Besides a two hour nap, I've been awake for well over 24 hours right now. That's a first- however it was 100% worth it. Last night was one of the best experiences of my life- an English Premier League Game- Sunderland v. Chelsea.
It was a pretty last minute decision to get tickets, but after doing so it couldn't have worked out better. Six of us took a 4:00 pm train to Sunderland yesterday. It took about two hours or so to get there. Upon arriving we had some time to kill, so we wandered around and got dinner at McDonalds. Now I've heard of the passion that people over here have for "football", but it was awesome to see a sea of red and white (Sunderland's colors) everywhere. After getting a Sunderland scarf and finishing dinner, we headed to the Sunderland's stadium, The Stadium of Light.
So I knew that we had pretty good tickets and I knew that we would be right behind the goal, but when we got to our seats I really couldn't believe it was real. We were the first row directly behind the goal, probably about 10 yards from the field. It was incredible. It was the nicest field I've ever seen and to be so close to it was awesome!
The game was equally as awesome. Sunderland was definitely the underdog, but they came out and scored in the first 4 minutes. Sunderland ended up losing the game 4-2 but it was so great to see that many goals! That kind of score doesn't happen very often. The skill of the players was amazing and it was so cool to be seeing guys that I have seen on TV before.
This isn't zoomed in... that's how close we were!
The atmosphere in the stadium was so fun as well. The fans are ruthless, and they aren't ashamed to say anything, run up and down the aisles, and kick things. They also had a bunch of chants which were entertaining.
As if the night couldn't have gotten any better, after leaving the stadium and wandering for awhile we accidentally came across where the players come out after the game. There was a big crowd, but somehow I managed my way to the front. Every few minutes a different player would come out and everyone would go crazy. I got two signatures and a bunch of pictures! Most were with Chelsea players because they were getting on their bus to go home. But, one of the best parts of the night was meeting Sunderland's goal keeper Craig Gordon. One of my friends who went with us has loved Gordon since he was young, so we knew a lot about him going in. He is from Scotland, plays for the Scottish National Team, and is one of the best keepers in the league- oh and his name is Gordon and that name seems to follow me everywhere! So somehow we managed to kind of corner him off, and my friend Kevin got his signature and talked to him for a while which was awesome for him. I proceeded to take off my coat and show him my sweatshirt (Gordon soccer) and said I go to a school named Gordon! I think he got a kick out of that and asked where it was, where we were from, etc. And we also got a picture! He was so so nice, especially after losing the game!
Gordon, Litta and I!
So that was amazing- the game was just perfect. Oh, so I didn't mention that at this point it was about 10:00 and our train wasn't until 7 am. No worries, we made out just fine. We found a small pizza place and had a late night snack, then proceeded to go to several different pubs and clubs, basically until each one closed. Oh, and at one of the pubs they were playing highlights from the game and we were on TV several times! The last pub we were at closed at 4, and we knew McDonald's opened again at 5 so for the hour in between we kind of just roamed around. It was crazy and unreal but fun! We ended up at McDonald's at 5 and sat and played cards/slept until about 6:30. After that we walked back to the train station and made it smoothly back to Edinburgh. I even made it in time for class, even though I was pretty delirious.
That's the story of my 24 hours. It was an incredible experience and now its time to sleep!