2010 World Cup Semifinal.
Scootering to the Market on Tuesday on Pacific Ave, I spotted a place on the corner of Mason with a Spanish flag hanging in the doorway, on the hill, just above North Beach. A sign with a World Cup logo said, “WATCH IT HERE.”
On the way home, I stopped and checked it out: La Lola, Tapas Bar. I’d been wanting to watch the Spain, Germany semifinal at just the right bar, but was clueless about where. This looked like the place. At a bar in Vancouver where we watched the Europe Cup final in 2008 I scored an Espana scarf. I got it out of the closet and was good to go.
Wednesday morning: Game at 11:30, doors at 11. I got there about 10 past 11, a small place seating about 30 including 10 at the bar. The door is off Mason and big floor to ceiling windows look out on Mason and Pacific. There were no chairs, only square wooden stools with no backs. The one TV – hardly bigger than ours – was over the door and I was seated by the window… had to crane my neck to see it. Not the comfort of my living room.
There were about 10 people in La Lola when I arrived. I thought, hmmm, a low key place to watch the game. I ordered a jamon serrano sandwich and a Stella. About 20 past, people started streaming in. Groups of two, three and four filled all available stools and brought chairs in from outside. By game time it was standing room only; the place was packed, many wearing Spain soccer gear.
As the game progressed, Spain was clearly the dominant offensive team, but they couldn’t seem to get good shots on goal. With each Spain attack the crowd would react with cheers of encouragement and groans when a shot went wide or high. At the half, it was 0 – 0.
At half-time a few people went out to smoke – mostly women – and the waiters played Spanish futbol songs… don’t know the title or words, but the chorus was *Viva Easpana.* Those who knew the words sang with great joy, the rest of us joined the Viva Espana chorus. I went outside to take a picture… the first time since being seated that I could move.
From the 65th minute of the second half, Spain made a succession of failed attacks, then at the 73rd minute, scored. Our little bar went berserk with overlapping shouts of GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL. Seventeen minutes to go and Spain, rather than play kill-the-clock, made several attacks and counterattacks, all the while keeping the ball away from German feet. The game ended with no more scoring and La Lola erupted in song and dance and general jumping around hilarity.
What a fantastic experience. Even though I went alone, I wasn’t alone for long.
Sunday, for the World Cup Final: Netherlands v. Spain, I chose to watch at home, alone. I invited a few folks over, but too late. While I loved the energy of La Lola, for the final I wanted to really watch the game and pay attention to the commentary – in English. As you know by now, Spain won in the 116th minute. The game was ugly, but Spain prevailed, as I predicted they would on our Rector pool. Viva Espana.