I've just come home from an Adelaide United game at Hindmarsh Stadium. I have a season ticket for 'The Reds' and even though we've had a couple of shocking seasons, I still show up each week.
Tonight, however, it was for an AFC Asian Champions League game. For some reason, unknown to the fans, or the club officials I imagine, the team seems to pull themselves together and produce some better football for these special occasions.
A couple of years ago, in 2008, Adelaide United went deep into the AFC Asian Champions League competition, losing the final to Gamba Osaka from Japan on an unimpressive 5-0 aggregate over two legs, but producing some solid football along the way. In 2010 they lost a nail-biter, in the round of 16 against Korean side Jeonbuk Motors; in a game that saw them go behind on the scoreboard twice and score in the last minutes to equalise at 2 - 2 and push the game to extra time.
I've taken friends along to games before and some have enjoyed it and some have not. We're south-enders, so we aren't in 'The Red Army' and we don't wish to pretend we're in Green Street Hooligans either (thanks for nothing Elijah Wood). We chant silly songs and if you happen to be there one night when it's raining, we will be singing some Dragon; we all know everyone likes a bit of Dragon.
If you're at all aware of the recent troubles the world game has been experiencing in Australia, with threats of rogue leagues and teams going under, then you'll know that the future of the sport may not be so bright in our country. This makes it a perfect time to get out and support your local club, to boost the game and have some fun. For those of you who aren't interested in the football, there are also delicious churros on offer.
As we progress further into the Champions League competition, hopefully tickets will become more elusive. In the club's past, dalliances with progression at the ACL Hindmarsh Stadium has been at capacity - and it doesn't matter whether you care about the sport or not. It's impossible not to get caught up in the atmosphere. I had people who are not at all interested in the football trying to sell me organs on the black market if I could score them a ticket to the games when Adelaide got to the finals.
The Hyundai A-League season is over for 2011-2012, but Adelaide generally get a large number of Friday night home games. With the tram running from the city to the Entertainment Centre and back again and the Entertainment Centre being just a short stroll from the ground, getting to and from the games is so easy. It's the perfect way to 'kick' (see what I did there) off a weekend when you can knock off work and head on down to the ground.
So why not give it a go and check out an ACL game, and if you like it give an A-League game a go down the track. Did I mention the churros?