“Una cerveza, por favor.”
I speak Spanish. I speak enough Spanish. Fortunately, Mrs TB who was making a footballing return speaks more than one sentence and was doubling her season’s football match attendance in the lovely Mexican town of Oaxaca. This was ostensibly our honeymoon. I had hijacked that pile of romantic nonsense for an evening at the Estadio Tecnológico de Oaxaca for a Mexican fourth division game between Chapulineros de Oaxaca and Deportivo Gladiadores. Chapulineros were my boys. Chapulineros means something like cricket or grasshopper and these pesky insects also make a lovely dancing couple on the club’s badge.
We arrived at the game feeling pretty merry after a day’s cooking course with an open bar of beer and mescal. Arriba. In fact, I had even eaten some chapulineros (no central nervous system) as part of the food that we were making. This risked giving rise to an tough superstition of eating your club’s logo before the game. Ignoring my vague vegetarianism, this would be plausible for MTK (goose), Spurs (cockerel), Kilmarnock (pie) but harder for teams from the US such as Miami Dolphins, NY Yankees and Boston Red Sox. I digress.
Buggered if you have the back row in the wheelchair section.
Oaxaca is a great provincial Mexican town that I only knew about due to the small UK restaurant chain with spelling issues with the same name. This seems like reason as any to go somewhere. Don’t drink mescal. It tastes like a petrol and vodka cocktail. If you happen to like that flammable mixture, then it is probably cheaper just to order petrol and vodka. Maybe also have a stomach pump on hand.
The stadium is apparently designed to look like the sport court found at nearby Mesoamerican ruin of Mount Alban. It looked like a football stadium to me with lots of orange seats. We did go to Mount Alban the next day and the sport court looked like a mini-football stadium so I suppose in a sense the plan was successful. Entry was a pittance and we soon found ourselves in the stands. Strangely, the whole stadium was open despite there only being 300 people or so in a ground that seats just shy of 15,000. It usually plays host to Oaxaca’s other better team in Mexico’s second tier.
Love my denim shorts.
My boys were playing in electric pink. They looked like boys as well. Boys playing on an oversized pitch. Technically, they were very good, but the game had zero physicality and any attempt at a tackle led to a foul. It was not a great game, but the away team managed to sneak a goal against the run of play after about one beer/23 minutes.
Half-time came and saw me inspired to take an unaccompanied visit to the club stall. This (after mescal and beer) was risky. And so it proved. After some ferocious discussions in Spanish, I managed to secure myself an electric pink replica shirt for a bargain EUR 12. It took some explaining that it was for me and not my girlfriend, but I got there in the end. This purchase very much turned the fortunes of the home team who dominated the second half before scoring with a looping header over the tiny away keeper. 1-1 in the last minute of the game. Me and the other Chapulineros would take that. Or would we? Instead of wandering off the pitch, the players seemed to be congregating at the centre circle. No. It couldn’t be…a totally unnecessary penalty shootout. My second live penalty shootout after Brondby-Hibs. This was better. Much better.
I cannot remember many details. But at 4-4, my fever was stoked higher. Sudden death. And then they did walk off. And that was it. This seemed like a really pointless way to end the game.
We got a taxi back into town, me becked in pink and drank craft beer from Tijuana. Happy days.