Sporting events 

Sporting events 

So far I have attended an NBA (basketball) game involving the Atlanta Hawks, an NFL (football) pre season game involving the Atlanta Falcons, a MLB (baseball) game involving the Atlanta Braves and last night I went to my first college football game as Georgia Tech played Clemson in Atlanta. 

Each of these were different in their own way, the basketball was my first major sporting event to attend with Leanne here in the USA and I was still in awe of a lot of Atlanta and the Hawks managed to win and overall it was a great event. The Braves game was equally a good night, we had Robert with us and it was fun. The Braves PR team even made it better by giving us free hats and t-shirts as it was our very first baseball game to see. Kudos to them for that gesture. The NFL game was a pre season one for the Falcons so was quite a lack luster affair but again we had fun as myself and Robert went with our Irish neighbour. 

And so last night it was time to experience College football. The fact that the stadium probably holds about 80000 and was about 3/4 full on a Thursday night absolutely astounded me. With Leanne being a Michigan State fan, and me as well by default, I knew the stadiums were big but to actually walk into one was amazing. It is a full blown production, big band, cheer leaders, fireworks etc. Unfortunately Georgia Tech lost last night bringing an end to my unbeaten event attending, the Falcons, Hawks and Braves all won when I attended.

At the Georgia Tech game

Now compare these sporting events to back in Ireland. Probably nothing can compare to the production, pre game and during game entertainment to off the pitch. But on the pitch games at home are much more exciting, less stopping and starting, play is more involved. But is one better than the other, No, not at all. I do love all sports and I do miss attending St Patrick’s Athletic matches at home with our little crowd of 1000 but I have also enjoyed all the sporting events I have gone to so far in Atlanta. 

There are a few more on my list to attend, an ice hockey game in Detroit, a Michigan State football game, an Atlanta United soccer match when they are up and running and a USA international soccer match as well. Which one gets my vote as the most enjoyable so far? Well that’s a tough choice, the Braves looked after us and Robert was able to attend, the Hawks as it was my first game to go to with Leanne, Falcons as it was first NFL game or the College football? I will have to go with the college football and its more to do with the off the pitch stuff. The band played practically non stop for the full night, the student fans made lots of noise and they had a white out night, where everyone wore white, and it all added up to a great occasion. So Georgia Tech lost, but the night, the event, as a whole was superb. Oh and I have to mention traffic management, at home traffic basically comes to a standstill after events, here the traffic management is excellent and everyone gets away and home quickly and efficiently. 

So I look forward to lots more sporting events, enjoying this particular aspect of my new home, and maybe becoming emotionally attached to a club so I can cheer them on just like I did at home for St Patrick’s Athletic. 

Expatriate St Patrick’s Athletic Fan

Expatriate St Patrick’s Athletic Fan

And here is why. Below is an article I wrote about myself and being an expat fan following St Patrick’s Athletic from over here in the USA. It was used in the match programme a few weeks ago.

St Pats fan abroad.

Quick About Me: Billy Galligan, 48. Born and bred in Inchicore, St Pats fan all my life and will remain so from America.

Favorite St Pats moment has to be Christy Fagan scoring the second goal to clinch the FAI Cup in November 2014.

FAI Cup 2014 St Pats v Derry (100)-2
Christy Fagan roles the ball into the net to clinch the 2014 cup for St Pats after a 53 year wait

Just as the 2015 Airtricity League season ended I emigrated to the USA, more specifically a city called Decatur just on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, the home of CNN, Coca Cola and Atlanta United. My choice to leave Ireland and move to the USA was an easy one, I moved here to marry my sweetheart and start a whole new life together.

For most of my life I had lived in Inchicore and within sight of Richmond Park. Over the last number of seasons, I was nearly always on the camac side touchline taking photos for ExtraTime.ie and supporting the team through a camera lens, now though I will be cheering them on via Twitter and other online media.

Following matches online, waiting on a score update or news is possibly more nerve wrecking than anything, constantly hitting refresh to see if is there is an update, dreading the beep from the football score app in case it’s a goal against Pats, cheering at the phone when it’s a goal for Pats. I am sure somewhere along the way I will be out somewhere and I will randomly cheer at the phone and my new American friends will wonder what is going on!

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Leanne happily posed in a St Pats jersey before attending a match in Ireland last season

Being overseas during a match is nothing new to most fans but to be away and not knowing when I will be home again to see a match is strange. I intend to return to Ireland next December but of course then the season will be over. When I go walking here I nearly always have my St Pats hat on and I am always getting asked ‘What team do I support?’  When I answer St Patricks Athletic from Inchicore in Dublin it raises a few eyebrows as they expect to hear Liverpool, Man Utd or some other English team.

I look forward to the 2016, and will be following the team from the USA and would like to wish Liam and all the staff, players, volunteers and fans an enjoyable, successful and safe season.

As I say in the above article, I will always be a St Patrick’s Athletic fan, even if I start going to Atlanta United games here. Once a football fan, always a football fan.