Article by Matthew Green
Football is one of the most internationally recognized sports with grand followings all over Europe, south America and Asia, claiming the crown for the largest global viewership for any sporting event. As a Brit, I understand the importance of football and how it can unite cities and countries alike. But how about having that sense of community in a country where football, and sports in general, don’t have that same level of attendance that may be seen in Old Trafford, Anfield or Bramall Lane (wink wink)? Well, although the numbers aren’t there, that doesn’t mean the passion isn’t.
The Shaanxi Chang’an Athletic Football Club have existed for the short time of 4 years, however if you’re on the street, you’re bound to see a car donning the club’s badge. During their short existence, they have managed to win one Provincial Super League and have a standing in at the middle of the second table in the CFA’s Super League- which has been an uphill climb from league four. As the years have gone on, the supporter numbers have gone up to about 20,000 and shows signs of continuing to grow.
In 2017, I found a fellow football fan who was an avid Shaanxi Chang’an fan and was invited along to the game. The game wasn’t the most exciting, and it felt like a mid-week game. To be honest, I can’t even remember the other team they were playing, but it didn’t matter. The crowd, though small for the stadium, was electric and even though my Chinese is limited, the chant’s soon caught on with the roaring drum from the back of the crowd. The only goal scored was luckily by Shaanxi and the crowd went wild- just like at home. It was great to feel part of that community again- a paradise lost in the many years since I came here. Everything was familiar; shouting at the ref, sarcastic claps, and the general ups and downs of the match- but no pukka pie, sorry. An experience I’d suggest to anyone who finds themselves shouting at the TV on a weekly basis during the Premiership season.
So, how do you get involved? Well, having caught the Shaanxi Wolves bug, I made my way down to the stadium to get this season’s new shirt (which can be purchased only from the Li-Ning store on the west side of the stadium) and spoke to a few people down there. As some may know the stadium has taken a minor overhaul this past year, and therefore the team have been playing in WeiNan, but they’re back next season which means transport to matches is easy due to the multiple bus routes and subway right outside. Once you’re at the stadium just go to the ticket office at the main gate and grab your ticket.
With the drama in the world right now, this season has been postponed until July, and then it will still be played in WeiNan, but the next season thereafter is due to begin in February 2021 and back at the real home of Shaanxi. Games are a 3PM Kick off in winter and 7:30PM kick off in summer, with all matches free on PPTV. If you want to be a true diehard fan season tickets are available for less than 500 RMB and include free access to all away games (travel not included). If you just want to show you’re love for Shaanxi, grab a shirt or a sticker for your bike- but expect to get stopped and say “Shaanxi JiaYou” to our cohorts!