Last night we went to PPL Park to see a football match. Child 3 was pretty disappointed. The ball was the wrong shape and no one was wearing helmets. Well, that’s just one of the tough things about being the child of immigrants I guess. We manage to call it soccer in public, but at home, football will always be football, no matter where we live.
Except of course it’s different over here. Going to a match is a different experience in many ways, but I’m only going to focus on three right now: offsides, beer and vanishing spray. Let’s start with offsides.
Offsides, do you know how ridiculous that sounds? I am not generally one for criticising American English. I’m definitely in the celebrating the differences camp as a rule. But I draw a line (ho ho) with offsides. That is just wrong. A player cannot be offsides. He is either onside or offside. Where is this other side they are referring to? This is the worst example of unnecessary plurality I know. It could only be worse if it was written down with an apostrophe: offside’s. That’s a travesty. But with Child 1 and Child 2 both playing travel soccer, cries of offsides ring in our ears far more often than we want them to. Add to that Mr T.’s personal conviction that no one over here even really understands the rule anyway and our teeth-clenching reaction to the cry of offsides may be fully imagined!
On the upside of football in the US, however, drinking is allowed inside the stadium. Quite unimaginable in the UK. And I’m not talking about hooliganism here. I’m talking facilities. Last night at Philly Union after two lovely beers I was in the perfect position to appreciate the generous toilet facilities available. Lots of stalls. With toilet paper. A far cry from Tyncastle, Anfield or Selhurst Park, the three stadium I’ve been to most (in my yoof, of course).
But the most remarkable thing I found out about last night has to be vanishing spray. Hilarious! There we were, watching the match, soaking up the tepid atmosphere, ignoring the rain and the cries of “I’m hun-garee” from Children 1&3 (Child 2 was too busy strangling his friends with the free scarf (free scarf?!?) they gave us when we arrived to ask for food) when a free kick was given. The referee took ten paces, whipped a can of vanishing spray from his pocket and painted a temporary line on the pitch. Amazing. Apparently they use it in South America. Watch out Europe. Vanishing spray is surely on its way…