I was introduced to the manic, joyous fanatacism that can only be experienced at a Philadelphia sporting event.
It wasn’t a Phillies game, or a 76ers or Flyers playoff game. No, it was a Philadelphia Union soccer game.
It definitely wasn’t my first choice, but it was fun nonetheless. A friend had an extra ticket to the game, so I said, “sure, why not.”
I was first surprised by the ticket price – $35. You can get a cheaper tickets to a 76ers game. However, the seats were much better than the nosebleeds at the Wells Fargo Arena. At PPL Park, we were right on top of the pitch. You could see the play perfectly and follow every pass.
The stadium itself was the second surprise. Brand new, it was built last year, under the bridge to New Jersey. It was nice, convenient, and you could see the boats tooting by in the Delaware River.
The worse part was the rain, but what can you do.
But a little damp weather isn’t going to slow down the Philly faithful. They showed up in droves in their blue and yellow Union scarves and ponchos. The entire east end was for season ticket holders, and the seats were packed in a sea of powder blue.
The hooligans had a songbook full of chants they recited throughout the match. We had a hard time deciphering some of the more complex rhymes, but there were a few even the tone deaf could pick up pretty quickly.
The most popular chant was two words long and accented with a simple drum beat. It went something like this:
Fuck You! (thump, thump) Fuck You! (thump, thump) Fuck You, Fuck You, Fuck You! (thump, thump).
It was infectious.
Another ritual we picked up on quickly was a cheer they yelled every time the opposing goalie made a free kick. As the goalie rears back to punt the ball, the entire stadium roars, “screw you, asshole!!!”
There were young kids in attendance, but they were merely getting an early education in how to truly be a Philadelphia sporting fan.
Outside of Philadelphia, the fans get a bad wrap. Sure, they are profane, and extremely negative, but damn it’s fun, and that is the spirit of it, all in good fun. The fans aren’t beating near to death fans of the opposing teams, or starting riots in the parking lot. They leave it all on the field if you will.
There is no better way to release some pent up frustration and anger than screaming “Fuck You” at no one in particular, and having an entire stadium of people sharing in your rage and exhaltation.
And by the way, the game ended in a tie. Philadelphia led the entire game 1-0 and with 30 seconds left in regulation time the Seattle Sounders scored a goal.
So we yelled, “Fuck You!!!”