The beezy fo sheezy
So a month an a half was as long as it took for me to taste the forbidden fruit of Argentina......soccer....It is hard to explain what soccer means to people down here. It is way more than a way of life. It is life. I feel like if soccer was for some reason banished, lots of people would kill themselves. Gruesome but true. I have no real allegiance to an Argentine team, but the NOBs are growing on me. Brad and Mike are newells fans, so I naturally lean towards the red and black, but I really don´t care.
Watching a game in person was a highly anticipated event for me. I had heard it all, people get rifle butted in the face by cops, riot police are stationed around the stadium for protection, fans of the opposing team have a separate entrance and exit to the stadium, fans will shank you if you wear the wrong colors or don´t sing, yell, and jump around for the entire game, etc. Locals don´t even wear clothes affiliated with the team because it is dangerous. All these warnings led me to believe I could potentially die going to a game, at the very least see a knife fight...and we all know I´ve got a wild immagination...for example, when I was told that Buenos Aires has the biggest street in the world, I expected to not be able to see the other side of the street. I mean, the street was big, but not THAT big. Let´s just say my imagination over hyped the reality. Same with argentine soccer. Now, don´t get me wrong, people are crazy for soccer like I mentioned, there is barb wire fencing around the field for a reason. Fireworks are set off throughout the match, and sometimes teams play in empty stadiums because the fans are too crazy to have them be at the game in person. So the game was crazy, just not knife fight crazy.
Back to it though, the group of gringos was large....Mike, myself, Jeff and Brian Klatt, Ricky Rico of the dream team, Dane, Brian and Alex. For those of you who don´t know the fellas, it was the group from beerfest plus Rico and the Klatt bros. After an intense cavity search to enter the stadium, we swooped on a section in the upper deck. This game was important because San Lorenzo, a team from BA, was in 1st place, and NOB in 4th or 5th, so basically they had to bring it. This is OUR house, and nobody, and I mean NOBODY, comes into OUR house and tells US what to do!
The game started with passion. Fans from both sectors were singing and jumping. All songs have to do with we need to win, play hard, F the other team those c sucking bastards, we´re the greatest and we just had sexual relations with your mother etc etc etc. I´ve never heard more swear words in one place....made me crack my shiz up each time. Everything was going great though, good ball movement, good energy, but out of nowhere disaster struck. A break in the defense and a quick goal was scored by san lorenzo. the collective sigh by Newell´s fans could have killed a thousand kittens it was so sad. The half ended 1-0 and luckily I was warned by Dane to sit down immediately after the whistle blows, because if you don´t you are forced to stand for the entire half because everyone is packed like sardines. After an amusing halftime filled with a fight and some beauty queens walking around on the field, the second half got underway. The crowd really tried to pick the team up on their shoulders, and the whole section started moving. The concrete was literally bouncing and it seriously felt like we were going to humpty dumpty the mo f´er. The stadium had been remodled 10 yrs ago, but it looked like it had been built in the 30´s. Rusted chairs, faded paint, i was told the bathrooms don´t have lights and you just have a giant hole/vortex where you do your business. Lucky me I didn´t drink any water!
But despite the heavy cheering, San Lo got another quick goal, sending us straight into despair. That´s when things got dirty. The ref had been f´ing shiz up the entire game...not even giving the home team calls, but fights started breaking out in the second half. I´ve never seen more drama, or cards given in a sporting event...except for one san jose sharks game I saw where both penalty boxes were filled with players to the point where no more people could go in. But there is a difference btwn hockey and soccer, right? These guys were some of the best actors I´ve ever seen....straight up beverly hills....every fall was bone shattering, writhing around in pain, ankle grabbing, knee twisting, like limbs had been dislocated or torn from their bodies. Game stops, trainers come out, so does the golf cart, they get carted off, and two seconds later they´re back running full force. One guy ran into the goal post on a corner kick, looked like he really got messed up, I felt bad for laughing at him messed up, nope, same drama and back in the game in no time. Red cards were given to both teams and NOB´s coach got ejected. I´ve never seen anything like it. Newell´s was down 3-1, both teams playing with ten guys, and the coach gets tossed. He walks to the corner flag, and then runs diagonally across the field waving his hands in the air. The crowd gets up and everyone loses it.
He officially set a fire under his players proverbial pants. NOB starts to dominate. The ball rarely crossed into their half of the field. BOOM, they score another goal. Now we´re only down 1 with maybe 10-15 mins left. They keep pushing, we keep yelling, and then there was a defensive collapse on san lo, one on one, forward vs goalie, and smash, ball rockets to the bottom right corner of the net.
The stadium explodes. I turned to my left immediately after the goal, and I looked right into the eyes of the dude next to me, and do you know what I saw? Pure happiness. Honestly I´m not sure if I´ve ever seen someone´s eyes like this 50yr old man´s. We instinctively embraced and kept screaming and jumping in disbelief, not wanting the moment to end. So newell´s came back from the brink of extinction to muster up a tie. Not too shabby....not to mention that one of san lorenzo´s goals was a terribly called PK....but what more can I say, it was one hell of a game.