The faces of more than 70 young men and boys bore down on the crowd of thousands outside Al Ahly's training complex in Cairo.
As many as 15,000 members of the Ahlawy, the organized ultras fan group of Egypt's most popular soccer club, had gathered here early for the news they, and the country, had been waiting almost a year to hear.
At 10am a judge was to deliver a verdict on one of the darkest moments in the history of the game.
It happened on February 1, 2012, when more than 70 -- those young men and boys who's faces now appear on a billboard high above the entrance of the club -- lost their lives after a match in the Mediterranean city of Port Said, against local club Al Masry.
Most of the dead were crushed when the Al Masry fans stormed the pitch.
The players sprinted for their lives, finding sanctuary in the dressing room. And then the floodlights went out.
When the lights came back on 10 minutes later, the dead lay piled in a tunnel, in front of a locked, metal gate that had prevented escape before it collapsed under the weight of bodies.
Seventy-three people were arrested, many accused of murder. They were mostly Al Masry fans, but included several members of the security forces.
The man allegedly responsible for cutting the power to the lights was also arrested. The Ahlawy suspected that a hidden hand was at work.
There were conspiracy theories, many asked questions: was this just a football rivalry gone very wrong? Or did police allow the violence as payback against the ultras for their part in the revolution?
The Ahlawy had played a crucial role in the revolution. They were an organized group of tens of the thousands of young men willing to fight the police -- as they had both inside and out of Egypt's soccer stadiums for the previous four years --to make their voices heard.
The authorities denied any collusion. It was a tragic accident, they said. Hooliganism and ineptitude, no more, no less, no hidden hand.
But many of the Ahlawy fans were not convinced. The soccer league was canceled and the Ahlawy waged a successful direct action campaign to prevent the start of the league until justice had been served.
The young men waited for the verdict on Saturday. Several had come armed, in anticipation of a further postponement or, worst still, a not guilty verdict. Some carried clubs, others homemade pistols and double barreled sawn off shot guns.
At 10am the judge rose on national television and delivered his verdict. Twenty-one of the accused were sentenced to death. The verdicts for the remaining defendants are expected March 9.
The news swept through the crowd, reducing those in its path to tears of joy; teenagers who had lost friends, mothers who had lost sons, wives who had lost husbands.
"It's a very good decision by the court," said Mihai, a member of the Ahlawy who had come to hear the verdict. As with all members of the Ahlawy, he declined to give his last name.
The guns that had been brought in anticipation of violence were fired into the sky in celebration.
One fan fired an automatic pistol until it jammed. He inspected the piece of failing, unfamiliar equipment. Unable to fix it, he tucked it into his belt and jumped into the sea of celebrating men.
"We hope it will be a perfect ending for this story. We have been waiting for this for so long. For 21 to get executed is a very good decision. So now we wait for the police decision. For sure it wasn't just them that made this," Mihai said.
Back in February, with the raw memories of Port Said just a few weeks old, the Ahlawy had demanded that those responsible should be put to death.
With the court verdict, they received their wish. Justice, they believed, had been served. At least partially.
"The police will be [put to] trial on March 9," said Mohamed, a founding member of the Ahlawy.
The previous night -- on the Egyptian revolution's anniversary -- Cairo was blanketed in tear gas as protesters roamed the streets surrounding Tahrir Square, venting their anger at President Mohamed Morsy and what they see as a lack of any real reforms.
Many, including the Ahlawy, expected further confrontations after the verdict.
But as the crowd moved inside the complex, holding a rally on the club's main soccer pitch, it became clear that no fighting would take place that day.
"I feel satisfied that some of those who committed what we suffered a year ago are going to face what they deserve," said Ahmed, another founding member of the Ahlawy who believed that the right decision had been made.
"It's a strong verdict but they don't deserve less than a strong verdict. Nobody ever wants to see someone dying but when someone kills he deserves a death sentence. He deserves that his life is taken. I don't see a way the police can get away with this."
Port Said ignited
Not everyone was happy, especially those who saw the verdict as a potential springboard to challenge Morsy, whom many of the Ahlawy view as no different from Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian dictator who ruled the country for almost 30 years.
"They are giving us something of a painkiller to take out the anger from the young lads, for me it is not enough," said Hassan, an Ahly fan standing on the training ground pitch.
"All the other political movements and parties were looking at what was going to happen today. Everyone had their hopes for the ultras and now they have given us this pain killer and it has lost its momentum of something really happening against the new regime," he added.
But what had -- if only temporarily -- calmed the Ahlawy ignited Port Said.
The verdicts were greeted with astonishment, disbelief, and anger by Al Masry's fans and the families of the 73 accused who had gathered outside the prison in Port Said where the suspects were held.
Like the Ahlawy supporters in Cairo, they too had come prepared. Two policemen were shot dead as the relatives tried to storm the prison. The police fired back. At least 30 people were killed in clashes. Among them was a former Al Masry player.
President Morsy addressed the nation and announced a 30-day curfew, from 9pm until 6am in the cities worst effected by the violence.
A few hours before the first curfew was due to fall, a storm rolled into Port Said. The streets were empty, the skies dark and pregnant with rain as 9pm approached.
The only sound was the faint, periodic burst of gunfire. It emanated from near the Al Arab police station by the sea.