A weird thing happened today. On the other side of the world, my little Scottish team played another little Scottish team in the second leg* of a cup tie. It wasn’t televised.
Due to some weird scheduling, the game went up against a Champions League match (or maybe it was two, I don’t know), and because of the tv rights or some such nonsense, no one could air it.
It’s rare that I see Rangers play. It’s even more rare that I see them in real-time. I catch clips here or there, mostly from Rangers TV or whatever bits and pieces are posted to YouTube, but it’s not ideal. There’s no way to capture the feeling of being in the stadium, of being surrounded by supporters.
As the game drew closer, Twitter was buzzing. An estimated 8,000 Rangers supporters travelled to Rugby Park. Ingress was difficult; away supporters were still outside, trying to get in, with ten minutes on the clock. Those that were inside found the away sections cramped, leaving spectators standing in the aisles.
And we know this because of Twitter.
And, because of Twitter, we were able to find a few people with the good sense (I know: this is debatable) to hold their cell phones aloft and broadcast bits of the game via Periscope.
Under normal circumstances, this is not something I would advocate. There are rights and regulations and copyrights and trademarks and things in play. This is me literally saying to you,”Don’t do this. DO NOT DO THIS. Put your phone away, you idiot.”
But today, people did this. And I clicked the links. And I watched a bit on my lunch hour at work. When I clocked back in to work, I listened.
There was a special kind of magic there, in just listening to the ambient sounds of a soccer match being played on the other side of the world. I can’t tell you what plays were made, or if fouls were correctly called, or if the Killie goal was well-taken. I can tell you that I was caught up in the sounds of the crowd, the ups and downs, the frustration of a near miss, the polite applause following, the absolute pandemonium after Rangers’ second goal. It was as if I was there, in the stadium, shoulder to shoulder with other supporters. It was amazing.
The whistle blew. Rangers 2-1 over Killie. The stadium erupted. Or, rather, the space around the Periscoper I was listening to at the time erupted.
And I’m back in Columbus, watching my friends dance at the final whistle of MLS Cup. And I’m in the lawyers’ living room watching the final minutes in Dallas on tv. And I’m in the press box in Vancouver watching Diego Chara put the ball into the back of the net.
This was the shortest offseason we’ve known as Timbers supporters. In a few days, we’ll be back in our stadium. Until today, I didn’t think I was ready. I needed more time.
Listening to a game played half a world a way changed that. I’m ready.
*I’m told it was a replay, not a second leg. I know nothing about soccer. I knew even less about the mysterious ways of the SFA.