Last night I went to the old football stadium in my hometown. The place where I had the first football memories attending a match with dad, sometimes even with the whole family.
I keep the oldest memories fresh by recalling them now and then. Sitting in a ruana somewhere in the south curve on a wednesday night. Singing the anthems on a sunday afternoon and having my cap pulled out by some stranger who taught me that the custom is to get it off. Watching thrilling games on a downpour. Hearing the chants and the deafening roar from thousands, some of them jumping and making the whole place rumble and bounce.
This time the entrance was not through some narrow gates with lanes that fitted more those on cattle facilities; here the tickets are validated in electronic gates and the line runs along a rather moderate ramp that leads directly to the vomotorium and the gates to the seats. The people can drink beer (cheap beer) and the food is more elaborated. Also, there's no programme printed in some thin newspaper (something I miss; it had the current table and fixture for the matchday alongside some team news) and the speakers all over the place sound notably better.
The tickets are way more expensive than before and it can be noted in the people who can afford them. The show itself lack some dynamism, that old spark that perhaps laid in the eye of the beholder; the players look quite slow and less dauntless than before.
I listened to the radio as I always had while attending a match. This time the commentors were less accurate, they had a rather poor knowledge of what was happening in the match compared to those I used to listen. The approximate distance to goal when a free kick was given was often wrong (they should know at least the length of the pitch!), the strategies were vaguely talked of, the whole development was not described as before and that speaks volumes about the graphic nature of the sport nowadays (so the radio doesn't even bother about telling things happening, they just describe basic stuff).
I got really wet because of the heavy rain but I had no complains as I just expected it to be that way: Half the magic of a football night relies on the environment. The breath of people gathering inside and floating up as the emotions rise in some sort of ebb and flow. And here in my hometown, it means a night of football with a slick pitch and a steady cold athmosphere.
It was nice to go back to where it all started for me. My first house of football.