  So off we headed to the Tottenham Stadium to see the game, with all three men dressed in tottenham shirts, so it would be clear which team we belonged to!

Of course, our affiliations would have been clear in any event.  If you look at the tickets, you will see they say "home supporters only" are required to state your affiliation at the time time you buy your ticket, and if you support the 'other' team during the game, one of the orange vested bouncers takes you out of the stadium. ... yikes!

I will admit that Steve got us a pretty good location:  11 rows back, and close to centre line.  The action was never far away!  Even if I am not really a soccer fan, I have to admit that it was a great location to watch things from!
ouch!  knees in pain!
 I have to also say that the seats were about as tight as any I have sat in.  I don't know if this is part of the effort to squeeze as many people into the stadium as possible (there were 28,000 people there), or just that Brits are smaller than we mighty Canadians!  You can see from our knees that the lack of seating room was a challenge!  The stands were full.  Lots of men out there with their small kids (not surprising, since as you can see from the ticket stubs above, kids could go for the low price of 5 pounds!)

Duncan's says his favourite part of the game was participating in "the wave" that ran around and around the stadium when there was a few minutes of downtime in the game.  There was one particular crash that took two players out:  one walking, the other on a stretcher.

We got to sing a bunch of songs (a necessary part of the game... audience participation and all that!)  One of the most interesting was the song "Stand Up if You Hate Arsenal".  Strange song to sing when Arsenal wasn't even there.  I guess some rivalries run pretty deep!  :-)

the final score

In the game itself,  Bilbao scored first.  It would be an understatement to say the Bilbao fans were in rapture.  We ended the first half at 1-0 for the Spanish.  Happily (at least for the home fans), Tottenham managed two goals right after half time:  the goals were within 5 minutes of eachother, and both happened when I had my head turned and was whispering something to one child or the other.  Ah well... such is my lot in life.   But even if I missed seeing the event, I was able to join in with the rest of the crowd in a rousing chorus of the song "look who is not singing now", sung to the Bilbao supporters (off in the Bilbao section).  I must say, the Bilbao supporters put on a great show, and were way noisier than their relatively small numbers in the corner of the stadium would have suggested they could be! 

On the way home, the queue at the train station was impossibly long, so we decided to walk from the stadium back to the Seven Sister`s tube station.  The evening was nice, so it seemed a pleasant diversion to walk rather than queue up.  The walk down the Tottenham high  street started off fine, but seemed a bit wierd near the end.  Traffic was not moving at all, and finally people started turning their cars around:  there seemed to be a block on the road up ahead.  Indeed, there were people crowding around a police station, and there were police all over... it looked like maybe a vigil or a protest.  It was hard to say, but the mood seemed a bit off, so we just kept going til we got to the tube station.   

In any event, it turned out that there were riots and fires later on that night in Tottenham... protests over the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan.  We had been walking past the first part of the march on the police station.  I didn`t hear about riots until tonight.... people are talking about the parallels to the last riots like this back in the 1980s...  Here is a bit more footage...   All I can say is, you could certainly feel something was in the air.  Glad we were home before it started....

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