All Boys v. Colon de Santa Fe

Last Saturday I went to the Estadio Islas Malvinas, to watch CA All Boys (pronounced Al-bo by local supporters) play against Colon de Santa Fe. All Boys was founded 99 years ago in the barrio of Floresta and to this day continues to be one of the many small, but locally supported clubs in Buenos Aires. Most of the supporters live within walking distance of the stadium, which is built within the heart of the residential neighbourhood. Standing in the popular section, on the edge, many of the supporters where fathers with their children, couples, and older men; a 'family' crowd and as some of the supporters told me, "un club muy tranquilo".

Nevertheless All Boys has a fair sized and dedicated hinchada called "La Peste Blanca" (the white plague) known for the creativity of their songs. Unfortunately, standing to the far side of the hinchada, I missed out on most of their energy. The Estadio Islas Malvinas does not have a local popular behind the goal instead the banda plays close to centre-half, which means that their sound and energy doesn't really fill the whole stadium. The few hundred Colon supporters could often be heard from behind the goal, despite the continuous singing of the This video shows the hinchada before All Boy's promotion into the Primera:

The match began as a openly physical -not necessarily typical of the Argentine league- back and forth match, with All Boys providing most of the offence. Colon made its chances on the counter attack. For the most part the referee made few interruptions in the play, allowing 50-50 balls to be played with bodily contact and ignoring most of the theatrical calls for fouls that dominates a lot of Argentine matches.

Juan Carlos Ferreyra benefited from a mess in front of the goal, making the half-turn volley to put All Boys up 1 - nil. Ferreyra ran towards the corner stand and we had a little fiesta. Thankfully for the match All Boys kept the pressure up and the back-and-forth flow continued... until the referee decided to make his own intervention: a red to Morel from All Boys.

I've not had a chance to review the foul but in the moment a red felt to be an over-reaction. That is from a neutral perspective. You can imagine how the local supporters reacted. The referee was instantly renamed "hijo de puta". Luckily the expulsion was close to half-time and All Boys regrouped in the dressing room.

They must have, because they put on an organized defensive show for 45 minutes. Having become accustomed to San Lorenzo's defensive collapses, I expected to see at least one goal, but through luck and hard-work All Boys kept the sheet clean. Without too much help from the referee, at least in the opinion of the local supporters, who became increasingly hostile to each call.

Emotional tension peaked by the middle of the second half when the linesman on the far side suddenly fell and curled up on the ground. Intimidating the players? From the reaction within the stands, it was obvious something had been tossed from the balconies and hit the referee. Pretty stupid of the local fan, All Boys was winning 1-0 and while their team was under a lot of pressure they were managing to hold the line. Many locals shared this opinion. A scuffle (kerfuffle?) broke out within the sparsely populated upper tribuna. The referees moved into the middle of the field and Albo players chastised the fans. Matches are often suspended for items thrown onto the field in Argentina, thankfully cooler heads prevailed, a full out brawl was averted by -I'm guessing- the removal of the offending party (and his friends) and the overall "tranquility" of the All Boys supporters. After four or five minutes the match resumed.

Maybe the silver lining was a quick rest for the All Boys, who continued to play a man down. Colon themselves warn-out were getting sloppy against the counter attack. Rodríguez lifted the tension with a goal at the 51st minute, meaning the extra-time was spent as a little party.

The result was bad news for San Lorenzo who are fighting against All Boys in the ascenso. Earlier on Friday, Olimpo, another team in the bottom won 4-1 over Belgrano.

After the match, we waited for the visitors to leave before they opened the doors and the hinchada of All Boys dispersed - relatively quietly - into the surrounding neighbourhood.

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