So yesterday I was invited uptown(ish) to see my local ice hockey team, the rather wonderfully named SKA (СКА), and as you can see from this picture we had ring-side (rink-side?) seats, and all for the princely sum of £5.25 a pop… Doncha just love Russia!
Ice hockey is a bit like slippery golf with bigger holes (it’s a bit faster but that’s essentially it), and like golf it can get a little bit boring to watch… or at least that’s what the DJ seemed to think, because he couldn’t let the action flow for more than a couple of minutes without whacking on a tune.
Actually, he only managed to play about 20 seconds of each song before drifting back to the match, so perhaps it was more that the DJ suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder than that the match was dull.
Apparently it was (and to me it certainly seemed) a good game (though I am informed that sometimes you can be glad of the ADDJ), and by the end even cynical me was chanting along with the drum(-te-tum tum-tum) “SKA!” And although we frittered away a 3 – 1 lead to end normal play at 3 – all, I like to think my chanting did what was required because we slotted home a golden goal (?) within the first minute or so of extra time, causing the entire stadium to erupt…
Especially these guys… about a hundred or so hardcore fans, looking slightly incongruous penned into this small section behind one of the goals. They had a drum, they had the chants, the flags. I wondered what one had to do in a stadium of over 12,000 to become one of this elite breed of SKA-heads?
Then a member of our party told me that he’d once turned up to a game without tickets and the only seats left were in this section, so perhaps it is simply down to chance and they hand out the flags and drum on your way in? Obviously you don’t get to see much of the actual match because of the huge flags, but you do get to goad the opposition fans from afar (they were packed into an even smaller section up in the gods on the opposite side of the arena).
My absolute favourite bit (of an altogether thoroughly enjoyable evenings entertainment) was this pair of dolly-birds who regularly came out to help clear the snow from the goal mouth… Well, one kinda helped and the other just brought the bucket over and skated about a bit, whilst the bloke (who for some reason needs a helmet?) did the heavy(?) shovel-work.
They are part of another elite group (actually these two must be the elite-st of the elite because they skate and the others just dance about a bit) called the SKA Sisters… A very Americanised bunch of cheer-wenches, who warrant their own (not insubstantial) section on the SKA website…
If you click on the first image at the top of this post to zoom in, you can see them standing in all of the aisles waving pom-poms and generally improving the view… You can also see the most blatantly Christmassy thing I have come across in Russia, a rabbit in a santa suit… Actually it’s a man in a rabbit suit in a santa suit, and there is another man in a dog suit in a blue santa suit, but that definitely counts!
Sadly, we aren’t currently Top Ranking, but we are third in the league and I’m sure with the play-offs looming we are still in with a shout. Altogether now… Drum-te-tum tum-tum “SKA!”