AJAX – PANATHINAIKOS

AJAX – PANATHINAIKOS (2:0)

STADIUM: AMSTERDAM ARENA

Thursday 24th November 2016

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This was to be my second visit to the Amsterdam Arena and was the first outing of my 5 game trip. The plan was Amsterdam-Maastricht-Lokeren-Liege-Emmen. An unusual route I am sure you would agree.

Beers in the centre of Amsterdam and a meet up with 2 friends was the order of the afternoon followed by a stroll around the red light district, I always like to see the sights of a city when I visit!

Panathinaikos were in town and we went searching for their fans who we heard had gathered in Dam Square but upon reaching the square it turned out they had just left leaving a trail of bottles, cans and McDonalds food wrapping behind.

The metro to the stadium was painless…alighting at Strandvliet where we were welcomed by the sight of the stadium lighting up the night sky. It’s an impressive sight, like a spaceship that’s just landed from another planet.

After some food we scurried inside past security and up the steps. We were in with the F-Side boys, the Ultras, the original hardcore whatever you want to call them. Vak 410 group had moved sections and were now located behind the goal in front of where we stood. There does not seem to be any rules in the F-Side, as I had witnessed on my previous visit, fans were freely fighting amongst themselves amidst plumes of marijuana smoke and with self-policing in force, who was I to argue?

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Despite their behaviour they are a rambunctious and jovial bunch so much so that when the teams entered the field a massive plume of smoke (not marijuana!) exploded in front of me and coincided with a massive TIFO unravelling itself over our heads. The red smoke was everywhere unable to escape we covered our mouths with our jackets. I could see flashes of a flare flickering somewhere but apart from that it was all red smoke. The chanting, which had already began, got louder AJAX AMSTERDAM OLE OLE, OLEEEEE AJAX AMSTERDAM, AJAX AMSTERDAM OLE OLE.

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After 5 minutes, the TIFO rolled it’s way back to the front of the seated section meaning we could breath fresh air again. The smell had punctured our lungs and the fibres of our clothes had been doused with the stench. The smoke slowly evaporated into the seating area above us. Time to breath? No chance! More smoke canister’s erupted in front us located along the length of the end behind the goal. Huge plumes of red, white and black smoke rather aggressively forced it’s way skywards. The chanting continued to get louder while the three colours blended together into a stunning display. When this cleared we found that the game had already started and were treated to a one way game. One way in the sense that all the possession was with Ajax. They were knocking it about freely and comfortably.

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On my last visit the huge monolithic spaceship was only half full and was void of any real decent atmosphere which was a little bit of a let down. This time was different as a good crowd had assembled with about 80% of the seats filled. It has a good atmosphere when full but which game you choose will depend largely on what atmosphere you get.

Ajax strolled to a 2-0 victory. Panathinaikos rarely ventured forward and made it such a one sided affair, however I was satisfied with what I had seen and the atmosphere that was generated. I made my way back to my hotel for a good nights sleep as the following morning i was making my way by train to Maastricht. You need your strength when going there as you are always guaranteed a party win, lose or draw.

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