Dublin: Awayday Diaries
Words and photos by Nathen McVittie
In a stadium that holds 52,000 people, you would expect to feel surrounded. Attending a football match - or any major sporting event - is often synonymous with a strange mix of being cornered, covered, but also cozy alongside fellow fanatics. However, in some places and certain situations, that comfort can fade. The away end at Aviva Stadium in Dublin has a funny way of making you feel vulnerable.
The occasion is an international friendly: Ireland vs USA on a breezy night in Dublin. The glass wall of the North end acts as a window to the outside world, exposing you to imaginary feelings of being observed, watched or just plain alone.
The American Outlaws have brought nearly 1000 fans. They come from everywhere. The States, Europe and beyond. Still, the feeling of individuality permeates throughout. The chants begin. The scarves go up. The Irish supporters in the stands, towering above, casually glance down on the inconsequential away fans - some of whom have paid thousands of dollars to sing for 90 minutes.
The USA end up losing 4-1 in a fairly lackluster display against the Irish. Yet that isn't what seems to affect the fans most. The strongest and largest display of support for their National team outside of a World Cup in recent memory just felt betrayed by the structure that was supposed to comfort them.
While the Aviva is a wonderful feat of engineering and a haven for the Irish, the away end has a magnificently designed ability to reduce even the most ardent fan to an isolated and fragmented voyeur of the looming structure before them.
This piece was written by Where Is Football's Nathen McVittie as part of a series reflecting upon US Soccer awaydays in Europe.