It’s a well known fact, to those who know me, that I’m a football fan. For as long as I can rememberI have followed, and mostly suffered, the fortunes of my favourite football team, Tottenham Hotspur, and my country, England. When I lived in England I often went to matches to cheer the Spurs on.
Here in Réunion, to assauge my footy fix I regularly go to matches here. The teams that play in the D1P, Réunion’s highest level league, attract about 500 fans. It’s not many in comparison with crowds at the top games in England, but there are compensations.
A nice balmy evening in a small but well appointed stadium with coconut trees swaying and the Indian Ocean in the background is a complete change from the White Hart Lane stadium at the end of bustling Tottenham High Road.
Then there are the fans themselves. A cross section of not just men but often entire families with mothers fathers and children watching their local teams. The public courtesy, one of Réunion’s great strengths, is also evident. I am often invited to shake hands with a fellow supporter, someone I’ve never met, but who wanting to reach his seat doesn’t push or shove, but with a kind « good evening » passes me before sitting down.
The price of a game is very affordable. The entry ticket is 7€, a Dodo 2€ and a chicken and mustard baguette sandwich 3€. All in 12€. Prices for football today in England make me shudder with no change from 100€ for a seat, programme, and a soggy hot dog.
The football itself is amateur. Honest competitive and direct. Last week’s match between the Marsouins of St Leu and current league leaders Excelsior of St Joseph was no exception. It soon became evident just why Marsouins are near the foot of the table and Excelsior are at the top. After 20 minutes of competitive play Marsouins were undone by two goals scored in quick succession just before half time. Much of the second half saw the Marsouins’ centre forward show his love of astronomy by repeatedly trying to place a football on the moon! That said, i’ve known a few Tottenham Hotspur centre forwards with the same passion for outer space!
Saving face Marsouins did score a consolation goal just before the end with the aforementioned centre forward remembering Newton’s Law of Gravity and actually suceeding in keeping the ball down whilst scoring.
So, another pleasant evening with no one minding too much about the result, everyone making their way back to their cars and on home, and not one police officer in sight.
To follow – suivre
To suffer – subir
The Spurs – Les Eperons (diminuitive d’Hotspur – L’Eperon chaud)
To push and shove – se bousculer, raler, pousser
Bustling – animé
Affordable – abordable
All in – tout compris
Soggy – mou, trempé
Undone – dé fait
Making their way back – reprendre le chemin de retour