Experiencing ‘football’

I’m sorry Canada, I just don’t get it. I tried, I really, really tried, but I could not get Canadian ‘Football’.

Let’s get things straight, football is not played with an oval ball, it’s played with a round ball and it doesn’t matter how often you try to tell me that I’m talking ‘soccer’, it’s not – it’s football. Okay, that’s enough of a rant.

I feel that it’s important to try and integrate with the community that I’m part of and it was with a mixture of interest and trepidation that I set off to watch a CFL game. The BC Lions, one of the best teams in Canada were playing their last regular season game against the Calgary Stampeders. I guess this is the nearest one can get to a local derby, even though there’s some 660 miles between Vancouver and Calgary (it’s like calling Plymouth vs Aberdeen a local derby). This of course means that there’s very little in terms of away support. A handful of intrepid folks had flown for the evening, but it was still pretty one sided in terms of support.

The stadium, BC Place, is actually pretty impressive. It’s seats some 76,000 and is topped by a huge inflatable roof. No exposure to the elements here, all very cosy. The game attracted around 35,000 fans, which is a good number, however as the stadium’s so large it meant that vast areas were empty which kind of dulls the atmosphere. Which brings me on to the terrace chants. Coming from the UK I’m very used to the interaction between home and away fans at footie matches. It’s really gladiatorial sparring with words and it can make a game really come alive. A few seasons ago I can remember ‘always look on the bright side of life’ echoing around the Valley when Charlton went 6-1 down to Leeds in a Premiership game. So, what do the locals offer up? ‘Let’s go Lions’. That’s it I’m afraid. Well, that and a few roars of approval/disapproval for killer passes or poor refereeing decisions. This lack of interaction really dulled what was already a difficult experience for me. Why difficult? Any game where the first 30 minute half takes around 90 minutes really has to look at itself and ask ‘what is the entertainment here’ Okay, I know I’m missing out on the finer points, yes, there were a couple of really killer passes during the game, and there was a close finish, but at the 3 hour point I was quite simply bored to tears. I would probably rather watch cricket, and that’s saying something!

So, CFL, sorry, but my attention span lasts longer than the 5 second plays that follow each 5 minute break. I’d prefer to watch a game that flows, where there are limited stoppages and horror of horrors, there could even be a drawn result.

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