Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Mathias Sees Citey

Sanford's Soccer Net Technical Advisor Mathias Kolehmainen took in the Manchester City vs. Sunderland match last night. His report is below. -Sanford

Went to the Manchester City (called just "City" by the fans) game
against Sunderland last night. I took a taxi to a pub (The Plough) in
some town outside of Chester. There I met D and his buddy, Biddo.
They both showed me their City tattoos.  D has two.  D and Biddo
have been City fans all their lives. These guys are busy consuming as
much beer as they can before the bus comes. Great quote: "you have to
get pissed to watch City". Not wanting to stand out, I had a couple
of pints. Interesting fact: at the game, you are not allowed to bring
beer out to your seat.

The coach arrives (late), we board (10 pounds) and head towards
Manchester. This is a rented tour bus and on it are a friendly
assortment of very devoted City fans. They are of all ages, teenagers
to retirees, mostly men. These guys go to just about every game all
over the country. Recently when City was in the UEFA Cup, D
traveled to all the games around Europe. I expected non-stop singing,
but the bus ride was a fairly sedate affair.

Even though the bus was late, we arrived about 45 minutes before the
8pm kick off, so D and Biddo take me to a pub called The Manchester
which is across the street from the stadium. This place is run by a
well known ex(?) hooligan, who apparently drives a Bentley and is not
to be fucked with. The place was absolutely packed with mostly drunk
large English men. Most with bald or shaved heads, some singing very
loudly. Oasis is cranked on the stereo (apparently Oasis are huge
city fans
). Several odes to City are played, including a punk version
of Blue Moon (the official City anthem). It was a volatile
environment, but the strange thing was it wasn't scary or threatening.
D said that it sometimes gets a little unpleasant in there. At
some point a couple of police came in and the energy level went up a
little bit. We left soon after, and as we did we saw that a van full
of police was unloading outside. Not sure if they went in there or
not. We headed to the stadium.

The stadium is a very modern building maybe about five years old. It
is pretty impressive looking all lit up with blue neon. Inside, along
with food and drink vendors there are betting areas where you can bet
on the outcome, who will score, or the score at half-time.

The seats were great, probably about 10 rows back from the field about
1/2 way between the goal and center field. The great thing about the
stadium-- which they got all wrong at the Home Depot Center-- is that
the first row is literally about six inches off of field level. So
you are really very close to the field and you can tell. And what a
field. Really vibrant green with a light mist rising off of it.

In the stadium you could see many empty seats, but as soon as the
music switched to this sort of eerie Tubular Bells sort of soundtrack,
the place quickly filled up. The Who-esqe Premiere League anthem was
played and the players came out. The crowd was on their feet

City actually didn't play that well, but the did score a great goal

and that was all that mattered in the end beating Sunderland 1-0.

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