I finally got to watch a local football game again after two years and it was great to be reminded how different the Cebu crowd is. Color me biased but save for the crowd from the country’s football hotbed, Cebu crowd stands out for not only being knowledgeable but for trying to get involved in the game.

The real 12th man.

Take the Central Visayas Football Association (CVFA) vs. Kaya FC-Iloilo U19 match, for example, the officials and the visiting team surely felt the crowd’s presence. I was with CVFA officials post-match and we talked about how the crowd showed its knowledge of the game by cheering not only the goal scoring chances but the great defensive moves or the nifty passes. I really love when a crowd appreciates great defensive plays.

Having seen the CCSC (Cebu City Sports Center) pitch in all conditions, from bald, to green, to pristine during the Azkals’ home matches to the usual wet and barely playable during the rainy season, you could also hear a vocal reaction whenever the visiting team’s passing play was interrupted by a puddle or a muddy section of the pitch.

Members of the Cebu Football Club were there and I’m sure they could envision a crowd like that in their home matches. Their stadium can host as many as 500 and the crowd during the CVFA vs Kaya match was at least thrice that.

And mind you, all of them paid at least P15 to get in, and those who brought their cars had to shell out an additional P20. I’m mentioning that because the previous reiteration of the PFL (Philippine Football League) learned that paying to watch a football match was an alien experience for Pinoy fans.

I guess it helped that all Cebuanos know that whenever they have to go to the CCSC, they have to pay P15, and P35 if they have a car. That practice translated to the then Cebu Football Association announcing the pricier P200 tickets, not the general admission seats, sold out first during Global Cebu’s home matches.

But, a warning to the Cebu Football Club, the home crowd won’t hesitate to turn on you if they think you deserve it. Global Cebu learned this. I will never forget the date and the game, it was Nov. 28, 2017, against Ceres Negros. We were supposed to hold our SunStar Cup two days before that match and everyone in the crowd knew it. Two weeks before our event, the coordinator for Global Cebu asked that we cancel it, it was him and not the PFL who got in touch.

So we did. It wouldn’t be nice to have a field divided into four mini pitches for a PFL game. All the players, coaches and officials too had to revise their schedules because of the change. But our efforts weren’t rewarded as Global and Ceres, both assured of a semis spot by then, played it safe and instead of a match between rivals, the home crowd was treated to a glorified training session.

Late in the first half, when it was obvious that neither team would take any risk, a large section of the crowd started booing both teams and I joined in. We surely didn’t deserve that.