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Monday, April 03, 2006

Special: A Trip to La Bombonera

(The weekend's European wrap appears in the next post below.)

TDH has a friend in town, and it seemed like the time had finally come to visit one of the local shrines to football, Boca's Bombonera. TDH would never be caught dead in River's Monumental, except to see La Seleccion. Still, it was a bit odd to be an Independiente fan watching Boca v Banfield. But TDH cheered for good football, and Boca ultimately produced some.

Step back a moment, though, and consider the atmosphere. Hours before the match, blue-and-yellow shirted fans were flooding into La Boca, the modest harborside neighborhood where the eponymous team is based, to watch the reserves' match and start the festivities. By the time TDH and friend made it to their seats, about half an hour before game time, the steep-sided stadium was packed to bursting. Banners stretched down from terrace to terrace, and the drums and songs were already deafening.

Boca's cheerleaders were wearing just about the least clothing they could get away with in a mostly Catholic country, and they warmed up the crowd - sort of - until the team entered to a tremendous roar. Boca looked pretty poor for the first 40 minutes or so, scrabbling a goal that no one celebrated. Then, in the second half, the pivotal Daniel Diaz was sent off for a penalty that TDH couldn't quite see from the other end of the stadium. But with the score equalized, the crowd, which dubs itself the 12th Player, goaded their men constantly.

It was not to be an easy road home. Boca soon suffered another sending off for diving - an offense Banfield had been guilty of much more often. Yet the remaining nine men fought on, harrying Banfield's every attack, lunging in with no thought of injury to regain possession on their hands and knees. The entire stadium was singing, gesticulating, jumping up and down, banging on the fiberglass barriers. For the first time - even, regrettably, including at Tyneside - TDH felt that the support really could propel the home side to victory against apparently insuperable odds.

And finally, as injury time began to tick down, Ibarra pushed forward from defense, eluded his man near the corner of the 18-yard box and lashed an unstoppable thunderbolt into the far side netting. The result: pandemonium, and pure pleasure.


Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

sounds like a fantastic game.

I've always wanted to watch Boca, though the current team isn't the best.

Out here, watching football can be hazardous. sponsors pulled out of the last season when fans rioted through lilongwe after a game was cancelled. A couple of weeks earlier, running battles between fans and police escalated after a fan through a brick at a police officer. The cops responded by wading into the crowd beating anyone who couldn't get away.

7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

interesting to read about the diving.

Don't forget you can keep up with how many British/Irish players were in the Premiership starting lineups at the weekend, and every weekend, at

8:16 PM  

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