Yes, Hòa Xuân was far from full (thanks, COVID-19) and some louder away fans wouldn’t have gone amiss, but a mostly drab 2-1 win for Viettel was livened up immeasurably by how engaged the supporters were.
My Vietnamese language skills are pretty poor, but even I was able to recognise the distinct tone of ridicule being rained down on the away side, plenty of jokes that made all around me laugh and moans, groans and wails of consternation as Đà Nẵng huffed and puffed without looking like scoring in the second half.
There was even that classic of live football, the overly passionate and angry supporter ranting and raving to no one in particular and somehow managing to pick a fight with most of the stand, though in a sign of the times he seemed to be losing his rag about having to wear a mask. Let’s charitably say he spent too much time in the sun over the long weekend.
This isn’t to say none of this banter, for lack of a better word, went on at other grounds with running tracks this weekend, but I can’t help but feel teams, fans and the game itself wouldn’t be better served with purpose-built football stadiums.
I understand why the running track is so common as budget-conscious local authorities would have insisted on getting value for money out of these stadiums when they were first built by using them for multiple sports, and rightly so.
Times have changed though, and again with apologies to track and field fans, but far more fans show up on a consistent basis to watch football than to watch hurdles. I'm also guessing there is likely more funding available now to build stadiums dedicated to athletics that there was in the past.
So when grounds up and down the country are revamped (hopefully sooner rather than later based on the states of some stadiums), here’s hoping we can dispense with running tracks and play the beautiful game in the atmosphere it deserves. VNS