I was invited along to a soccer match today, and we threw our weight behind Gor Mahia, described as "the Liverpool" of the Kenyan Premier League. We dressed in whatever green we had and made our way to City Stadium - not the usual home venue for the Gor, but apparently they'd been kicked out of the nicer stadium because the fans got a bit rowdy last time and started throwing rocks. We were assured that this week would be better, because it was highly unlikely that any of the Thika United supporters would be in the crowd.
For some reason, we'd been advised to arrive around 12:30...2.5 hours before kick off, which was absolutely unnecessary, save for the fact that the friend of our colleague who had the tickets was running very late. So we made some new friends in the meantime...
"The General," "The weird one with the horrifying baby doll that will give us nightmares," my colleagues E and C, and "The GORilla." We'd been told by the colleague that invited us that The General is at every single game, always dressed to the nines. From a distance, I thought he was an older gentleman, and up close, it was difficult to determine how old he was. E asked him when he first started going to Gor Mahia matches...he said 1968, and it took us a second to realise that he meant that was when the club started. Turns out he'd been going to games since 2005 - that was a bit disappointing really!
From our vantage point in the VIP zone (tickets for which cost 400 shillings - $4, rather than 100 shillings - $1) we'd noticed some of the spectators climbing up the towers for a good view.
And perhaps 15 minutes into the match, play was suspended as it was demanded that they all climbed down. So that was the first delay.
There were a few injuries, and the ever safety conscious Kenya Premier League made sure to run on stretchers to take the injured players off the pitch. Both times this happened the player immediately stood up without assistance once reaching the sidelines, and walked off.
Another sterling delay to play was one of the goalkeeperss stripping off mid-play to get a bit of a back rub and stretch. I'm not sure if he was kind of injured or just having a laugh, but he got a yellow card for it, which reinforced to me (as someone who really hasn't watched soccer in many years) that this wasn't the norm.
It must have been about half way through the second half, still 0-0 when the vuvuzela salesman was pointed out to me. I'd said that I wanted one, and buy one I did. We'd already purchased some Gor Mahia t-shirts, but now I felt like a true fan.
It's not as easy as it looks, and it really hurts the outside of your lips, but I managed to make some pretty decent buzzing noises.
We won the match 1-0, the crowd went wild and all was well. While I did promise my housemates that I wouldn't use the vuvuzela as an alarm clock for them, it's going to be mighty tempting tomorrow morning, knowing that I'm usually up a few minutes before them...