VELEZ SARSFIELD – ARGENTINOS JUNIORS (1:0)
STADIUM: JOSE AMALFITANI STADIUM
Friday 22nd April 2016
The art deco illuminated lettering greeted me as I turned the corner to the Stadium It read VELEZ SARSFIELD, the blue and white neon confirmed to me at least I knew I had not taken a wrong turn.
Travelling from San Martin was relatively easy and painless. Train to the Metro then Metro to Metro and a 5 minute walk…simples.
Thanks to a large concrete floodlight the ticket window was easily found and so was a ticket. In my broken Spanish and hand gestures I deduced from the ticket seller that my entrance (entrada) was “around the corner”. When turning the corner, I was greeted with a more impressive facade than the neon sign, the exterior of the stadium lit up in bright blue and white adorning the night sky. One of the benefits of an evening game I thought.
The entrance was quick following a brief search by the local police and an eyeing down from the watching officers. I did not look like a local and therefore stood out from the crowd. A short climb up the steps gave me the first glimpse of green.
It was simple an old school open terracing at both ends behind the goal with seats elsewhere. The Barra Brava already making a racket to my left with standing, singing and banging away on their instruments. It was to continue for the full 90 minutes, an audible assault of noise.
From my research the previous evening I found out that this match the stadium was indeed 60 years old so I had hoped for some kind of celebration, maybe some fireworks or dancing girls. In fact the only mention was in an 8 page newspaper style programme that was given out at the match.
Whilst I was in my shirt sleeves at 9pm local time, on the pitch it was not too hot, in fact at times quite boring football to watch. Both teams had their fair share of possession but neither wanted to test the opposing keepers. The only highlight being the consistent drawl of the band which kept the crowd awake and at times would get louder sparked unexpectedly by a throw in or maybe a rare foray forward into the 18 yard box.
One minute left of normal time and GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLL. Finally the white shrits of Velez were celebrating and so were the crowd. The stadium was less than half full but the roar and the noise of the band, who sang louder than before was deafening. At least it sent everyone home happy except the 50 or so Argentinos fans who had began to slowly make their way home. Security being the main factor why away fans don’t travel across the city. Tired and slightly weary from my double today I decided an early night was on the cards as by the time I got back to my hotel it was almost midnight.