Friday the 14th of October I went with my friend to the New Limerick Greyhound Stadium to watch greyhound racing for the first time in my life. The new stadium in Limerick, which replaced the old racing track “The Markets Fields”, opened in October 2010 and offer many facilities for the visitors such as restaurants, bars, suites and a 500 meter racing track. The capacity of 2,900 puts the arena high up on the top rank of greyhound racing stadia in the world.
I love sports and it has always been an important part of my everyday life. As I mentioned, I’ve never been to greyhound racing but I’ve been to harness racing because a friend of mine is a driver and owns horses. I thought it would be exciting to see this new arena and feel the atmosphere of this cultural Irish sport tradition.
Now back to the evening of Friday the 14th, we actually had some problems getting to the stadium since we don’t have a car and there were no busses going to or near the arena. Of course taxi was an option but I prefer public transport because I want to support it. The best alternative now seemed to be walking four kilometers from the city centre and that’s what we did. When arriving we paid the entry which was pretty cheap for students; 5 euro. It was about 45 minutes left until the first race should take part so we sat down and had something to eat while waiting. I really liked the carpeting on the inside of the arena and felt that details are always important and it can raise the overall impression of something, which it did in this case.
After eating we went outside and found a nice spot on the stand were we had a good view of the whole track. The atmosphere was filled with tense and anxiety and in front of the track a group of men shouted loud trying to get people to bet on the dogs meanwhile they were trying to drown out the crowd.
A quarter to eight the first six dogs entered the track with their owners holding the leash. They walked pass the stand so everyone got the chance to see them before the owners putted them in the starting cages. Then a controller gave a sign that everything was set and a hare, not a real one but a lure, started to go along the side in a high speed and when passing the starting cages the doors opened, the dogs literally flew out and the crowd exploded. Seconds of excitement followed while the dogs were running around the track chasing the hare and when crossing the finish line you could feel how the crowd exhaled and felt relief, regardless if it was relief and happiness or relief and disappointment. This procedure repeated itself during all races meanwhile adults were enjoying beer, children were playing and elderly men with great knowledge in the sport had deep conversations about betting and which shape every dog were in. We had a great evening.
Linda S (11072695)