Last month I went on a little vacation, hence the reason for the severe lack of posts for the entire month of December, actually none at all. Any ways, while there I took the time to take in some Colombian footy action. It was not the first time that I had attended a match in Colombia, but it was the first time that I documented a game. The game was none other than the Colombian Final between Deportivo Independiente Medellin and Atletico Huila. Medellin had a near perfect season sweeping through every single match and was a favorite to reach the Colombian final. Huila had a great season, especially considering that it is one of the smaller teams of the Colombian league, but an appearance in the final was not a popular choice made by the locals.
It was a two legged final, the first game was played in Huila in front of a sold out 40,000 seat stadium and Medellin drove away with the honors after winning 1-0 with a goal from Jackson Martinez, who just signed with Jaguares of Mexico after River Plate placed in a bid for him. Martinez finished as the Colombian scoring champion with 18 goals in 20 games.
The second game of the final took place in Medellin. You could tell in the days leading up to the game that there was an important date coming up by the atmosphere that was being lived in the city. Every roundabout in Medellin was filled with Medellin gear and flags, every street corner had Medellin yearbooks and magazines. At night the clubs would play songs that are specific to the team with salsa rhythms that became a useful excuse to ask the ladies out to the dance floor. People walking in the streets wore red and blue, every taxicab conversation began with a “how bout them Medallo!” It was futbol at its best and the people made it that way.
The day of the game I scoured the outside of the stadium for tickets. It took me 3 1/2 hrs to find someone that was willing to sell me tickets. Each ticket cost me 80,000 pesos in other words $40. It’s face value was 12,000 pesos in other words $6! people had camped out the night before the game to buy their tickets in the morning. It all sold out within the hour! The stadium was a t capacity and more. They managed to squeeze 54,000 people in a 48,000 seat stadium!
The Rexixtencia Norte, which is Medellin’s die hard fans were out to put on a show that day, a show worth while. It seemed like they could bring in anything they wanted into the stadium. From the biggest soccer flag I had ever seen in my life to smoke bombs in red and blue!
The ref blue the starting whistle and you could immediately feel the tension in the air. You would see the old fokes with portable radios placed against their ear to listen to a narrator while watching the game and you could see the later generations sweating it out while drunk. The general consensus before the match was that Medellin would take this game without any problems. After Huila opened the score people were not feeling as sure as they were before the game started. Especially after their goalie, Aldo Bobadilla, was becoming the man of the match while the minutes progressed. Half time ended with Huila 1-0 and forcing penalty kicks if the game ended as it was.
Medellin came out with all guns blazing and managed the tempo of the game. Huila decided to defend the score and they paid a heave price for it. Luis Fernando Mosquera and Jackson Martinez scored back to back goals that ended up giving Medellin the championship. The stadium, the city, the region was just beginning what would end up being one of the biggest parties I had ever witnessed.
It was a great experience! The passion that is felt towards the game in South America is non comparable to anything that goes on in the world, including Europe. It is something everyone has to experience before their time is up.
Talk to you later