Moncton's debut on World Cup stage underwhelms writers
Opening games played in barely half-full stadium under threatening skies
Moncton's fans are more subdued than soccer writer John Doyle is used to seeing at world-class soccer events.
"To be honest there was not a World Cup buzz in Moncton right now," said Doyle, who is a television columnist with the Globe and Mail and a huge soccer fan who was in the city for Tuesday's two games in the FIFA Women's World Cup.
"You see evidence there is a tournament here but I don't think the place is — the city and the area is — gripped by the tournament," said Doyle.
"That might improve and I hope it does," said Doyle, who authored The World is a Ball: The Joy, Madness, and Meaning of Soccer.
Doyle wasn't the only one underwhelmed by Moncton's response to being on the international soccer stage.
"A 13,000 sellout had been predicted but the ground looked barely half-full with locals largely opting to stay away," wrote London's Guardian newspaper in its account of England's 1-0 loss to France.
"This bilingual city in the eastern 'Maritime' Canadian province of New Brunswick had appeared the ideal venue for these teams but with dark rain clouds hovering in the humid skies and a capricious wind blowing, the residents of the French speaking suburb of Dieppe and English speaking Riverview had evidently decided to stay indoors."
Attendance was stated to be 11,686.
Darren Blois attended the game and agrees the locals were a bit subdued.
But he says there was no lack of enthusiasm from the crowd.
"What was great was all the visitors, we had people around us from Columbia and Paris … they added all the atmosphere you'd want."
Colombia played Mexico in the other match Tuesday, with the teams drawing 1-1.
Blois was one of those frustrated at the time it took to gain entry to the stadium for the France-England game with many ticket holders unable to see the start of the game.
Blois says the lines was 400 metres long and moving slowly.
"Eventually a staff member came and diverted us around the back," he said. "They were sending old people, everybody who had a ticket … they were sending down this goat track to get to the stadium, it was really not up to standard."
At the back of the stadium, Blois said he was met with another 400 metre line-up.
He missed about 10 minutes of the game, but things were looking up by the time he found his seat.
"We got over it really quickly and got into the game and really enjoyed ourselves."
But he said he hopes organizers can get people into the stadium faster for the remaining matches.
The next games in Moncton are on Saturday when France will play Colombia at 2 p.m. and England takes on Mexico at 5 p.m.