Saturday, December 05, 2009

Boca Juniors 4 - 0 Gimnasia

For both Christina and me a dream fulfilled - we went to a Boca Juniors game at La Bombanero!!!The stadium shook, the crowd roared and La Boca scored and scored!

Arriving early before the game to avoid “trouble”, we had the opportunity to visit some of the ingenious shanty buildings of Boca, before wading our way through line after line of police barrier surrounding the stadium.
For those who do not know Buenos Aires or football, Boca is the old port of BA and Boca Juniors are their crazy mad football team. The area has all the poverty, prostitution and civic atmosphere you expect from a port and Boca Juniors have more obsessive loco fans than just about any other team in the world (they make Milwall look like pussies!). Boca Juniors are also one of the most successful teams in the world, winning numerous titles at national and international level.
We sat, or rather were crammed in standing at the goal end opposite the die-hard “Doce” (twelfth man) supporters. It was quite something watching them decorate the stadium in the hour leading up to the game with banners, flags and fliers. Once they started to sing and shout, they never stopped. One song after another about how Boca is their life, they will always be there for Boca and they can't wait to kill all River Plate (their big rivals) fans! Drums, a full brass band and earth-shaking jumping bring the intense atmosphere to a crescendo.

Our end is an only slightly toned down version of the other and from the first whistle the place is alive with emotion. For safety as well as the experience (the fans sometimes blame poor performances on bad luck from tourists who do not support with sufficient gusto) we throw ourselves into it.
The football itself is of a mixed quantity. Some great movement, tricks and attacking ability. Defense on the other hand was rather shocking. Goalies and full backs should not be doing tricks to beat attackers on the last line of defense. Alex Ferguson or any British manager worth his salt would roast half of these defenders alive. It did add to the entertainment though and I suppose that is the point.

Four good goals set the fans alight. One of those occasions when you lose yourself in a unique compulsive atmosphere. As you can imagine, the Gimnasia fans were not best pleased. Sitting in the tier below these apparently “generally liked” fans, we were relieved to be under the awnings rather than in the open when they illustrated their displeasure with an increasing stream of bags full of just about anything that a human body can produce. Bag of poo anyone? No? Piss more your cup of tea? The Boca fans stuck their fists up and challenged them to bring it on.... I'm glad we waited a bit before departing after the final whistle!
An experience beyond that of just about any football game I've been too (up there with http://walter82.blogspot.com/2005/10/dos-semanas-en-ecuador.html). With inane grins on our faces we took the bus home to try and make sense of what we had just witnessed.
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