24 April 2011

Guest Post: Black Stars guide us home

“So today is the day…. Beer v Supermalt. Ketchup v Shitto. Pie and Mash v Fufu and light soup. BBC1 v OBE. Sandals v Chalewate. Volvic v Ice water. Electricity v Light off. JLS V Daddy Lumba. England v Ghana!!!!!!”

As my train pulls into Wembley Park station, my every sense capitulates to the overwhelming scene that befalls me. Colour, music, noise, a buzz of energy so thrilling it sizzles like a jolt of electricity has been infused into the air.  There are people in every direction, moving fluidly as one, like an army en route to victory. Flags drape proudly over broad shoulders bearing the mighty black star with pride and dignity. For a moment I cease to reflect on the reason that has brought me here (forgetting my friends who have been waiting twenty minutes for my typically late self) as I bask proudly among my fellow Ghanaians for whom today is about remembering where we are from; the very idiosyncrasies (obsessive cleanliness, infectious laughter, obligatory preamble of ‘heh’ before every sentence) and cultural practices (family, God, friends - in that order), that make us Ghanaian. Today we stand proud of our past and its impact on our future. Win or loose, we will stand united as one, forging a new reputation for our country.  No more questioning Ghana – Do you mean Guyana? No we mean Ghana! Today we celebrate our arrival in to the UK’s consciousness – not as another poor under developed, war ravaged, corrupt African country, but as a people willing to work hard, persevere, show grit and determination and fight to the last. And with 21,000 supporters, the highest number of away fans in Wembley’s history, our presence can’t help but be noted. Today we have arrived… Akwaaba!

England scored first – typically it was as I got up to go to the loo – I blame myself - Black Stars I’m sorry. A pretty good goal from the indomitable Andy Carroll, proving alcohol, drugs and the good life does help you score. His sheer physicality bore down on the comparably small Ghana side; not even the brute force of the experienced Mensah could curtail Carroll’s first goal for his country.

As the game drew to a close, my spirits deflated. Not even the enigmatic chants of ‘we will score you, we will put pepper in your eye’ emboldened me. A few people began to leave but whether through stubbornness, belief in the squad or the horror of facing 60,000 smiling England fans, I remained rooted to my seat joining the cries of ‘away, away, away’ every time the ball approached the Ghana goal.

Then suddenly in the first minute of extra time Asamoah Gyan scored and a cacophony of sound engulfed me. I scarcely recall seeing anything other than a blur of colour, as 21,000 people jumped in sheer jubilation. Gyan danced, drums pounded, the vuvuzela horn blew and a titillating magnetism ran through the stadium.  We knew that this was history in the making (the first time Ghana scored against England), and one of the greatest football experiences of our lives.

Final score England 1- Ghana 1. We have arrived


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