Late afternoon, after I got back from Arita, I headed out with friends to go see Fukuoka’s J1 League soccer team, Avispa (Spanish for Wasp). I’m not particularly a soccer fan, but after indulging in a handful of free baseball games of late, I thought it would make for a nice change of pace to see another sport. So when tickets were offered, I jumped at the chance, and I’m glad I did!
I’ll still not watch soccer on TV; it’s like the perfect soporific to make me drop off. But my friend’s coworker had gotten to the stadium four hours early and snagged us 13th row seats. Which were amazingly close to the field! Avispa scored twice early, which, given they are in last place (this is their first year back in J1 after a several year absence), and the opponents were the first place Kawasaki Frontale, was both lucky and exciting.
Kawasaki were definitely the better team. They had amazing ball control and dictated the action on the field. But in the end, the game was tied, which is a decent outcome, all things considered.
- I thought the baseball cheer sections in the outfield, complete with flags and brass bands, were pretty hardcore. But the Avispa and Frontale supporters, with seats at either end of the field, were a whole other level. Drums, gigantic flags, and energy levels to make a five year old envious. They were jumping for the entire game, which ran 2.5+ hours. Impressed.
- Never did figure out their main cheer, which sounded suspiciously like “Go away!”, but was probably the more sporting, “Ganbare!” “Avispa! Fukuoka!” was much easier to discern.
- There’s no food or drink vendors inside the stadium, which is newer and lovely and kept us dry, even in the rain. You must exit the stadium to buy from the vendors outside. And they stop selling at game time. If I go again, I will bring my own food and drink.
- The stadium is ridiculously hard to get to. We spent an hour on the bus from Tenjin to get to the stadium, which is very close to the airport (it’s all of a 12 minute train ride from Tenji to the airport, for comparison). And it took an hour in a friend’s car to get back. If I go back, I will train to the airport and walk. It’s about a half an hour walk, which would still beat sitting on a bus for an hour.
- All that hitting the ball with your head can backfire. Watched an Avispa player whack his head into another player entirely by accident. He had to shake it off carefully (the other guy was fine).