Nineteen-thousand five hundred forty-three fans walk into a sold out Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia. 19,000 of these roudy fans are there to cheer on the home team; the Philadelphia Flyers. The other 543 fans, are traveling from out of town to watch their team, the Islanders, play in a different building, and in a completely different environment. So what is it like to be one of those 543 Islander fans?
First of all, if you are an opposing fan at a game, especially in Philadelphia, you are immediately public enemy number one. That is exactly how I felt when I got out of the car to walk into the arena. I immediately heard boos from the crazy Flyers fans, who were tailgating in the parking lot. It got better when I went down to the Islanders bench for warm ups, surrounded by the familiar faces of other Islanders fans. After warm ups, I headed up to my seats where the abuse began. I was met by booing Flyers fans saying “go home” and “go f**k yourself”. I had heard that sports fans in Philadelphia are the most abusive fans in all of sports. I didn’t believe that statement until this game I went to.
The atmosphere inside Wells Fargo Center is one hundred times different than the atmosphere at Barclays Center. First of all, it holds 4,000 more people and that building is filled every game. And each fan is into the game, even in the last row. This crowd was quiet though when Mathew Barzal scored in the first period to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead. As I stood and cheered, the Flyer fans kept saying “go back to Long Island,” which is normal. Then the tide changed when Philadelphia had a commanding 4-2 lead at the end of the second period. Walking around the concourse, Flyers fans laughed in my face and said that I sucked. Those fans are very disrespectful. As the third period went on, the referees made a horrible call against the Flyers to give the Islanders a power play which drove the fans nuts. A fan sitting next to me with his kid screamed “that was a horrible call you a****le. Why would you said that in front of your kid? Jordan Eberle capitalized on the bad call to make it 4-3. The loudest boos I have ever heard rained down from the home fans. Andrew Ladd scored to tie the game at four and the fans became restless.
Overtime began and both teams had a lot of chances. However, Nick Leddy scored the overtime winner to complete the comeback. The other Islander fans and I in our section went nuts as we cheered and scrambled out of the arena. Walking to the car, I was grilled with cursing Flyer fans, but I didn’t care, my team won in overtime and I took the three hour drive to watch it. That game was probably the best game I have been to all season and it was not even in Barclays Center. If anybody is thinking about taking a trip to Philadelphia to watch the Islanders play the Flyers, I would highly recommend it if you can stand up to some abuse from opposing fans.