With the Euros on and everybody in my office talking about it, I got to thinking. I’ve never been much of a spectator of “normal” sports. I’ve tried them on the tv, my poor dad’s dragged me to them live. I’ve even had a Roy Keane No. 6 t-shirt for that World Cup where he got himself fucking thrown off the team! Too many times I end up disappointed, bored or having my poor dad get dirty looks thrown at him because he won’t shut up his twelve year old and her unending list of questions. (Sorry Dad!) As an adult I have gone to matches with friends and enjoyed the drinks, the face paint and the jovial nature of it all but when we sit down to watch my mind just wanders, usually to food. I never watch the World Cup, I never watch the Six Nations. I’m certainly not going to watch the Euros.
However, last year, while visiting family in Scotland, I was brought to an ice hockey game. I was intrigued. I’ve never watch ice hockey. Closest I came to it really was watching the Mighty Ducks way too late in life. Our hosts were really into it and went most weekends with their friends so Cor and I decided to tag along and see what all the fuss was about.
Well what can I say! Firstly, it’s really cold! I mean the place is half ice so even though you are indoors you have to bundle up in scarves and hats and big wooly coats. I didn’t even have enough to wear, I had to steal some extra layers. I was already a fan! Hiding under a sea of wool is one of my all time favourite things to do. Secondly, the crowd! An unrelenting sea of aggression, cruelty, creativity and wit! It was like being sent back to Roman times where the Colesseum would be packed to the gills with blood thirsty spectators calling for heads to roll. Chanting I’ve never heard before, cursing that would make any decent human being blush and a never ending battle of who could heckle the other team more.
And last but not least, the game. The beautiful, vengeful, fast paced, daring game that captures your excitement, your childish wonder and awe and whips it into the goal before you know where your heads at. Truly one of the fastest games, the hockey pucks are flying so quickly that your eyes are lagging behind, straining to catch up, to catch a glimpse. The players are lightning quick and smooth as silk, that is until they get smashed into the wall by the opposing team (which happens quite a good bit). The players get swapped out every few minutes, but not because they’re soft. It’s because the game is bloody intense. They are moving so fast, while on skates and wearing loads of heavy equipment. It’s basically a weighted sprint with pucks flying at you! I think intense is too light a word…
By the end of the game; my heart was in my throat, my bum was off my seat and my mind was on nowhere else but in those few final minutes. I’d figured out the rules and I was rooting for the home team, cursing and yelling like any good Scot! Everyone and everything was focused on the away team’s goal. Home team were down in points and needed one last goal to win the game. To help, they had subbed their goalie (THEIR GOALIE!) for another striker, leaving the goal unprotected. Yes, they can do that! It’s absurd! And ever so tantalising. Before the buzzer rang out the goal was made bringing our team into the lead and us to victory! Cheers erupted from inside me as if I myself had made the final shot! I was in shock, Cormac was in shock, everybody was dumfounded. I was a living, breathing sports fan!
The gladiators glide around for a final hoorah, before the leave the rink and become mere men once more. I couldn’t believe it was over… It happened so quickly, it ended too soon.
And I can’t wait to go back.