Ahead of my trip to England, I knew that there was one thing I had to knock off my bucket list: taking in a proper English football match, or soccer as it’s known at the United States. Based on the area I was staying in and the schedules, there were only two options: Crystal Palace or Fulham. To be frank, I had never heard of Crystal Palace, and was a bit surprised to see that Fulham had been relegated from the top league. Regardless, I was okay with either game, depending on availability of tickets.
My uncle was able to secure tickets to the Crystal Palace game, so we met up about an hour before the game and set out for the match. It turned out we were quite close, as from South London the crystal palace stadium was just 4 stations away. Once we arrived, I quickly realized the culture of an English football game. The streets, literally neighborhood streets, were full of fans making their way to the stadium. I’m sure the residents are probably used to this by now after dealing with it for so many years.
Once we arrived to the stadium, it was made obvious that Crystal Palace is the pride of South London sports, with such wording in full display everywhere. The other thing I noticed is that the stadium pub was full; it’s evidently a tradition to drink some beer before the game, as beverages are not allowed to be taken to the seats.
The opposing team was from Ipswich, a town on the east coast of England. Nonetheless, there was a large contingent of fans that made a trip on a Tuesday night; these were hardcore fans.
The atmosphere at the game was relatively tame, besides a few vulgar chants from the Ipswich fans. Their fans were definitely more enthusiastic, but that is to be expected for people that travel 4 hours to attend a weeknight game. At halftime, the fans stormed back to the pub for some more beer. The game itself was a defensive affair until the last 10 minutes, when rain began out of nowhere. Of course, this is England so this is no surprise.
The rain caused activity in the game, as Crystal Palace scored 2 goals and Ipswich 1 to give a final score of 2-1. After the game, it was a quick run to the train station to catch a train back to South London.
In all, this was a wonderful experience, as I had only seen Major League Soccer games before this, which are not at the quality of the Premier League. If I go back I would try to catch another game if it’s possible with scheduling, the experience is fascinating on top of the game itself.