Football at Fenway: A fan’s experience

Should have painted the Monstah red.

When Fenway Sports Group, the American investment company that also owns the Boston Red Sox, purchased Liverpool FC in 2010 it was clear that the storied club would be getting a lot more attention in New England.

Early on, some of that attention was negative, with many Sox fans I knew fearing the acquisition would lead to the owners neglecting their duties with the baseball team or being a little more tight with their spending.

But almost two years later, Liverpool came to visit historic Fenway Park in my adopted city, and judging by the crowd and atmosphere little of that initial wariness remains.

FSG and Liverpool did a fantastic job promoting this game and the stadium, which was adorned with some nice touches to recreate a real English football match in Liverpool, was practically full. And I’d conservatively estimate that 75% of the reported 37,169 fans at Fenway were wearing Liverpool gear and not giallorossi.

And despite losing 2-1 to the visiting Italian side, the club and stadium hosted a good match and surely won over some of their newer fans.

Some more details about the fan experience and amateur iPhone photography after the jump.

This was not the first European football friendly to be played at Fenway Park. The stadium has hosted 20 soccer matches in its history, the most recent one before Wednesday night being 2010’s friendly between Celtic FC and Sporting Lisbon.

I was in Boston for that match and the excitement was nowhere near the level it reached before this latest affair. FSG, which also owns a majority of NESN, the local sports station here that covers the Red Sox and other Boston teams, has really pushed LFC hard in the area. Many Liverpool matches are shown on replay on the network and merchandise is available in other souvenier shops throughout the city.

The Fenway area was packed, and history was made with the first ever miniature FourFiveTwo meet up between regular commenters Scouse_eh, KC Gunner, and myself at the Boston Beerworks, just one of many packed bars around the stadium.

We made sure to virulently judge the lone dude in a Tim Cahill Everton orange jersey because we knew that’s what you would want from us. Come to think of it, it might have been Brian.

As we made our way in I saw a lot of people wearing these shirts:

They made a killing off of these.

A little cheesy. But that stuff works around here. Maybe a no-brainer but tying the club to a team with an already fervent fan-base is a very smart move.

As I made my way to the 1st base side, I passed what was dubbed the “Fenway Kop”, the large center and right field bleachers. It was one of the touches I alluded to earlier that showed some attention to detail, I’d say some authenticity, and were pretty cool to see.

Inside.

A sea of red.

Despite being in a standing-room only pavilion, we had a great view:

The carpets over the infield held up well.

The fans had enthusiasm for the most part, but were understandably lacking a bit in knowledge. The “Fenway Kop” wasn’t too happy when Roma’s Michael Bradley opened the scoring in the second half:

Bradley continues to impress.

Chants of USA! were started by a few sections of supporters, even people wearing LFC shirts because why not? It’s a friendly. He’s a USMNT team player. And we finally saw a goal!

But the massholes behind me were irate, and this after wondering loudly the entire game why Carroll, Gerrard, and Suarez weren’t on the pitch. Obviously there are obnoxious fans at any sporting event, but when you combine obnoxiousness with a total lack of understanding of the sport you get a disgusting blend of ignorance and rudeness.

These are extreme examples, and I did hear a few small pockets of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”,  but for the most part chants were kept to the rare “Roma! Roma!” and one or two “Liiiiiiverpooool” choruses.

As the knowledge of the game grows, and this game is clearly part of that, the atmosphere at these matches will continue to improve.

But again, the hosts did a good job of adding to this ambience themselves, and I captured these two images on my way out after an entertaining second half which even saw the jamokes behind me enjoying a goal from their favorite player “Charlie Adams”.

Don’t mind the ugly people in the foreground.

Sign not actually hanging on Fenway.

Overall a great experience, and I’m sure a profitable one for FSG, hopefully ensuring more top quality teams choose to come to Boston to take on New England’s new soccer darling (sorry Revolution) and showcase their brands in the future.

I’d be interested to hear from others who were there, so if you had a wicked good time at Fenway also, let us know about it below.

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6 responses to “Football at Fenway: A fan’s experience

  1. I was there, and by your photos I’d say you were standing not too far behind me. (I was in Pavilion Box 5, row B.) Pregame, the streets were a sea of red. About an hour before kickoff, a huge parade of scousers — with bagpipes — made their way from Kenmore over the Mass Pike, stopping traffic in all directions, and carrying the “THIS IS FENWAY” banner you have a shot of above. I go to about 10 Sox games a year, and the bars around Fenway were MUCH more crowded and rowdy than any Sox game the past few years. Landsdowne St., which is behind the bleachers at Fenway (and where the L’pool fan section was) was a great atmosphere as well…plenty of singing in the street and with fans hanging out of the bars. (The small balcony on the House of Blues was full of the Red fans.) I was beginning to wish I wore my 1989 Michael Thomas jersey to the game, but my wife wouldn’t have appreciated being the center of hate.

    Inside, our seats in the pavilion were obvious in the neutral section, and I thought it was pretty dead up there. With about 10 minutes left we walked down to the 3rd base side (Roma section), and it was louder and had lots more energy than the upper deck. But the seats up there were a fantastic view…I would think the lower box seats in the infield would have been horrible with the low sight lines.

    Overall, it was a fun time, and the 2nd half definitely made up for the moribund 1st half. It was a nice touch for FSG to play “YNWA” before the game, and that did seem to be the loudest part of the game. And singing along to “Who the fuck are Man United” made me happy as well.

  2. Damn I forgot you were around here Eladio. We’ll have to actually post beforehand on the blog next time there’s an event around Boston.

  3. I was at the match, too, and the most striking feature that you didn’t mention was how tiny the pitch was. Maybe 70 or 80 yards long. I was surprised the teams managed to create as much as they did with so little space. But all in all a fun match to attend.

  4. No worries…I haven’t been hanging around here much during the summer anyway. And I wish the game wasn’t a 6:30 kickoff…for those like me who worked, there wasn’t much time to pregame before the game. I hate it when TV dictates my drinking schedule.

  5. Beantown has become my adopted city as well. I didn’t make it to either the Celtic/Lisbon or this past game, but I definitely agree there was much more buzz and excitement in the city surrounding the Liverpool/Roma game.

    Orr, I love this quote: “when you combine obnoxiousness with a total lack of understanding of the sport you get a disgusting blend of ignorance and rudeness.” It’s especially comical because most Bostonians share this attitude towards sports they’ve known for decades, not just soccer/football. They are most comfortable when they are most irritable.

    Just throwing this out there, what are the chances that an official EPL game would ever be considered in the States?

  6. A week late, but I’ll agree with just about everything you all have said. It was quite fun meeting up with Scouse_eh & his buddy the night before and after the game and great to meet Orr & his better half beforehand. We were just barely on the “neutral” side of the Fenway Kop and it was pretty raucous down there. One hilarious guy giving loads of shit to a Latino fan with a noisemaker and a pair of Irish fans in Man U shirts. Tons of Irish (like for real, from Ireland, not Boston Irish) around us, and, man, they have a stunning mastery of the C*** word! But being drug to my feet to dance with a drunken crazed Irishman after Liverpool scored was pretty great. Like Eladio, I wished in hindsight I’d had the stones to wear my Arsenal kit, but it was fine to be a true neutral for the night.

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