Last night marked the first time I had to wear gloves this fall. Major winter 2012 milestone. James and I went to watch the England Under-21s play Serbia at Norwich City’s ground, Carrow Road, and it was almost unbearably cold for an expat Texan. It doesn’t get this cold at home until December! Waaaaaah!
We’d been to watch Norwich City once last March before I moved in and had a great time, so we thought for 10 pounds a ticket, why not?! We put off buying tickets in the belief that it wouldn’t be that popular of a match, but we were wrong. It was nearly sold out, except for the balconies which they didn’t sell tickets for anyways. We ended up behind the goal, but in a stadium as compact as Carrow Road, there really isn’t a bad seat.
Now let me take a minute here to explain something. I’m quite into football. I have a fantasy team (#3 in our league at the moment and in the top 13% overall, thank you very much), and when I was at home sick the last two years, I would generally watch 4 or 5 Premier League games a weekend, then probably 2 or 3 Champions League games during the week. Sometimes even a Europa League match would sneak in. This does not mean, however, that I claim to know much about the game. I’m from the United States, remember. I can’t go around pretending to know about soccer. I pay attention to what is going on with the current teams and players, and follow Liverpool. I do enjoy watching pretty much any team (with the possible exception of Stoke), but I am woefully lacking in knowledge of tactics, positions, and history. This is because I don’t care about those things. It’s a sport, and I like to watch it.
*Disclaimer: I try to use the words “soccer” and “football” correctly depending on who I’m talking to, but that’s quite difficult with a blog. Assume either way I’m talking about soccer. If I’m talking about American football, which is unlikely, I’ll say “American football.”
So back to Carrow Road! Talking about stands, I did notice that there is a definite demographic associated with different areas. This is probably obvious to all British football fans, but I’m new here! At the Norwich game in March, in the Jarrold stand, we were surrounded by older gentlemen and families with young kids.
Last night, in the Barclay, it was almost entirely teenage and 20-something males. It didn’t really make a difference in atmosphere at an England U21s match though, as the passion for the team wasn’t exactly overflowing (i.e. we didn’t have to stand the whole time). We were subjected to 15min of the wave, but it did generate some much appreciated heat.
All in all, it was a fun, cold, and good-natured atmosphere accompanied by a mediocre at best football match. England ended up winning 1-0 with a penalty. It was taken at our goal, so that was fun, but otherwise it was kind of a dull game. James described it as, “Exactly what you would expect from England.”
Being Liverpool fans, it was fun seeing Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson. Sterling was really exciting to watch, and it was good to see Henderson actually playing well. Who knew?
My favorite moment came, however, when the 20 year old next to me got out his smart phone and showed a picture of his “gorilla surrounded by leaves” tattoo to his friend and pointed out all the improvements he plans to make to it in the coming weeks, like making the ears bigger. His tattoo guy will make adjustments to it for free! Score!