Fan Culture / Featured

Down Houston way

Guido Gaeffke was part of the group of Sons of Ben members who traveled to Houston for the first game (and win!) of the 2011 season. He also provided live reports from Robertson Stadium for the PSPs live match commentary. Now home in Philly, Guido tells us about his trip. Check out FieldofPhotgraphy, the website run by Garrett Field, a Sons of Ben Member who also traveled to Houston, for some great photos of before, during and after the game.

Each stadium in MLS has a section reserved for away supporters. The trick is to find out which ticket agent in the stadium is responsible for selling tickets for that section. One of the Sons of Ben found out who this person was and let others know on SoB’s BigSoccer forum. The funny thing was that some of us ended up buying tickets for $25, others for $17. Most of us had the tickets sent to our home address rather than picking them up in Houston.

Via the SOB Forum, we had agreed on a meeting place near the stadium. Initially, this was going to be at the Hilton bar where some of us stayed. But the bar across the street was thought to be cheaper and ended up having much better beer (which was cheap!).

We ended up meeting other SoBs who do not even live in Philly. There were two from Austin and one from Allentown, who is now a student in Houston. It was so great to meet these new faces as well as the SoBs who traveled down to Houston but who I had never met before.

In the bar we got to know each other better and also had some interesting discussions with Dynamo fans who hung out there. They mentioned that their (football) stadium seats 34,000 but that the average crowd was only half that. For the opening game is was maybe 20,000; the atmosphere would have been a lot better in a full stadium. As we speak, a new soccer specific stadium is being built for the team.

The lineup in the program wasn't the same as the lineup on the pitch. (Photo: Guido Gaeffke)

When we approached the stadium we were surprised at how much was going on. It was like a big block party with numerous stands, a big stage and lots of things to win, as was indicated by the long lines at some of the stands. It was a big difference from PPL park, where very little seems to happen around the stadium itself. The block party had a very Mexican flavor to it and most attendees seemed to be Mexican American rather than Anglos.

Our seats were high up in the corner of the stadium. So, we (about 15 of us) moved towards the field and were able to stay there and sing our songs for 20 minutes. Although a lot of folks laughed at our songs, it seems the Union bench across the field could hear us, at least according to the girlfriend of one of the players.

Security soon came and sent us back to our “seats,” which were not really seats, just long aluminum benched with numbers stamped on the back. We continued to sing in our designated area but the songs did not have the same impact because we were too far removed from the bulk of the spectators.

Still, our seats were along a wall below which the Union team had to walk to get to their lockers at half time and after the game. We could therefore wish them luck and cheered them on. Danny Califf was so impressed after the game that he threw his shirt to us and one of us caught it!

The Dynamo had three supporters groups spread throughout the stadium but they did not sing one song. Rather, they supported the team—and competed against each other—with drums and trumpets!

The trip ended up costing very little for me since I stayed at friends ($250 for plane trip, $17 per day for the car and $25 for the ticket).  It was well worth it for an experience with the Union on the road.

Based on their reactions when they walked towards their locker room I believe the players (and coach) really appreciated having us there. Traveling to away games is something more of us should do if we want to help the Union to have more wins on the road!!!


  1. We watched at KILDARES in MANAYUNK and when the camera panned to the SOBS in Houston the place went NUTS. DOOP.

  2. phillyhotspur says:

    Impressive showing and way to ride the white dragon to a dubs in Houston. I was at the 700 club and we did catch your group on the telly. Geeeeeeeet Some baby

  3. Wish the Match Day Live had to philly feed so I could see them showing us.

    I was at the stadium as well and to be honest the atmosphere was pathetic. I can’t decide what’s worse. A stadium empty but with a few passionate fan or a stadium decently full with no one really singing or cheering.

    Also Peter Nowak came over after the game and press conferences and we gathered kinda near the team bus and he came over to shake all the supporters hands and talk to us for a few minutes and thank us which was really cool. Some players signed autographs and took pictures. Tons of houston fan’s waited to get Ruiz’s autograph though which was very interesting.

    Had a great time and can’t wait to go to the game in Dallas!

  4. big crowd at oakmont pub with a big roar when you guys got face time … way to represent!

  5. Thanks for sharing the details of your trip and the great pictures! It is great to hear and see details of how the other half live 🙂 DOOP!

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