Last Sunday most of the teachers at Aihua went to their first ever Chinese Super League game at the Workers’ Stadium. There was a good 15 strong crowd of us, eagerly hoping we would all get tickets. Before the game I did some research and saw that the stadium has a capacity of 66,000 and Beijing’s average attendance is somewhere in the 43,000 figure. I was quite confident we would get tickets, even if it was a local derby of sorts against Shanghai Shenxin.
Thanks to our fellow teacher Rob and his friend, we all got tickets at a very reasonable price of 60RMB. Most of us, excited by the prospect of the match to come, bought Beijing merchandise to show our support for our local team.
We all went for a pre-game pint in a local bar just around the corner from the Stadium. The beer, it has to be said, wasn’t that nice…but we didn’t care.
On a personal note, it was a very strange experience to be able to bring my drink not only into the stadium but also to my seat. I have been to live games in Italy, Germany, Spain & England and this is always a major no go!
Anyway, on to the match! In the first half, Shanghai was by far the better side, dominating Beijing and rightfully being two goals up by half time. Beijing had offered little and couldn’t keep possession of the ball. It was fair to say we were all underwhelmed with our first time to the Workers’ Stadium. Out for a half time pint we went.
We actually missed about ten minutes or so of the second half by the time we had gotten our drinks and made it back into the stadium. Thankfully, we were all sitting together as the stadium looked half full. We were positioned behind one of the goals in the curva.
Beijing had started brightly and then came the game changer, their ace in the hole, the man who would change the entire complexity of the game. One Frederic Kanoute.
It was my surprise to learn that Kanoute had ended up in China, having been a star with Sevilla in their best years under Juande Ramos, winning two consecutive UEFA Cups. Here he was! He clearly wasn’t 100% fit as he would have no doubt started the game if he had been.
His presence seemed to lift the side, the crowd could sense it and shortly after his arrival, Beijing won a penalty which Kanoute himself scored to make it 1-2. The wind was now in the home team’s sails, and the equalizer came shortly after. It was now 2-2!
Both of Beijing’s goals happened at our end of the pitch, so all of the Aihua teachers went absolutely nuts for the second goal. I threw my beer into the air in celebration!
Beijing then pressed on, in the hope of a third goal. Once again, Kanoute was involved, laying the ball exquisitely for Guerron who hit the ball on the volley from about ten yards out, and skimmed it off the crossbar. It was fair to say that if the strike had gone in, we would have ended up 6 rows down from where we were sitting!
The match ended 2-2, unfortunately. The home side couldn’t find the eventual winner, but it was a superb second half performance. We owed it all down to one man… Freddy! Freddy! Freddy! We chanted his name whilst leaving the stadium.
After the game we went to a restaurant called “Tube Station”, which served undoubtedly the biggest pizzas I have ever seen in my entire life! And everyone scoffed them down without thinking twice about it!
It was a cracking night from start to finish. Beer, Football, and Pizza. How can you top a night like that? We are all planning to get down to another game soon!