Was Dennis excited? You bet your sweet ass he was. He had never been to see his beloved Barcelona play, and by chance had finally been given the opportunity to do so; mere days before they took on AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League final, a fellow Barca fan had offered him a spare ticket. That Dennis was able to take up the offer was equally serendipitous; he was, in fact, an Amsterdammer, but had been given a trip to Athens as a combination Christmas/Birthday present by his wife. By chance, it was in the Athenian Olympic Stadium that the match would take place. He was lucky also, in that she didn’t mind him skipping out on their Summer vacation for one night in order to see his favourite football team. So it was that Dennis was in high spirits when he arrived in the Greek capital.
If it seemed to good to be true, well…that’s because it was. Conrad, the friend who had presented him with the ticket, and Anushka, another supporter of Catalonia’s finest who had yet to see them play, met him in a local café bar. It was there, while sipping from a can of none-to-delectable Aegean, that he finally had the chance to see the actual slips of paper which would grant him entry to the OAKA, and he saw to his dismay that the tickets had a section tippexed out. What was the meaning of this? Anushka assured him that it was nothing to worry about; the seller had instructed her to simply write in a name & passport reference number over the tippex. Dennis was not completely convinced, but simply trusted to luck. After all, there were three of them, what could go wrong?
Upon leaving the café bar, the trio set off for the metro that would take them to the stadium, and Conrad had the bright idea of smoking a joint on the way. Anushka, most sensibly, refused. Now, Dennis was hardly a weed aficionado, but he thought, ‘What the hell’ and accepted the blunt gratefully. He had not intended to smoke quite so much of it, but by the time he threw the end away Dennis realised that he’d had roughly half the spliff… Probably wouldn’t matter though, right?
Once they hopped on the M1, however, he discovered that his mouth was getting increasingly dry. He suddenly had a desperate thirst, and could only think of when he might be able to purchase a blessed bottle of water. Conrad and Anushka were excitedly chatting among themselves, blissfully unaware of Dennis’ situation. Gradually, but inexorably, his throat began to close. Gripping the handrail for dear life, Dennis began to lose consciousness. As he did so, his fingers relaxed, and as he tumbled to the carriage floor he simultaneously tumbled into oblivion…
He came to at the sensation of water splashing onto his upturned face. Some sort of lozenge was shoved into his mouth, and he heard a voice from a long way away saying, “Suck on this, it’s sugar, you’ll feel better!” Slowly, as if covered in molasses or submerged in tar, he climbed back to his feet, aided by his two concerned and compassionate companions. They took him off the train at the next stop – still five or six short of their destination – and brought him up to the surface to get some fresh air. He thanked his comrades for not abandoning him. It transpired that Conrad had cheekily robbed a bottle of water from a commuter after Dennis fell, and had subsequently used it to spray the unconscious unfortunate in the face! Dennis laughed at this, and after a a few long gulps from the bottle felt well enough to continue.
Once they arrived at Irini Station, they made the short walk towards the Olympic complex and were confronted by Catalan stewards inspecting all the away fans’ papers. Confidently, the three amigos stepped up to the cordon and handed over their tickets. One made it through. The other two were brought to one side, and informed that their money had been spent on counterfeits. Anushka was lucky. Conrad and Dennis were not.
The two men, now sullen and dejected, trekked back through the city centre and tried to find a bar showing the game. A few minutes after kick-off, they looked in the window of a dismal dive of a place – a dark, dingy club with overpriced beer and haughty service – and saw the match playing on a small screen. Maybe, just maybe, their night would be salvaged by a tremendous Barca victory that would leave them with smiles on their faces…
By now you know that this is not that kind of story. Their heroes were annihilated, demolished, torn apart. Milan capped off a wonderful performance with a 4-0 victory that would live long in the memory of all concerned. Of course, there were two voluble AC supporters in the bar who made absolutely sure that Dennis and Conrad experienced the full humiliation of the evening. How considerate of them.
What a calamity.
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…⚽