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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Top Ten 10....Away Day Wish List

Me and Alfredo were discussing getting back into the habit of our infamous Away Day jaunts the other day, and it got me thinking "What would be my ideal wish list?" Now I have been pretty lucky. Over the years most of my "Must Do" stadia have been visited. But there are several that have eluded me, and considering the advancing years and lack of funds, a couple will probably have to be visited in another life. So here they are, my El Dorado of Away Day wishes, scored out of ten for the the likelihood that they will be achieved, 0 for never and 10 for I have already got the t shirt ready.

1. La Bombonera- Home of Boca Juniors, this 61,000 capacity stadium in the suburbs of Buenos Aries is world renowned for for the noise and atmosphere generated by it's supporters, especially during the derby game against arch rivals River Plate. When the crowd begin to bounce in unison, the stadium is said to shake to it's foundations. Alas, Argentina is not just around the corner, and expensive to reach. Plus you would want to be going for at least a fortnight, which is a tough sell to the notorious M.R.S. Tickets are also hard to come by, and nigh on impossible for the River Plate game. So unless a EuroMillions win on the lottery is forthcoming, this gets a miserly 1 out of 10 chance of attending.

2.  Wembley- Even though it is in my home land, and a mere two hour something train ride away from my house, I have never been. I have always wanted to make my first visit to the spiritual home of football to watch the Mighty Bantams, which is difficult, considering they have managed to play there all of once, since the original was erected in 1923. That game was in 1996, and for some inexplicable reason, I didn't go. To this day I know not why. There were ample tickets, and I knew plenty of people who went, but for some long forgotten reason, I stayed at home. So if a visit to watch the Bantams looks unlikely, it will probably be the national team, or the Cleveland Browns (if the NFL continue it's annual game) whom I go to see. Considering it is now a 90,000 all seater, there is every chance I will get there. 10/10

3. Westfalenstadion- Home of Borussia Dortmund, this 80,000 capacity monster is regularly voted the best place to watch a game of football in Europe. Similar to Wembley, my hope is to see the mighty Lowen take the field against the home side, which to be frank, is a million times more likely to happen than Bradford City once again gracing the the hallowed turf of Wembley. So when 1860 finally manage to haul themselves back into the top tier of the Bundesliga, I will be there front and centre. Even if I have to take the Elster. 10/10

4. Stadio San Paolo- When the Bender Squad was in it's full glory, we traveled once a year, with out fail, to some of the best known stadiums in Europe. The Nou Camp, Bernabeau, Anfield, Highbury, Amsterdam Arena and the Allianz Arena to name but a few. To this list we aimed to add an Italian adventure, but for some reason it never happened. Kids and less disposable income were the main culprits, although the high cost of boozing in Italy also was a factor. The hope was we go to the San Siro in Milan, and I even began to price up a trip, but since then I have had a slight change of heart. Yes going to Milan or Turin, even Rome is the the obvious choice, but I feel some strange force drawing me towards Napoli. The city itself looks more lively, and the stadium looks a bit livelier as well. Of course the dream is to do all of them, but if I was given one, at this moment in time I would plump for the 51,000 capacity San Paolo. I will probably visit another Italian ground before this one, so it scores a lowly 3/10

5. St Jakob Park- The home of FC Basel, our Swiss branch of the Bender Squad has extended an open invitation to visit. I fancy it big time, although at £8 a pint, I may struggle to find a lot of takers. Of course, I always have the Shoutster to fall back on, and you only live once, so I will make it there in the not to distant future. 10/10

6. Emile Versé Stadium- Home of Anderlecht. I have no dying urge to go to this particular stadium. In fact I only picked it because it's in Brussels, and it's the biggest stadium in town. It could easily be any other, but it's the Belgian capital I fancy celebrating my 50th in, and at that age I will need a couple of hours off the booze. In fact I'll probably snooze through most of the game.... 8/10

7. Estádio da Luz- To be honest I totally forgot about this one, and it should be at number 4, but I can't be arsed re-editing this thread, so at number seven it stays. The Stadium of Light, home of Benfica is 65,000 beast in the city of Lisbon. The original was once the biggest in Europe at a whopping 120,000, but the new one will do just nicely. Now a couple of years back we had great hopes of making the Brazil 2014 World Cup, but those hopes are all but dead, barring a lottery jackpot, or being sexually harassed at work and receiving a huge out of court settlement. So we aren't going. Now they speak Portuguese in Brazil, so a cheaper alternative could be a spring visit to take in a match. I shall make it so... 8/10

8. Estadio Azteca- The worlds largest football specific stadium (fifth overall) is a true beast. It is also one of the planets most iconic. The 1970 world cup final, and Diego's hand of God are just a couple of the famous footballing acts to take part on this stage, but it is the strange shadow that was in the middle of the pitch that sticks in my mind. This would warrant a higher place in my rankings but for one thing. Mexico scares the shit out of me. Psychotic cats chasing super speedy mice are one thing, but the steady stream of Hollywood blockbusters portraying the place as some kind of uber violent wild west town give me the willies. My fears may well be unfounded, but trying to keep tabs on the likes of Shouty and Geezers in this bandit town means it scores a 1/10

9. San Siro- There was a time when this would have been top of the list, and at one point wheels were put in motion to facilitate a trip, but it just kind of petered out. Maybe because of this, my interest waned. The 80,000 seat beast still looks magnificent, but the more I have heard about Milan the city, the less enthusiasm I have for it. I reckon it would be a good stop on a mini tour of northern Italy, but that is about it. Yet it is still the first name that crops up when a European away Day is touted. It for this reason alone that I envision a visit. 7/10

10. New York Baseball- You may well have noticed that up till now all the Away Days have featured Association Football.  Till now.  My second favourite sport in the world is baseball, and there is arguably no bigger baseball town than New York.  Both the Yankees and the Mets play in brand new state of the art stadiums, built near where their old yards used to stand.  Now I confess my preference would be to go see the Bronx Bombers, but there seems to be some dark forces at work, as every time I visit the Big Apple they are out of town.  This leaves the less fashionable Mets, who play out in Queens.  They play in a new stadium that has been built in a retro style, styled on old Ebbetts Field, the demolished home of the long departed Brooklyn Dodgers.  And they just happen to be at home during my next visit to the city that never sleeps... Yankee Stadium 5/10  Citi Park 10/10

 So that's the 10 to do list before I die.  You may have noticed there is no Brazilian venues on my list.  Lets face it, their league teams are pretty dull (bet you can't name more than three teams) and the national team plays most of it's fixtures in London now.  As i explained, the next World Cup is probably four years to early for me.  In 2018 I will be, fingers crossed, mortgage free, and the kids SHOULD be long gone.  And if I was going to go to Brazil, I reckon it would be the beach volleyball that I would head for...  Still, with a bit of luck, I will be updating this list in a couple of years, as I hope to have got around at least four of these places. 

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