Sunday, 29 July 2012

Olympic Football at Hampden Park, Glasgow - Honduras v Morocco and Spain v Japan

On Thursday, we attended two games at Hampden as part of the London 2012 Olympics. I'll admit that I was a little sceptical that the stadium would be even close to a third full but was pleasantly surprised at the healthy attendance of 37,000. In fact, the whole day was excellent, both games were entertaining and the only slight disappointment was that the hyped up 'World and European Champions' Spain, didn't turn up. Hampden is to be the closest stadium to where I stay and up until a couple of months ago, also the closest for Chris, Chris now lives in Edinburgh so he made the short journey through to Glasgow for the day. There was free transport from Glasgow city centre to Hampden which Chris took advantage of, whilst I made the 25 minute stroll over the hill to Scotland's national stadium.

The first match of the day was between Honduras and Morocco and it was a proverbial game of two halves. A cagey start led to Morocco playing some really good football and taking a deserved lead through Getafe's Abdelaziz Barrada. Honduras came out in the second half and made a contest of it with Wigan's Maynor Figueroa becoming a danger down the left hand side. Two goals from Jerry Bengston put Honduras ahead only for Moroccan wonderkid Zakaria Labyad to level the scores with a lucky chip just minutes later. Morocco finished the game with 10 men so already we can count in the Preston Pigeon stats that we have a 100% red card record with games we have gone to.

The second match was probably the main draw for much of the neutral spectators, in fact, rephrase that. Spain were the main draw for the bulk of 37,000 strong crowd and Japan could have forgiven themselves for assuming it was a foregone conclusion that they would end the day in Group D on 'nil points'. As it turned out, the Japanese fans and team put in a herculean 90 minutes with more effort than I have ever seen a team put in. A strong Japanese contingent were present in the stadium and they created a fantastic atmosphere even encouraging section of fans around them into singing and clapping along with their songs. The unusual sight, however, was to see the killjoy stewards trying to stop the Japanese fans from having fun. The thing is, they had lots to sing and cheer about as the Japan team constantly harassed and pressed the Spanish backline and could have ended up with much more than just a 1-0 win. They took the lead after poor Spanish defending let Yuki Otsu stab in from close range and just minutes later Spain's Inigo Martinez was sent off for a last man challenge on Nagai. So that's two red cards in two games for the Preston Pigeon.

The facts...

Tickets - £30 (for two matches)
Travel (for 1 from Edinburgh) - £12.10
Attendance - 37,000
Cost of Pie - £3.70

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