So, we’ve established that the chicken bus is a religious bus. It’s also a football bus.
It’s not like that football hooligan bus which the Manchester fans drive through Europe in Eurotrip. It just quietly goes about its day supporting one of three teams – Barcelona, Madrid or Tottenham.
Okay, no, that last part was a lie. No chicken bus has, or ever will, support Tottenham.
The reason I mentioned this North London team was that travelling through Central America I have realized that if I don’t want to kill off any conversation I have, I have to support a football team.
So after years of, what’s the word I’m looking for…apathy, I have settled down with one team, Tottenham.
Anyway, yes, Madrid or Barcelona are the chicken bus teams, and Guatemala is a country where football is the number one sport. I’ve now been to see a couple of different teams play.
Going to see the team of Quetzaltenango, Xelajú, has so far been the most fun – great views from the stadium, cheap entry, cheap beer (the only stadium I have been to where drinking is allowed), and a good atmosphere.
Xelajú fans (Superchivos) are regarded as the best in Guatemala, and in fact whilst I was studying Spanish in Quetzaltenango, I was unable to see Xelajú play as the team had been banned from its own stadium for the rowdiness of the fans. I had to wait a month before they were allowed back.
Result: Xelaju: 1 – Malacateco: 0
In Guatemala City, there are two teams – Comunicaciones (Cremas) and Municipal (Rojos). They have a healthy hatred of one another.
Cremas play in zone 6 in Estadio Cementos Progreso, whilst Rojos play in zone 11 at El Trebol.
The experience is very different in the city and not at all as fun.
I went to see Cremas play in the National Stadium, Mateo Flores, as Aerosmith were occupying Cementos Progreso.
The atmosphere was very odd. After passing through several security checks by the police, we asked which stand would be most fun to go to. I had been told that ‘General Sur’ (the fan zone) was the most fun. The police didn’t seem to agree.
Vas a morir
You will die
We were blocked from going into the fan zone so settled for another stand. It was clear why we weren’t allowed in ‘General sur.’ The Cremas Ultras were off the heads and didn’t look quite as friendly as the Xelajú fans. They were caged off and separated in their own enclosure with police lining the walls behind them.
Other than them the stadium was almost dead, with more police than fans, and we only stayed until half time where we watched riot police escort the referees off the pitch protecting them with riot shields.
Outside the stadium we met some Ultras. The teardrop tattoos under their eyes said all we needed to know about the reputation of Cremas Ultras.
Result: Comunicaciones: 6 – Halcones: 0
The next game I saw was the Guatemala City derby.
EL CLÁSICO CHAPÍN
I had been looking forward to this for a while and was expecting a good atmosphere. My enthusiasm was dampened somewhat when the night before the match, after telling someone I would be going to see the match, their response was:
I will pray for you. Be careful
Felling slightly apprehensive, we set off through town the next morning. It seems the authorities had tried to minimize trouble by scheduling the match at 11 AM. The fans seemed less drunk than the previous Cremas match I had seen.
Arriving at El Trebol stadium, home of the Rojos, was like entering the Guatemalan Police Academy. The streets were lined with Police pickup trucks and the stadium was surrounded by uniformed officers. It wasn’t even overkill as after the match there was a mass brawl between the two sets of fan.
We entered the stadium at ‘General Norte’ – the Rojos fan zone.
Bienvenido al infierno, hijo de putas
Welcome to Hell motherfuckers
We watched as the Rojos mascot, a devil carrying a coffin, pranced around on the pitch taunting the Cremas fans and players.
Unlike the Cremas who preferred music, Rojos fans made up for their lack of drums with pyrotechnics and fireworks.
One fan stumbled out of the crowd clutching his arm which was bleeding profusely. He was part of a group who were trying to dismantle the concertina wire lining the fences separating the fans from the pitch.
The match wasn’t great. It was only until half way through the second half that a dubious penalty was awarded to see Rojos go one-nil up. The minority of Cremas fans got rowdy and were swiftly beaten by the police before the match got under way again.
What was most entertaining was the especially vitriolic hate between the two sets of fans.
Hueco de mierda
Tu papa es un Crema, y tu mama es una puta
Mono de mierda
Hijo de putas, Cremas
I know it’s normal to abuse and swear at football matches around the world, but what was interesting was that throughout the course of the match I only ever heard one compliment or sign of appreciation. Every opportunity was taken to hate the opponents rather than cheer on their own team.
As the whistle sounded we got out of there quickly before the fans got to work on each other.
Result: Municipal: 1 – Comunicaciones: 0
To round up, Xelajú is the most fun team to go and see, so long as they are playing at their home stadium. Cremas fans are the most hardcore. I think this may be due to the fact there stadium is in the north of the city near to zone 18, which may attract the scariest ultras. The team probably also has the best standard of football, although that isn’t saying much.
I can see why the chicken bus chooses to support Real or Barcelona.