• Show me the way to go home

    There’s no feeling like going home. Tomorrow night sees the return of international football to Lansdowne 2.0 as Ireland take on Argentina, sadly no longer led by Maradona. It may only be a friendly but I can’t wait to get back. Last week’s game was nothing more than a fundraising charade and whilst we will only see real intensity come the qualifiers, it will be a nice warm up game.

    Croker was grand, but watching football on a gaelic pitch doesn’t work. It is like seeing a mini game for kids on a full sized pitch. Seats on the hill and gaps on the hill doesn’t really create an intimidating atmosphere. Sure we have had some decent nights there, but most would admit that the atmosphere only really got going for the last ten against Italy and at the start of the French match. It crackled and fizzed at other times but nearly truly caught alight.

    The rugby lads have the game against England, and the subsequent demolition of the Old Enemy to look back on. Throw in the likes of the games between Munster and Leinster and there are more than a few fond memories, as the side experienced a golden era being played out on the Northside.

    As a football fan, the picture is a bit more mixed. Sure, we had Brazil, Germany, Italy and France in the ground but only the last two meant anything. We had the forgettable Staunton era which started brightly in Stuttgart and then fell into rancour amongst recrimination on and off the pitch. The appointment of Trap brought excitement back, but expectation was low. As the campaign progressed the attitude gradually changed and just as the new stadium began to show it’s shiny new face to the world, so the team began to inspire the support again.

    The vastness of Croker appeared to swallow people up and whilst the new singing section tried to bring noise back to the games, most of the stadium were still only raised from their slumber for small interludes. The Polish game saw the migrant working population take over the Northside and there great noise that night. Pity it was for the away side.

    Lansdowne 2.0 won’t be perfect either, as the 10,000 premium ticket holders will be hard to raise into a frenzy, but the challenge is there. Tomorrow night will no doubt be an occasion, as people pose for photos and get their first look around the new surroundings. No doubt there will be plenty of substitutions during the game and it is still a friendly, but it is still a special friendly.

    Lansdowne rightly had a reputation and the infrastructure is irrelevant to that. Ergonomic seats and plentiful toilet facilities do not make a stadium, the fans do. However we all know that when you get home, it feels as if you have never been away.
    This article was originally published in blog: Show me the way to go home started by MariborKev
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