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View from the End Line: Rituals and Traditions

Match day routines are as individual as we are.

MLS: Toronto FC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone has their own match day habits, including me. Some people are so superstitious about it that if they cannot follow their rigorously planned out path, they melt down, and a poor result could fall squarely on the fact that they put the left sock on first instead of the right.

Now let’s throw a monkey wrench into the mix and bring up home versus away matches. Where do you watch? Where do you sit? What do you order? And, do you wear the normal match day gear or does it differ? I have a few rituals and traditions that I somewhat swear by.

I can break my rituals up into two separate categories: home and away. For home matches, I pretty much wear the same thing every match — my black or gray Dickies shorts and my murdered-out, all-black, Orlando City jersey (thanks Eric). I am not one that has a lucky pair of underwear or socks, so I just grab what I think will be comfortable. This is the third thing I do. The first two are bit more important, especially the very first thing I do: make coffee. This is more of an every morning thing, but it is important nonetheless. I do not need that morning cup of coffee to survive, but I certainly do enjoy it.

The next thing I do is make sure that I have everything set up on the Facebook group for which I am an admin. Threads need to be scheduled, posts locked down, and everything squared away so that I do not need to pay it much attention until well after the match. Then I throw on the aforementioned attire, and start planning the rest of match day.

Planning is typically pretty simple as meeting location messages get bounced around in numerous social circles to determine the best spot to meet for those pre-match pints. These places are not of some ritualistic importance, but more of convenience and wanting to support local businesses and breweries.

What is of ritualistic importance is the beer before I enter the stadium. That beer must come from the downstairs bar at Stonewall, and it should be a Reef Donkey from Tampa Bay Brewing. I am not saying there is a correlation, but the team’s form has been a bit underwhelming since Stonewall stopped carrying this particular beer. They do carry Jai Alai from Cigar City in tallboys, which is a decent substitute, but I do miss my pre-match Reef Donkey. The only thing left for me to do is to enter the stadium.

Away matches are a bit more complex, and seemingly take more planning. I am not speaking of travelling to watch, but more the planning to find out if any of my Orlando City brethren from the Olde South End (Section 129 of the Citrus Bowl), want to converge upon Aztec d’ Oro on University and watch the match while enjoying some great food and drinks.

The morning rituals are pretty much the same, minus a change in color of shirt. I was gifted a purple training top from a friend at the beginning of this season. Anyone who has followed my ramblings for the past few seasons may remember my rule about getting a new jersey, the rule about not buying a new jersey until OCSC makes the playoffs. Well, I do not consider this to violate that rule as it was a gift.

I would not consider where we watch to be a ritualistic aspect of the day, as we have certainly changed venues over the years to watch matches, but meeting somewhere is certainly a tradition. When I do leave the comfort of my house to watch an away match, it is always with some version of the same crew. Sometimes there have been 10 to 15 of us, sometimes just two, but regardless, it is with these folks that watching road matches has become what it is. It also doesn’t hurt that the current tradition is that away days are also taco days filled with Modelo.

Everybody is going to handle match days differently — some more rigidly than others. I remember when I played high school soccer in West Germany (yes, at one point in the not-so-distant past the current country of Germany was actually still divided up as East and West Germany and I lived there for three years), one of my teammates had this thing about socks. If we lost, he would not wash his socks, but he would if we won. Thankfully, we were not a horrible team and the socks got washed more often than not. What match day rituals and traditions do you have? The weirder and wilder, the better. Let us know in the comments section below.

Also, Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there!