Celtic F.C. Fans Singing at Landsdowne Pub before friendly with Sporting. (SawxBlog Video)
The plan was to meet up with my fiancé at the Landsdowne Pub before the game, I ended up arriving a little before her and the vibe surrounding the pub was shocking. I felt as if I had crossed through some strange vortex and was suddenly across the pond and standing in an Irish Pub. I was surrounded by more green than a Boston Celtic playoff game, and each smiling face had a pint in their hand, and a song on the tip of their tongue. These were good people, my type of people, people I wanted to get to know better. The entire bar was as festive and good natured as you could hope for - and suddenly, without any precognitive thought or intention, I found myself profusely dedicating my undying loyalty to Celtic F.C.
This is when it hit me - as I ordered another IPA it was as if a Looney Toon light bulb popped on over my head. "I get it!" I thought, "Now I really get it." Amid the din of the Football chants, raised arms, raised pints, raised spirits, and the beautifully dim lights of the Pub - I finally understood why the overwhelming popularity of the sport we Americans call Soccer is as big as it is. Sure it may be due in part to its accessibility, the materials and people needed to play soccer are minimal at the most - but in the end the actual sport has nothing to do with it, it's the people - the people are the reason for the sport being more religion than entertainment.
It's human nature to want to belong to something that's bigger than ones self. That's why people go to church. Shoot - last night I drank my share of "wine", and there also was a lot of singing in unison, which are all things you'd find yourself doing on the Sabbath. Seeing these soccer hooligans arm-in-arm, swaying to song, and watching their pint tip with them just enough so that it spills over the edge to baptize the floor - made me insanely jealous that I wasn't in on the party. And it also made me realize how tame, lame, and boring Americans are when it comes to rooting for their teams.
Boston sports fans are universally known as some of the best in America, the only other cities that I think can match our intensity, loyalty, and knowledge are New York and Philly (with maybe Chicago thrown in there too). But what I saw in the Pub last night has never been matched in the decade I've lived in this great city. The only time it touched that level of brotherhood was in the holy year of 2004, but it hasn't come close since. Maybe I'm just hungover in the haze of Celtic F.C. Fever - but I swear to whatever you call God, that the people in the Landsdowne Pub last night had more passion for a friendly exhibition game, than a lot of "Red Sox fans" I've been surrounded by have had before a playoff game - and those were games that actually "meant" something.
The game, for all intents and purposes, was pretty boring, but that's not why the Park was filled. Sure people were there to hopefully see a good match - but more importantly, they were there to worship their chosen religion together, they were there to be part of a brotherhood, they were there to be part of something bigger than themselves, and for one night - I was thankful to be part of it with them.