Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Friend In Mexico Reports In To du Nord

Our friend & reader Andrew, aka, Hessian Obsession, is currently spending time in Mexico and took in a couple of league matches last week. Here are his excellent reports:


A few days ago I went to a Pumas of UNAM futbol match in Mexico City. I´ve been to a couple of their home games in past years, but never alone and not with the intention of sitting in the ¨porra¨ with all the aficionados. My friend couldn't get out of work in time, so I hopped the bus and headed to Olympic Stadium, made famous by the John Carlos and Tommy Smith black fist salute in 1968. The previous week there had been some intense clashes between Puma´s largest porra called ¨Rebel¨ and Club America´s ¨La Monumental¨, so the riot cops were in full effect even for a seemingly inconsequential match against the lowly Puebla club. As we entered the gates, each person had to go through three different security check points.

As we reached the inside of the tunnel leading to the upper deck, it was clear that this was going to be an experience without precedent. The tunnel was jam packed with fans from the Rebel porra. All you could see beyond the human traffic jam at the end of the tunnel was a fury of waving flags, but what gave me the goosebumps was the intensity of the singing in what now felt like a crowded party in a dimly lit cave. As the crowd repeatedly sang and chanted about their love for the club, the noise kept getting louder until it reached a crescendo. At this point everybody went nuts and started jumping up and down in a seeming euphoria to the beat of the drum! This continued for about 15 minutes, before the crowd poured into the stadium right as the game started.

As we reached the general seating of the porra, it became apparent that there would be no sitting, nor would there be any let up in the singing and clapping.

To move up or down the aisle, you had to go through the legs of people standing on top of the end posts for each row. These particular aficionados stood like this, straddling the aisle, the whole game. Not to mention that many of them were shirtless in the dark as it was pouring rain. The stands became a virtual party, weed smoke wafting through the air. In total, the whole Rebel porra had to have been anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 people.

The match itself was rather sloppy in the rain, but it was almost impossible to keep an eye on the whole game with all the general mayhem in the stands. As the Pumas scored the first of their two first half goals, it was all out pandemonium! People rushed forward on top of the concrete stands, pushing and pulling in excitement. As some were falling down in the chaos others were helping them up. As this subsided, the began to sing a song where everybody slid to their right and then back to the left. It was a marvelous sight to a few thousand people all moving in the same rhythm! This all repeated over again as the crowd delighted in the Pumas second goal a few minutes later.

It looked like the Pumas had the game in the bag, but they conceded two goals near the end of the match to finish with a tie. The porra seemed stunned, but continued their support for the blue and gold until the final whistle. Now on to Pachuca to see the Tuzos play their first game since winning the Super Liga Championship…

- - - -

Three days after watching the Pumas tie yet another match, I decided to take a bus to historic Pachuca. Located only 75 miles outside of the capital, I wanted to see for myself what their legendary club was all about. As I arrived in this picturesque town, I noticed that there were pasty shops on every block. A pasty is a baked pastry filled with meat and vegetables, most commonly found in Cornwall, England. I was told by a local resident that Cornish immigrants settled in the area to work in the nearby mines near the turn of the 20th Century. More importantly, it´s also recognized that Cornish immigrants are also responsible for bringing fútbol to México, played on breaks between their work shifts in the mines.

As I entered the stadium to see the Tuzos take on San Luis Potisí, I noticed that there was very little security. It was a very casual atmosphere, a far cry from the rowdy crowds that dominate games in the capital. The stadium looked very new and had a polished feel to it. As I entered the stands, behind the Pachuca goal there were supporter´s sections on each side. I sat near ¨La Ola Tuzo¨, the larger and more vocal of the two porra. As the teams warmed up, they showed a replay of the Super Liga penalty shootout, much to the delight of the crowd.

Right before the match was about to start, I was surprised to hear the NFL´s theme song boomed over the loudspeakers as the P.A. announcer called on the crowd to support their championship club. It seemed contrived and unnecessary for such a renowned futbol club. Also, the crowd definitely had a more middle class, family friendly atmosphere than I had expected with lots of young kids filling the seats of the porra. I was somewhat skeptical about the prospect of a memorable experience, but the crowd made its presence felt once the match ensued.

The first half was a toughly fought affair, with both sides having good opportunities on the pitch. Near the end of the first half, a sloppy defensive error by Pachuca led to San Luis´ first goal. The crowd was not happy as the whistle sounded the end of the half. As the teams left the pitch, over the loudspeaker´s they played that cheesy song from the Rocky soundtrack, ¨Hearts on Fire, Strong Desire¨!

As the second half started and the rain started to come down, no more than a few minutes passed when Pachuca scored to equalize the game, sending the crowd into a frenzy. One young girl wearing a Pachuca poncho climbed all the way to the top of the barbwired fence behind the opposing team´s goal to show her admiration! From this point forward, the game was all Pachuca. They scored four unanswered goals, but it could´ve easily been six or seven! The poor opposing goalkeeper, looking like Paul Simon from the 70´s with his curly balding mullet, was mercilessly berated by the crowd. The match was a total blowout and the crowd loved it! To show their approval, the crowd sang ¨Cantan No Llores¨ in a most boisterous manner near the end of the game. Seeing Pachuca at home was a blast, but now it´s back to Mexico City to see if the Tuzos can win on the road against Cruz Azul…


Hessian Obsession is a supporter of the Minnesota Thunder and Chicago Fire. He can be reached with email at amacdonaldphotography@yahoo.com

5 Comments:

Anonymous bq said...

Andrew-

Great writing, excellent report buddy! Felt like I was there.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Matt L said...

Great story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fun story. As someone growing up in England, I had no idea they ate pasties in Mexico. Sort of like a British burrito, really.

4:51 PM  
Blogger mamacita chilena said...

Cool, I liked the feature. When he was describing the game it felt just like a Colo Colo game here in Santiago!

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brucio,

How can someone reach you age, yet still be clueless about when to use an apostrophe ?

Do you truly not know the difference between the plural form and the possessive form ?

The ironic thing is you often say that so-and-so "is dumb," or gives "dumb analysis," yet you...well, I already made my point.

2:54 PM  

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