It was a grey day with a light breeze, threatening rain but not quite following through, and remarkably warm for the tail-end of October. I settled into my seat amongst several dozen students, and began scanning the field for activity. After a brief musical introduction, the game began.
The audience is segregated into fans for each team. We sat in the “Bolton Supporters Only” section, and it’s probably a good thing that I wasn’t wearing the colors of the opposing team. Impassioned clusters of fans (some sounding more inebriated than others) periodically burst into chants and song. I didn’t even have to look at the field to find out how our team was doing. At each misstep a solemn moan swept over the stadium. A near miss was signalled by an escalating shout culminating in a roar of disappointment. Sometimes a barrage of clapping and whistling burst out from the stands. Usually this didn’t mean we scored anything. Actually, it seemed that people clapped any time the ball got kicked around, no matter how insignificant the play looked to me.
I admit, I have been spoiled by American football. The fast pace, rapid scoring, and hand-to-hand combat grip me far more than the grace and power of soccer. I don’t really understand the rules of soccer either, which doesn’t help. I just can’t understand the sense in clapping joyfully when the score remains at 0-0 for nearly an hour.
However, there was more to experience there than just a football game. At halftime I was introduced to a singular British delicacy: Bovril.
I had heard about this intriguing drink/food before, but had never gotten up the gumption to buy it. As I stood in line for food at halftime I was faced with a difficult decision: cappuccino or Bovril? Cappuccinos are the typical thing I would buy, but what would my adventurous-Britophile-blogger-side do? Well, the answer was obvious.
The first sensation was very hot and very salty. Not what you might typically expect from a drink. I carried on however, and discovered that it tasted like beef broth, with a touch of liquid Marmite. I found it quite soothing as the warm liquid slipped down my throat. I couldn’t quite finish the whole cup (there must have been half a pound of salt in there), but was pleasantly surprised altogether.
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