If you don’t know what London 2012 was, I demand to know where you have been for the last 10 years, especially the past 12 months. I am, of course, talking about the Olympic Games, that every Brit (I can’t talk for the rest of the world unfortunately) was sick to death of hearing about. You couldn’t go anywhere, or do anything, without being reminded about them, and the closer the games drew the worse that it got. Remember we’re British, we were only ever destined to mess it up monumentally, especially after Beijing’s amazing performance. This was our chance to once and for all become the laughing stock of the world, in the most public demonstration imaginable.
I was buzzing from the moment I heard that we had won host country. Not because of the economic benefits, or because we could laugh at the shambles that is Britain, or anything political. None of that nonsense. I was excited that something I loved was going to be close enough to home that maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to experience it in real life and not just on a TV screen. So yeah, has soon as the applications for tickets opened I was in there. 2 tickets for the mens football at Hampden- BOOM. Okay, so it wasn’t London, but none of my friends were as keen as I was and there was no way I was taking my brother all the way to London during a security nightmare like this. Consider it Olympics on an almost budget, if you will.
So on Wednesday the 25th of July, after 2 bus’ and too many hours, we found ourselves wandering the streets of Central Glasgow trying to find our hotel.
When we woke up on the Thursday, the weather was pretty Scottish – it was dull, it was fairly indescript but it was unusually dry. So off we set back to Buchanan Street, to get a free (aka you’ve already paid for this with your taxes) shuttle bus out to the Stadium. We were there too early to be let in straight away, and my brother (both of us, cough cough) was too agitated with excitement to queue so we went for a wander around the stadium to see what was going on and fout some street entertainers and a merchandise stall (an official one, no fear). We couldn’t possibly go to the Olympics and not get t-shirts, right?!
So yeah, by the time we went back round to our allocated point of entry (oooh) security had opened the stadium and started letting people in. We joined the queue, and when we got to the front my brother started making conversation with the police, informing them that Japan were going to win, and that he wanted Japan to get the gold.
“What, not Team GB?” asked the policeman
“I think you mean England.” My brother replied.
Callum 1: Policeman 0
(In case you weren’t aware, no Scottish players were picked for the Team GB men’s football squad. It was a very Scottish policeman, so no harm done!)
We got into the stadium, and I actually thought my brother might wet himself with excitement. Despite having been telling me for months that he didn’t really want to go, that it would be boring. Here he was; in Hampden, for the Olympics, and he would get to see the team he was rooting for in the World Cup take on world champions Spain. This was also when it was brought to my attention that this was the first ‘real’ football match he had ever been to (“Kirsty, the grass really is stripy! It’s not just the TV!”) I’ve never seen him smile so much in his life.
We were lucky enough to get to see two matches; Honduras vs Morroco + Spain vs Japan.
Within 5 minutes of the first match, we were calling it as a draw. Honduras and Morroco were two incredibly well matched teams, almost to the point of frustration. On both teams, the defence was just as strong as the attack, and this is why the first 39 minutes of the game remained goal free. Then boom, Morroco broke the mould just before half-time. A goal from Honduras at 57 minutes brought the teams back level, and then they were able to pull themselves into the lead not even 10 minutes later with a well aimed penalty. Before the (half empty) stadium had even calmed down (we were starting to become quite an excitable bunch by this time) Morroco equalised. 3 goals in 10 minutes. Even though both teams fought like Hell for that first Olympic 2012 win, the match ended 2-2 and that’s the way it should have been in my opinion.
If you’re particularly interested, all the stats for the match are here ; http://www.london2012.com/football/event/men/match=fbm400d02/index.html
(you didn’t seriously think I remembered all that on my own did you?)
The second match, the long awaited Japan vs Spain, was a totally different experience to the first. The stadium filled up pretty quickly as people flocked to see the world champions and there was a sudden abundance of Asian looking (presumably Japanese, but that would be racist wouldn’t it?) people (I’m going to say tourists, does that make me even more racist?). This match wasn’t only different because Hampden now contained three times as many humans though, although it definitely contributed. There was a sudden influx of passion from the fans, a passion that should be found at all good football matches, because this time people were supporting a team. In the first match, very few people genuinely cared if one team bet the other. With the exception of the ‘asian looking people’, my brother and I, everybody was there to see Spain. Except, to quote my brother, “it wasn’t the real Spain.” and I don’t think many people had realised this (all Olympic male footballers must be under 23 years of age).
This was a very different game on the pitch as well as in the stadium. The up and coming Spain are an aggressive, hot-tempered bunch. They would lash out at Japan, and the Japanese players would shrug it off and play on (I wish they hadn’t, so many more Spanish players should have been booked), but as soon as a Japanese player went near a Spanish player a riot kicked off, all of it blatantly faked. Not only this, but they are actually a pretty lousy bunch of footballers. My brother took great pride in pointing out that, unless some pretty dramatic changes are made, Spain will not be the best team for much longer. Japan were easily the best team in this match, resulting in 2 things – a large proportion of the Spain fans leaving well before the game ended (like 15-20 minutes before), and Japan winning 1-0 earning themselves a very well deserved 3 point lead in the group stages.
The hard-working ‘Game Makers’ were even nice enough to provide post-match bus’ back to the city centre…for which my brother and I then queued an hour and a half for. Double decker bus though, so it was totally worth it. (This probably isn’t nearly as exciting for most people as it was for us. Public transport’s a bit limited where we live, okay?) The route the bus took back to the city centre let us see just how much effort Glasgow had put in to decorating for the event – it was really nice.
Then Friday came, and it was home time…
p.s for some reason when I published this the first 500 words vanished into thin air (cyberspace?), so I’ve had to re-write the first bit, sorry if it seems a bit disjointed.