Long before we left for our trip, he began researching any potential football or sports fixtures we may come across along the way. When he discovered there was a cup match in Oaxaca while we were there, he decided immediately to go, whether or not I or anyone else wanted to go with him.
For anyone who knows me it will come as no surprise that I didn’t much fancy accompanying him, but some of our fellow travellers did. Though he’d bought his ticket while we were still in Cancun for fear of not getting one, the remainder of our group who tagged along bought tickets easily on the night at the stadium.
The match in question was a Mexican Cup match on between local team and B League Champions Alejibres de Oaxaca (formerly known as ‘The Grasshoppers’ – changed because they kept being beaten by teams with much more predatory names like ‘The Jaguars’) and the big top flight team from the capital, Cruz Azul, and he’s here to tell you all about it:
The Estadio Technologico itself has a capacity of around 20,000 basic seats in four double-tiered stands – all of which would be fairly unremarkable were it not for the distinct modern sculpture featured across the back of the the south stand behind one of the goals. This stand was also where the players, staff and officials emerged from an inflatable tunnel, for their protection from any irate fans.
The only small moment of over exuberance we saw was a single flare thrown onto the pitch in the opening minutes, but from there on it it was mainly left to the stadium announcer at every dead-ball situation to first remind us all who all the official sponsors were and then to lead the crowd in a cheer of “Alejibres! Alejibres! Alejibres!”.
Then there was the Alejibres band, which played vibrant brass and drum tunes and waved club flags constantly for the match’s duration; a vast improvement on the England national team band, if I’m honest.
Another highlight, like at the Lucho Libre in Puebla, was the variety of food and drink being offered by sellers walking from row to row. Crisps, nuts, tacos, Dominoes Pizza, toffee apples, donuts, candy floss and the official beers of Corona and Victoria. It was arguably more entertaining to see all the sellers go about their task and in particular to see the eyes of the young child in front of us light up as he began to plead with his mother to get them another snack every time one came near.
After a goalless non-event of a first half my biggest highlight was the half time show, which saw the Championship trophy paraded on the pitch along with a cacophony of fireworks. It was a display that was repeated when underdogs Alejibres de Oaxaca opened the scoring just after the restart. I would say the crowd went wild, but in reality I think that because plenty of Cruz Azul fans were mixed in amongst the locals, the reaction was one of happy surprise. The bigger celebration was reserved for the full time whistle when the 1-0 score line was confirmed and the fireworks were launched once again in full force to the blaring sound of the Alejibres anthem from the sound system.
Fans from both teams walked out of the stadium together, no fuss, and we easily found a taxi to take us back to the centre which thankfully travelled at a far calmer speed than the one which took us there at the beginning of the night!