Why You Should Travel Away

Richard Bamber
Mar 15th 2012

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For those of you that dont know me personally, I am English & came to Colorado just over 2 years ago. I moved here to get a lifestyle change & experience living in another part if the world. So far its been great.

Before that, I had 15 years following Crystal Palace, currently residing in Englands 2nd tier Football Championship. I still catch as many Palace games as I can whenever I go back. Even after 2 years, I can simply walk into a pub a couple of hours before the game & rejoin all my old supporter mates with the minimum of prior arrangement. It really is as if I never moved away.

Although I saw many of the faces at home games it was really on the road that these friendships were cemented. There is something about rolling into a strange town or city that unites people who up until then have barely said a word to each other. The sense that you are distinctly in the minority & difficult situations may potentially be lurking around the corner coupled with coping with away travel arrangements is something that makes people stick together & help each other out. Over the years, we amassed many stories as we travelled round the Premier League (Palace were last in the top division in 2004/5) & Championship grounds. We got into our fair share of scrapes, like when a friend of mine borrowed his moms car to drive us to Wolverhampton Wanderers away & forgot it was a diesel. The engine cut out at around 11.30pm a mile after we filled up at a gas station just outside Wolves town center & 150 miles from home. Only problem was that I was due back at college early next morning & wed just knocked them out of the play-offs so we werent feeling exactly safe as we waited for the UK equivalent of the AAA. The ordeal was made much better when fellow Palace fans stopped to lend us their cellphones (it was 1997) & even passing West Brom fans, happy at what wed done to their biggest rivals, were all too willing to invite us into their nearby houses & offer us a cup of tea.

Then there was us been chased down the street by Cardiff City fans after wed just beaten them 2-0, us making the great escape in to Newcastle City Center after beating Sunderland on cold Monday night & heading deep into Sheffield United territory after we drew 2-2 with city rivals Wednesday to send them down into League One two years ago. And Ill never forget our first visit to Swansea Citys new digs; in our first game at the Liberty Stadium we got an unexpected 3-1 victory & faced with a long & slow train journey back to London, decided to buy a load of curry (vindaloo!), 3 bottles of vodka & numerous beers from the station liquor store for the trip home. We gathered all the Palace fans on the train in to one car & pretty much held a full on party. The journey was supposed to take 4 1/2 hours, it seemed more like 2.

Brighton away was always a recipe for a memorable weekend as a combination of the seaside & our main rivals meant virtually everybody made the trip. With the game on a Sunday we headed down the day before but made the mistake of going out to the bars before checking into our youth hostel. When the group pitched up late at night the front desk guy had gone home & we had to convince some very scared looking French students to let us in. No problem we thought as we found an empty dorm to leave our bags in & headed back out downtown, leaving the font door on the latch, hoping that none of the Frenchies would disturb it. You can read about the rest of that trip in a book on Palace supporters thats behind the bar at the Three Lions but the four of us ended up sleeping in the car that night. Oh & the game? 3-2 to Palace!

The closest person to Denver I know from my time in England is a chap called Neil who lives down in Albuquerque. Neil moved to the U.S. about 4 years before me but I remember the last time I saw him in England like it was yesterday. It was Plymouth away & Palace had been absolutely awful, losing 1-0. So there we were in this pub after the game with yet another pint of West country cider in hand, continuing a session which had started at Londons Gatwick airport way earlier that morning. Neil by this time is wasted but the problem was we all knew that if we let him sit down he would be asleep in no time. So we quite simply propped him up against a pilar & hoped for the best. The bartender ordered us to take him home when he fell over for the 3rd time.

British Airways was always good fun as they serve free alcohol in coach on domestic flights. Except when you board a plane to Newcastle & end up 120 miles away over the Scottish border in Edinburgh due to high winds. The prematch party was held on a BA coach traveling south & we made kick-off with minutes to spare that day.

I can go on recalling countless tales but Im sure you get the point, the home games are fun but away games are ... something else. When you follow a football team & immerse yourself in the supporters culture you really do gain friends for life. These people are often a huge cross section of society, united by a common love of the worlds game. I can tell you that one of the things that I was most apprehensive about when I moved to the U.S. was that I would not be able to find a substitute for this.

As you can probably guess my fears were proved unfounded when I discovered the BSG & got involved. One of the things that I didnt expect was that despite only following the Rapids for two years, I have already had the kind of adventures comparable to my time in England. Ill never forget chanting I Believe on the streetcar going to the MLS Cup Final in Toronto & the BSGs first trip to Salt Lake where we took over an entire floor of the Radisson hotel. Then of course there was Portland last year, a weekend that that was topped off by us scoring in the last minute to win the game 1-0 & silencing a stadium where Portland fans outnumbered the 80 Rapids fans by a factor of 225 to 1.

So the message is that, if you really want to truly understand what supporting the team is all about then you simply must travel away. Save that cash, schedule those family / friends visits for the weekends when the Rapids are in that particular city. Do whatever you can to make it happen.

The BSG will be doing every thing we can to assist you. Along with the other supporters groups, we have agreed 5 games we want to focus on this year. These trips are both Salt Lake games on Apr 7th & Jul 21st, Vancouver away on Jun 16th, Portland away on Aug 31st & Chivas USA away on Oct 20th. For these trips we will have hotel discounts, organize match tickets & take care of the pregame activities to ensure you have a top weekend.

That said, for all the other away games, we will arrange your match ticket & provide travel advice so that you stay safe. For most clubs, the BSG has an agreement with one of the local supporters groups so we can direct you to friendly bars & tailgates. This is done on a case by case basis & you should contact us do we can arrange this in advance.

So, wondering where to start your Rapids traveling career? Why not Salt Lake Away On Saturday April 7th...