So, me and a group of four Brits head to their favorite pub in the middle of York for some meals and a few drinks to energize us for the excitement of the big game ahead. Well… not “big” I guess. More like… I mean… alright I can’t lie to you, they stink. York City is not a very good football team, but it was my first match EVER so I was still super excited to see what one was like. Let alone an authentic British one! I was trying to understand the levels of professionalism with these English football teams, and after about twenty minutes of trying, I settled on the fact that York City is ROUGHLY around the same spot as a minor league baseball team would be in the MLB.
It takes about 15- 20 minutes to get down to the stadium from the city center, but you could feel the energy radiating from the stadium before realizing you’re there. We were still three blocks away when my mate looks over to me and says, “Oi you can hear them already.” Like all sport fans, no matter how good or bad the team is, people get hyped!
Now, I was a little taken back when I arrived at the field. I was expecting this big stadium with a perfectly green grass field and all the amenities that one would expect to receive when going out to a watch a sports game, but no. The whole vibe of this game felt awkwardly like you were about to go watch your high school play a soccer game at the local fields in town. A simple ticket office, a little concession stand, and about ten or so rows of seating on one side and about five on the other side of the field. Very simple stadium. I experienced a little culture shock here.
The shocked moved on quickly because the spirit of the crowd was extremely overwhelming. Quick reminder, football is life in England. It’s more than just a social thing. You will see all walks of life at these games. Little kids with their parents, young kids hanging with their friends, teenagers and college kids taking a break from studying, middle-aged men that came by themselves, and absolutely every single age onward was watching this game. And the best place to find them all is the standing section.
I know what you’re thinking, “Why would I want to stand for the next two hours?” TELL ME ABOUT IT! I suggested getting seats and the Brits, in unison may I add, turn to me and said, “bug off you don’t ‘sit’ (said with the fingers in the air mimicking air quotes) at a football match.” Apparently, the “thing” to do is stand on these wide steps with a long bar that stretches down the length of a step to lean on. It’s like a movie theater but just no chairs. And although I was mad about standing, it was the best decision ever.
Imagine being surrounded by hundreds of people just screaming and chanting and having an authentically enjoyable time. Doesn’t that sound awesome? The best part though is when York City would score. Flashback to the hallways in high school after the last bell rang. Loads of people all squished together and yelling down the hall. Ok good, now that I triggered your memory, multiply it by 10 and carry over the one. Absolute madness. Deafening cheers echo through the place while the stranger next to you, who is now your newly acquired best friend, grabs you and starts jumping up and down while screaming at the top of his lungs. Amazing.
Sadly, this only happened twice, and the rest of the time mostly consisted of men shouting some “fun” words at the players. Remember when I said they were bad? That was an experience in itself. Trying to understand the slang they were using with an awfully thick York accent was quite a fun little challenge. In the end, the game ended in a draw of 2-2. The fans were visibly annoyed with their team not winning but I could not have asked for a better game. Truthfully had an amazing time, and although I couldn’t feel my toes because it was incredibly cold, I’d do it again all over again. Now, never forget: Football=Life.