Manchester United v FC Barcelona : The Roadtrip
28 July 2011 – 31 July 2011
The big day. I managed to get a decent night’s sleep and woke up relatively early. I made it to the Museum of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery after having coffee with some culés. Our tour guide, Kim, was hilarious. He was so passionate about his subjects that it made the hour tour fly by. I hung back and explored the rest of the museum until it was time to meet some friends for lunch. Unfortunately, I’m a crap planner and everything kind of fell apart. I wish some people would have told me that they were driving into Washington dc and I would have chosen something a little more central. Driving in DC is like driving in the city. You just don’t do it unless you have to. After everything had decidedly fallen apart, we split up and made our separate ways to the stadium. It was decidedly a fairly mild trip until we sorted out our cars. We, whether intentionally or not, ended up mostly segregating ourselves. My car was entirely Red save for two or three Barça fans [children not included, though they would still bring the count to less than ten]. If anyone remembers the scenes on the train in Moscow after the 2008 Champions League final, you would think that perhaps we were having a bit of déjà vu here. There were songs and chants and rousing renditions of Glory Glory Man United to which the Culés took it upon themselves to counter with El Cant de Barça and forgot the words [to their own club’s hymn] three lines in and gave up. Awkward silence. Crickets. The Reds kept singing. It was all rather glorious.
After walking the eleven thousand miles from the train to the stadium and then another eleven thousand miles from the stadium to the furthest opposite corner of the car park, there…between lots D30 and D40…our little silver saviour with #MUFCinDC written in shoe black on the back window. With the tweet up secured and the street football already in full swing, we got in and got socializing. I don’t remember who said it, maybe Craig, but it’s true….we all follow each other on twitter and are all friends on facebook and what have you and you think you know people and then you finally meet them in person. “Oh! How’s the cat? How did little Johnny do in his big game?” It’s strange to know so much about people whom you’ve not met and how close you can feel to them and then when you do finally meet, it’s like you’ve never been apart. It sounds strange, but it works. I can honestly say that I think that I’ve made some tried and true friends here, including Brett who is apparently from the next town over from where I live. Twitter simultaneously makes the world a larger and smaller place if that’s even possible.
There are so many things that I can say about the match, but I won’t. We’ve all read the commentary and we’ve all watched the match itself. I’ll make a few notes, though, in numerated form again.
1. if you wear a Liverpool shirt to a United match, friendly or not, don’t think I’m not going to call you a Scousey bastard. I shouted “Oi! You scousey bastard! Wot you doin’ ‘here? Oughtn’t you be back at Anfield?”
2. No, Messi isn’t here. Shut up about it.
3. Don’t say you lost because Messi didn’t play. One player does not a team make. You started six (SIX!!) players from your starting XI from the side that won the Champions League last year; on the contrary, we started three.
4. Don’t throw a strop because you’ve come all the way from Virginia to see your favourite player play and he’s on the bench. That’s the nature of the sport. Players pick up knocks. The club is bigger than one player [*]
5. Don’t tell me to pipe down. This is a professional sporting event. You are seated next to an opposition supporter. No, I will not pipe down. [^]
6. I love you, Michael Owen. What a beautiful finish.
[*] – There was a girl next to me who couldn’t have been more than 14 or 15 who was a total Piqué fangirl of the OMG HE’S SO FIT variety. Sweetie, you know fuck all about football. if a player goes down, that is not automatically a foul. If on of my players gets too close to one of your players, that is not automatically a red card. Her poor mother was sat next to me. I am not going to sit here and explain the rules of the match to you. If you can’t come up with anything more interesting than shouting “you suck” at the field, then you need to leave my section.
[^] – There was a dad and his son sat in front of me, barça fans, naturally. Nani got the first goal in and of course, I cheered. In the second half, Thiago had a brilliant strike for the equalizer. Turning around and yelling “HAHAHAHA YOU LOSE” is really going to teach your son about proper sportsmanly behaviour. Well done, sir. Telling me to pipe down for hurling insults at Sergio Busqets is only going to make me shout louder and with more intensity. You don’t dive in a friendly, especially not in the first five minutes and you DON’T take out one of the twins. If this were a regulation match, Vidić would have eaten you alive à la Drogba in the 2008 Champions League final.
That all being said, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves: