Monday Night Football at the Olympics

"Are you ready for some FOOTBALL????"

We were. En route to our last scheduled event with tickets for football at Wembley on a Monday night, we were more than ready for some football. To Americans it may be called soccer, but in the UK it was and is football. Logical given it's played with foot. Our grandson's tickets cost their age. Theo's was 2 quid, Ethan's 5.

My concern was how would the later reported 61, 482 attendees get to and from Wembley, and into the stadium? We allowed a huge amount of time, but nevertheless--times evaporates in crowds.

When we got to the tube stop, the crush was massive. Not for the faint of heart, but given the proliferation of families (once again)--not too intimidating. So on we slogged slowly for 30 minutes from the tube to the stadium. There it was, Wembley. Like the Olympic stadium, massive. Finding the "buggy" park--a buggy is a stroller--usually a Maclaren who OWN the market, we checked the buggy. After all of that, we were very happy to find toilets outside of the stadium. Then not so happy. The queues were 50 people long--for the ladies. The queues for the stadium at our designated entry gate was over 200 people.

The entry was a study in slowness. Lines for men with bags, women with and those without. We thought we'd allowed more than enough time, but began to wonder. Could you actually miss the match due to security lines? Things got curiouser and curiouser--with apologies to Lewis Carroll. To enter you sidled into a narrow metal sided gate, like a cow to the slaughter. When the automatic scanner read your ticket, the turnstile opened to let you--and only you-- through. I doubt anyone over 250 pounds would be able to get through. Given the security line for women with bags was worse than men with bags--and we had a small purse, diaper bag and briefcase--we loaded the men with our bits and bobs. When they got through they were told to go that way, so of course they followed the masses who went this way, in effect skipping security checks.

Up the escalators we went. And up and up and up again toward our seats. At the level of our seats, we found toilets with shorter lines (20 minutes before the game began) and junk food for sale. Given the --"No beer in view of the pitch" signs, a few rather sad looking men sipped quickly unable to enter the stadium with their beer. How strange in a land where it is legal to wander about London with a beer in a plastic cup, to find a place where beer was verboten. London--where open carry of firearms is NOT allowed, but open carry of alcohol is no problem. Now that's what I call FREEDOM!

Once again across from our seats we saw a 1000 or so empty seats. The pricier seats had stopped being sold days before the match, but I doubted any cameras would show them--given it might give the public the idea the Olympics ticketing is goofy as hell.

The match between France versus Japan began. As Yuki made the first goal, the sun smiled down upon England once again. Cheering crowds were dotted with kimonos as non Japanese and non French merrily cheered one side or another. A good play cheered by all. So civilized.

The young Japanese man to my right inquired about my grandsons--enthralled by their generic cuteness. Snapping photos of one, then the other, then us...we bonded in that way you bond with a stranger you'll never see again. He was over only for the Olympics visiting family in greater London. He had written in Japanese calligraphy cheers on the two plastic edged fans and when he found we were cheering for Japan too, gave me one as we high five'd each other when Japan made a goal.

Leaving the park was a massive exodus, eased by our shortcut cutoff for families with children in buggies' that was blocked to others. When the Jubilee tube came, we even found seats on board. Amazing.

 

Footnotes.

  • Chicago does one thing far better than London, stopping graffiti. It's everywhere in London and the suburbs around it. Bravo ex-Mayor Daley and current Mayor Emanuel.
  • Travelers on the subway in Chicago and the tube in London are the same. Trying to get into the thing at the last minute when the doors are closing. As heard in London, "Passengers should listen to the mind the doors message because it means the doors are closing." You think? Less litigious, at least the passenger cannot easily sue when caught in doors they shouldn't have tried to squeeze in.
  • The amazing public apology by one Team GB (Great Britain) athlete who lost. Apologizing for the waste of time and money of his NOT winning. What other countries athlete ever would do that?
  • And who will ever forget the ice lollies, or ice pop handed out gratis in Waterloo Train Station during the Olympics.  Talk about sweetening one's day.

 

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    Candace Drimmer

    I was an accidental expatriate; love and marriage led me to it. One day I was a bandy-legged kid sitting atop my dogwood tree looking out of my small backyard world in 1950s New Jersey, wanting to move somewhere--anywhere, different. Next thing I knew my father had accepted a job in Houston TX. I was ecstatic, it was a foreign land in 1961 America. After high school graduation, my parents’ gave me a matched set of fawn-colored hardsided American Tourister luggage. Taking the hint, I went to college; well four colleges in five years--it was the 60s after all. Meeting a young hirsute anti-war, soon-to-be-Peace Corps volunteer, I fell in love. After finishing up college coursework for my degree, but before I even walking a graduation stage, I grabbed the paper airline ticket my boyfriend had sent me, my brand-new passport, and was off to the airport and Lima, Peru.

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