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Opening Night at Claddagh

March 23, 2009

Claddagh really rolled out the welcome mat to become the Crew Away Game Headquarters. My wife and I arrived about two hours before game time and tables were already in short supply. We grabbed a couple of seats in the front near the bar and watched as the place slowly filled up.

By an hour and a half to game time, there was hardly a seat left. My friend caught the last seat at our table after finding out that all of the other tables had already been taken. Excited Crew fans came early to get a good spot to watch the game. The staff at Claddagh helpfully showed some of the top games of the day. The early arrivers were able to catch a replay of Fulham’s upset of Manchester United or Catania’s victory over Lazio.

As more fans poured into the bar, some started chants. The whole bar erupted into song as the pregame show cut to Crew players like Schelotto, Rogers, or Hesmer. A crowd as big as I have ever seen for a Crew event was prepared to kick off the season.

By game time, it was standing room only. The servers were darting around. My wife and I never lacked for a beer, as our bill could prove. Everyone was following intently as the Crew pressured Houston and then cheered as Marshall scored what looked to be the first goal of the year. It took a full minute for many to realize it had been waved off.

It took another hour, but the Crew would give the faithful at Claddagh something to cheer about. With Schelotto’s goal, everyone was jumping around, high fiving, and screaming. My ears did not stop ringing for hours. Once the Crew held on for the win tie, the bar emptied, but my impression that the Crew really have developed a stronger following than any I can remember will remain with me for a while.

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