Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Jay & Steve go to the Olympics

Bonus post this week.  Who says I can't be spontaneous?  The ultimate Mr. Planner took a flyer and ended up at the Olympics.  My buddy Jay asked me on Saturday if I wanted to go to the women's soccer (football) semi-final on Monday night (USA vs. Canada).  Sure, why not?  How could I pass that up?

So, I bought a £10 Olympic shirt and a £2 USA flag at the mall on Sunday and was all set.

So, with Jay's planning (tickets, parking, driving, etc.), we were off to the Olympics.  But, wait, aren't they in London?  Though most events are in or near London, the football (soccer) is spread all over.  This semi-final was in Manchester, about 90 or so minutes away from Derby.  So, another plus was getting to see the famed Old Trafford Stadium, home to Manchester United.  It probably would have been better to be closer to the rest of the Olympics to get the vibe, etc. but this was a nice consolation!

Funny moment on the way up:  Jay had to guess at the Sat Nav (GPS) code as it wasn't posted on the web site.  Signage for the park-n-ride was lacking so we were driving around looking for it.  We finally pulled over, called and got the coordinates (close) and we then utterly confused the Sat Nav in the next roundabout.  It basically "Chevy Chased" us around (2nd right, reset, 2nd right, reset).  After a few illegals maneuvers and sore ribs from laughing we finally made it out.  Hey, look, Big Ben!

Here's Jay picking up our tickets.  These will-call huts were a hoot.  Specially since most were larger and contained multiple windows, but not "S".  It was Special.

Better to arrive early than late and we were insanely early.  We allowed for traffic and the estimated park and ride time and we didn't need any of it.  We got there about 2 hours before kickoff.  Here are members of the US team warming up.  The only two names I had heard off before the game were Amy Wambach (2nd from the left waving) and the goalie (outspoken Hope Solo, not shown).

Note: it's a real shame, especially when you are 2 hours early, that the Brits have been such hooligans over the years.  You can't take your beer from concessions INTO THE STADIUM.  Another one or two would have hit the spot while we were waiting.

Pre-game anthems.  The entire crowd was on our side but there must have been a few dignitaries on the other side.   Jay turned 6 shades of purple when he saw they let the flag touch the ground.

The stadium holds about 76,000 which is a little overkill for this game (announced attendance of about 26,000).  They filled the lower sections on one side and behind both goals.  It was nice that a couple of schmucks like us could get some good seats at the last minute.  Our seats were 6 rows up from the middle purple banner but more or less at mid field (pitch).

Ready to kickoff.  Unfortunately, the seats were mostly empty across the way.  It wasn't that bad.  The crowd got into it, particularly after half time.

Action shot for the US.  This is the one time I really wished I was lugging around a better camera.  Normally my little Coolpix is fine but it was overmatched in this environment.

The match was tight the whole way with the underdog Canada team going up only to have the USA equalize each time.  Down 3-2, the USA team got the break on two calls.  The first was really poor in that the Canada goal keeper was essentially called for a delay (never happens in that situation) and the US got this free kick.  The star of the game, in my opinion, Megan Rapinoe (aka Blondie for Jay and me) drilled a shot into the wall of Canucks.  The one gal in the middle (flinching) got nailed and it happen to hit her hand.  Hand ball called (not in the spirit of the rule, IMO).

Which set up this Amy Wambach penalty kick to tie.

The match went into extra (over) time and was down to the last minute.  It was looking like penalty kicks were going to decide it when Alex Morgan scored on a header.  Wow!  What a finish.  I almost felt bad for the Canadian fans, particular the 2 fanatics sitting in front of us (complete with felt hockey helmets--no photo, sorry).  That was the ultimate stomach punch game for them.

Here's the team coming over to wave to the crowd after the crazy win.

Thanks to Jay for setting this up.  It was a great night (though we got back kinda late) and the logistics went extremely well.  Glad to say I watched this match AND attended the London 2012 Olympics . . . . in Manchester.

Not sure this will work in the US (someone let me know), but a nice set of highlights are here.

See Jay's post for another view and likely better photos here.

No post next week as we are off on another adventure.  Stay tuned.


  1. Nice bonus post - we ended up doing okay for throwing this together at the last minute didn't we?

  2. You picked a great event to attend. Evidently, the delaying tactic wasn't an isolated incident as Abby Wambach helped remind the referee.


  3. What a cool bonus trip ... and quite the matchup to get to see. Hmmm, perhaps there is more to a spontaneous life than I give it credit?!?! Perhaps ... :)

    On another note, I made your recipe for Mediterranean Pasta tonight for dinner; you must have given me the recipe over 7 years ago, at least. It was yummy!! Thanks for sharing it! (fresh diced tomatoes w/ basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, cayenne pepper served over angel hair and some feta cheese sprinkled ontop. delish ... and quick!)

  4. @Jay -- yes we did!

    @David -- thanks for the link. The tactic wasn't that isolated but it was still unusual to have it called I think. The penalty of a free kick in the box seemed a little severe as well, but I am no expert. Let's just say I would have been upset had I been on the other side.

    @The Mrs -- spontaneity is good in small doses. :-) I'll stick to my planning style for most things. Glad you enjoyed the recipe.