To kick off our semester abroad, Taryn Rostovsky shares her experience of attending a long-awaited football match in London.
If there is one thing I have never been good at, it’s sports. I grew up as a dancer, but dancing is different from running, dribbling, shooting, or scoring.
As a non-athletic person, I also struggled with staying interested in watching sports games. My brother and father are huge basketball fans and have dragged me to numerous L.A. Lakers games, but in all honesty, my favorite part was the nachos and hotdogs.
I even lose interest in annual championship games. How many Super Bowl games have I watched? None. How many Super Bowl halftime shows have I watched? All. Clearly, I didn’t care about sports games.
My attention to sports games changed slightly when I came to college and found myself immersed in an international friend-group that called soccer ‘football.’ My closest friends were football fanatics and constantly talked about upcoming matches, newly released jerseys, and injured players.
I was invested. I had memorized all the Manchester United players and could even match a jersey number to a player’s name. I would wake up at 7 a.m. on the weekends to watch games, and I found myself in a better mood when the team won. One time when I was home in Los Angeles, I ran into the players at a hotel, and I proudly took photographs of each and every one of them. My feelings toward sports took a 180-degree turn.
So, when I decided to study abroad in the UK, I knew I had to go to a football match. Within my first week in London, I bought tickets to the Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspurs game. This match was supposed to be one of the best of the season. I was so excited. It was going to be, from what I was told, “a huge game.”
Fast forward one week. It’s Game Day. I spent all afternoon after class looking for Manchester United gear to wear to the game, but I couldn’t find anything that would keep me warm enough in London’s chilly winter air. I took the Tube to the stadium, surrounded by United and Spurs fans, both singing their respective chants.
Excitement was in the air. There were people everywhere. It felt like the most crowded event I had ever attended. I was a small fish in a big pond. I walked toward Wembley Stadium jittery, not knowing what to expect. I entered the metal gates, scanned my ticket, and found my way toward my seated section.
I was in shock. The last-minute seats I had scored (no pun intended) were in the first section, 19 rows from the field. I was keener than ever, ready to chant every song I had memorized six hours before. With a great view and a beautiful night, nothing could go wrong–until I turned around and noticed that I was sitting on the wrong side of the field.
My last-minute tickets bought me three seats in Tottenham’s home area. I was enclosed by the Hotspurs’ most intense fans.
Why is that a problem? Well, the ‘football’ culture in the UK is slightly extreme. Sitting in the Spurs section meant that no one could know that I was a Manchester United fan. I could not chant any United chants, and I definitely could not scream if Man U scored.
In hindsight, I was lucky I didn’t wear any Manchester United gear. The goal (no pun intended, again) of my night, after the unexpected turns, was to stay as low-key as possible and watch the game in silence.
The night only became more devastating when the Tottenham Spurs won 2 to 0. It might possibly have been United’s worst game ever. Just when I thought nothing else could go wrong, my bad luck struck.
In all seriousness, I don’t regret a thing. The vibe of being at a Premier League football game in the UK is one I will never forget. There is so much spirit in the atmosphere, so much passion from the players, and so much support from the fans. It’s an experience everyone studying abroad should have.
I will certainly go to another game, but this time, I’ll make sure to sit in Manchester United’s section!
Taryn Rostovsky, Staff Writer
Taryn Rostovsky is third-year student at Boston University, pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design and double minoring in communications and dance. She is currently studying and interning abroad in London, and is traveling and blogging around Europe. Eventually, Taryn hopes to fuse her appreciation for design and advertising to further a career in the field.