Baby, they don’t need to show, flowers and football tops, I know

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I miss going to the football. There are plenty of things that I miss while I am here but the football is nothing that I can’t find an equivalent of, there is no Celtic Park here, there aren’t the same people that I see at every match, there isn’t that excitement you get as you walk up to the ground.

The next best thing? – Olympique Lyonais

To be honest it hadn’t really crossed my mind to go and see Lyon play in the Europa League, I presumed that it would be expensive and difficult to get tickets so never really bothered to look into it any more.
Then as I walked into university today I was given a leaflet to go and buy tickets at an unbelievably low price….hmm, maybe this is doable.

So after my lecture (and after going to replace my travelcard which I managed to lose on the morning commutee, well done me :l ) I headed to FNAC, the French hybrid bookstore/DVD shop/ technology seller and ticket office to purchase my ticket for the match that evening against Vitoria – spontaneity to the extreme!

After a quick lunch with 3 French girls (who spoke incredibly incredibly ridiculously fast, there goes my chance of understanding ANY French today!) I headed out to Stade de Gerland.
I’d been down to the area where the stadium is before and was fairly confident I knew where I was going. The only catch was that I hadn’t been there on match-day when it was teeming with people!
This definitely made things a little more difficult.
I walked one way round the stadium, then the other. Nope, time to ask for directions! (thankfully the steward didn’t speak horrendously fast and I understood the directions).
Or at least I thought I did as I now seemed to be walking in the same direction as all the Portuguese fans….

I have to say that the whole stadium experience is very very different to that at home. The stadium itself looked significantly older to what I am used to, the “turnstiles” were temporary and just stuck on any entrance to the stadium and furthermore everybody had a full pat-down before heading up to your seats…slightly odd.
It was also quite clear that the stadium was formerly standing room/terrace only as now the stands are made up of concrete blocks with plastic buckets for seats: a new one for me.
The strangest thing for me – alcohol is allowed in the ground! 😮
Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Celtic Park anymore.

As I took my seat it became pretty clear that my ticket, though in a fantastic spot in the stadium in the upper tier behind the goal, was also located in the overflow section for the away fans…. Time to use my best Portuguese!
Everything was going fine, the football was….fine, really nothing special.
And then Vittoria scored.
All Hell broke loose.

I’m used to sports grounds. I’m used to sports grounds with highly charged atmospheres.
This was the first time I genuinely wondered if it was worth it and whether I should just cut my losses and leave.

The Lyon fans and the Vitoria fans were clashing in a big way. Until the match I wasn’t aware France had so many varieties of police officers, all of which I am now pretty sure I’ve seen.
The police at a match I was cool with, it’s fairly reassuring to tell the truth. Armoured police in the ground? Yeah that’s a new one on me.

Once Lyon equalised and were pushing for a second the atmosphere in the ground became much less tense (thankfully) and it turned into a fairly nice experience.
The match was pivotal in OL’s European campaign this season however it finished 1-1 and to be honest nothing that I saw suggested that Lyon should be progressing in the competition sadly.

I’m hoping that something changes for them soon as I would love to give Stade de Gerland another go but maybe might not opt to go it alone next time, have to say there weren’t an awful lot of females on their own at the ground this evening….!

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