Sunday, April 02, 2006

Seven beers, a football match and some chickens

Ok, as some of you know, I've been trying to go dry. This hasn't been working out so well in Mexico. There is an expectation that I will have a drink. Or two. Or seven.

Last night I went to my first ever football match. Los Tigres of Monterrey were playing Los Tecos of Guadalajara. The tigers versus the owls. My company for the evening was Jose-Luis, one of the brothers who run the firm I am visiting in Monterrey, his nephew Mario, and two of Mario's friends. Jose Luis drives a Dodge RAM, the biggest ute/SUV/truck I've been in. Jose-Luis speaks very good English but doesn't understand a word when it is spoken back.

So we go to the stadium. Jose-Luis and his brothers are responsible for the turf here. It is good looking grass. As we climb the stairs to our seats, he introduces me to one of two people who will conspire to get me drunk. I shake hands with Andreas, our 'bartender'. Andreas is lightning quick when opening multiple bottles of Carta Blanca, one of the sponsors of the evening. Before long there is a significant pile of CB bottle tops adorning the stairs at his feet.

The Bartender

The stadium is a sea of blue and gold. 40,000 people have come to cheer on the local side, while up behind the scoreboard and right beside (or on top of) the fireworks are the thirty Tecos supporters that have dared make the trip. I'm sure their were more before the fireworks were set off. This is just one of the ploys adopted by Los Tigres to put of their opponents. Later, whenever their players have the ball, the ground announcer thanks the sponsors. These include Cemex (that enormous cement factory), Coca-Cola, Carta Blanca and the tongue twisting Peter Piper's Pizzas.

The pre-match entertainment is a continual series of cheerleaders, a barrage of teashirts into the crowd and a man wearing a spiderman shirt (sponsored by Coca-Cola) who is doing astonishing work while holding a bottle of coke and, occasionally, who I can only presume is his two year old daughter. Whether or not the coke gives him his powers is a moot point. Occasionally he leaves his daughter to perform more tricks. She is non-plussed as both teams are warming up my kicking footballs around her at high velocity.

The home fans

The action. In the far corner are Los Tigres Locos, or the crazy tigers. They sang and danced non-stop for 90 minutes

Jose-Luis, the second man conspiring to get me drunk, continues to order beer from Andreas. One for you, one for me. I am impressed that I am matching him beer for beer and increasingly disturbed that he is also my ride home. As the first half continues, Los Tigres dominate through a mixture of their own skill and the timing of the ground announcer. They get the ball in the back of the net and the stadium erupts. Jose-Luis wags his finger at me. 'No goal' he states and after a dissappointed moment we all sit back down. There is distressingly little protest from crowd and players.

Half time and it is still nil-nil. Spiderman is back with his coke bottle, but his daughter is absent. Presumeably she has gone to bed and not been knocked out by a football. Suddenly some bales of hay are laid out all over the field. Two teams of children appear at each end, one in white the other in red. The ground announcer shouts 'uno, dos, tres!' and a man in a cowboy hat releases something. For a minute I can't work out what it is, until I realise it is a chicken. The two teams chase the chicken across the field until one scrags it to the ground and holds it aloft triumphantly. They go back to their places, and with an 'uno, dos, tres!' they're off again. I find myself cheering for the chicken. On its third attempt, it jumps the ditch that surrounds the field and gets away. After another chicken is found, the teams are back at it, and eventually the nasty white team from the far end emerge victorious, 4-2.

Somewhere here is the chicken.

The battle for the football resumes and this time Los Tigres are playing towards our end. They completely dominate but are thwarted time and time again by the Tecos goalkeeper. Suddenly it is fulltime and Los Tecos escape with a draw. No goals, no fights, no yellow cards even, but a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Jose-Luis pays the bartender, who shakes my hand profusely. Jose-Luis and I have knocked back 14 Carta Blanca between us.

The cups. Jose-Luis would place the new beer cup inside his old beer cups as he drank. I tried this but only managed to spill beer down my shirtfront.

We negotiate traffic and on the affirmative answer to Jose-Luis's question 'you like beef' we go and find a restaurant. As we sit down, he orders another beer. I have obviously been influenced by spiderman as I order a coke. As Jose-Luis starts his beer he points to it and says 'twelve. Four before the game, seven during the game and now this'. The man who is driving me home has drunk a dozen beers without having a visible effect. My seven beers have removed my fear, so I accept his ride home.

I can't say that no chickens were harmed in the making of this blog.


Chris said...

i'd like to say that my weekend was equally eventful, but that's simply not true.

Emma B said...

first ever football match... what a crime.