The English Premier League is said to be the best in the world. Players from all across the globe come here to make a name for themselves. After all, the Spanish league may have Messi and Ronaldo, but with Barcelona winning their first five matches and Manchester City recently losing to newly-promoted Cardiff, the Premier League offers the excitement of unpredictability. Nevertheless, it is easy to fall into a state of patriotic stubbornness. Most ticket prices start at £35 and for important games they often reach £70. What is more, there is often more atmosphere at the Bingo Club next to the stadium and the closest you can get to the players is through clicking a ‘follow’ button on Twitter. I began to consider whether we really do have the best league in the world and decided that perhaps the only way to fairly judge the leagues would be to visit a match in every country. Impossible? Probably. Worth a go? Definitely.
The challenge began last August, with a five night trip to Poland booked to visit a friend living in Krakow. When we arrived at our hostel we asked what we considered to be the three vital questions. Was there a match on? Where was the stadium? And where could we get some pre-match food! Thankfully there was a game and we got to the stadium early to buy tickets. Luckily for us there was a promotion for first time visitors. We could not believe our ears when the woman at the office smiled politely and asked us each for three pounds…between the three of us…At one pound each we felt almost guilty! We entered the stadium thirty minutes early and the atmosphere was already phenomenal. There was even a fan on a platform, geared with a loudspeaker, to ensure that the singing was constant. Ninety minutes stood up. Ninety minutes singing. Ninety minutes in awe. Despite winning 2-0, it was as is the result was unimportant. There was so much unity…so much involvement…so much intensity. Before I thought it couldn’t get any better, there was one final touch. When the game had finished the home players came over to the fans and sang along with them, something that wouldn’t even happen at the end of year celebrations in England.
Needless to say, my Polish football experience was one that I won’t forget for a long time, if ever. A fantastic start to what is going to be an exciting challenge…
Which team do you support? Do you watch football on TV or at the stadium?