Colombia 1, Qatar 0
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, May 31 2015
“MOOLOO Olé Olé Olé!”
– The Colombian supporters. Well… Something like that anyway.
Hamilton is, in my mind, the atmosphere capital of New Zealand when it comes to rugby – at least when the Waikato provincial team is playing. It’s not just the cow bells that annoy opposition supporters so much but also the singing of the Mooloo song, which is adapted from the football staple ‘Olé, Olé, Olé’. Throw in the Mooloo mascot and even the Mooloo kids, and Waikato Stadium is the one place in New Zealand where I am perfectly happy to watch ‘kick and clap’. My memories of the place are fond, dating back to watching Waikato win the national championship over Otago by 35 points in 1990. I watched that game as a 14 year old on what was then a grass bank at the South end. Since then I have seen Ranfurly Shield and Super 15 victories there, but never before have I seen it like this. The place was absolutely JUMPING!
It may have been only half full, with the official attendance around 10,000 spectators, but that didn’t stop the Colombian fans filling it with noise. We had a cacophony of drums, whistles, the odd vuvuzela type instrument, singing and chanting. We even had a pretty spectacular pitch invasion at the end as a few delirious supporters couldn’t contain themselves when their conquering heroes came over to acknowledge their fans. Not that I condone that kind of thing – [looking stern] Hamilton is a long way to venture to from Colombia only to see one game before getting banned!
But the real stern talking to I need to give dates back to the day before… Anyone who was also in attendance on Saturday at North Harbour for New Zealand’s game against Ukraine surely couldn’t help but hang their heads in shame yesterday.
“Clap clap, clap clap clap, clap clap clap clap – All Whites” – Oh dear. That’s not how you support a proper football team, kiwis! You’re not watching the Blues now… We are going to have to lift our game on Tuesday.
For myself, that was another step up again. I was gushing on Saturday about getting a FIFA World Cup experience, but that really was nothing compared to yesterday – a game that looked and sounded a lot more like what you see on TV when you watch the actual World Cup in places like Germany or even Brazil, albeit obviously on a smaller scale.
I also relished getting to see two Serie A players in the flesh for Colombia – Udinese’s Alexis Zapata and a player by the name of Andres Tello who plays for a tiny little club… The name of it has escaped me for the moment… AGH I hate it with this happens… Jogging my memory… Oh yeah – Juventus.
But what made this extra special for me, given my Waikato upbringing, was just the simple sight of football goals at the hallowed home of Waikato rugby. I can think of a LOT of ‘people’ who I grew up around that I can absolutely guarantee will have been pretty furious at the thought of this ‘sissy game’ taking place at their shrine! This makes me quite happy.
As I was walking over to my seat behind the goal line after taking team photos at the start of this game, a man yelled out “I want your job!” I’d be interested to know from him if he’d still want it if he knew that I’m only doing it for love, but regardless, I’m still feeling pretty bloody lucky to be in this position! As a wise man by the name of John Lennon once said – all you need is love.
Categories: FIFA New Zealand 2015
A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/