The Bucket List, part six
6. Passion and Atmosphere
Welcome to the Headers & Volleys Bucket List. World football is a big place and sometimes there seems almost too much to see. In this series we will be looking at the top things to see and do, before you pop your clogs. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section below, or contact us here and we will feature the best entries on the site.
Football has a unique atmosphere that is created by the passion of its supporters. Other sports will argue that this isn’t necessarily restricted to football matches, however in my experience of the chanting and banter at Lords and swinging low at Twickenham, there is nothing quite like the big football games.
My next two entries relate to attending football matches to experience the passion and atmosphere forged by fans in unequivocal support for their side and the desperation for victory. The first is a ‘derby’ match. One of the greatest sporting events in this country is the Epsom Derby – A horse race founded by Lord Derby. The term derby has been commonplace in sport when there is a particularly big rivalry or event. This is evident away from sport too i.e. ‘Destruction Derby’. The long and short of it is that it’s a blimmin’ big deal and therefore generates a lot of tension, atmosphere and excitement. Now for me to decide which derby to attend is a little unfair, I’m sure everyone had their own ideas of the fiercest and most intense version; the sectarian and religious nature of the Glasgow Derby always seems one enveloped in passion, however four or even six a season ensures this loses a touch of the edge. Recent ‘El Clasico’ matches have also been regarded as a must see. Barca and Real have two excellent sides and with the history that again clouds their two regional provinces, the nature of their particular derby is as much about territory and pride as it is about football one-upmanship. In England, the North London, Manchester, Merseyside and Birmingham derbies are all about bragging rights of the city and the Liverpool v Man Utd match seems to always get a high billing due to the rivalry being between England’s two most successful clubs. Across Europe there are other big derbies and it isn’t my place to say one has a “better atmosphere” than another. In South America apparently the Boca Juniors-River Plate ‘superclasico’ is as intense as they come. This derby has socio-economic undertones too with Boca representing the workers and River plate the more affluent. “Derby day in Buenos Aires makes the Old Firm game look like a primary school kick-about” quotes the Observer and if you do ever get the chance, I think a ticket to this spectacle is the same price as a lottery ticket. So if you don’t win the lottery the entry fee still won’t break the bank, though the flight might, so why not stop in after you visit Brazil?
Having made all these cases for notorious derbies I still find myself pulled towards one derby in particular; it may be curiosity or full blown madness but there is something, which screams out to me. Remember the “WELCOME TO HELL” banner? I’d like to go there…on derby day and see Galatasaray versus Fenerbahce! I know curiosity killed the cat, however before I die I would love to go to Istanbul and watch the only city derby where the teams come from different continents: The Kıtalar Arası Derbi. Fener originate from across the Bosphorus Sea and therefore stand on the Asian side of Istanbul whereas Gala represent the European side of the city. The rivalry is bitter, with the current results standing 140-116 in favour of Fenerbahce. The city builds up for weeks in preparation and during the game itself, the stadium is awash with banners, flares and passionate fans. It may be weird, random and potentially dangerous, so if you’re not keen I could understand why. In truth I am really only urging you to watch a highly passionate derby game, but having been to quite a few of these already I am curious; is there a derby that is bigger and better than any other? And with Beelzebub on my shoulder, I am sorely tempted by a derby in hell.
Coming up next time: Ryan looks at the pinnacle of football achievement, The World Cup, in ‘International Football Fever’. Click here to see the previous articles in the series and get in touch if you’d like to contribute.