After Super September, my patience was tested. I had to wait until the start of November before I could hit the stands again. But it was worth waiting for. It promised to be an amazing closure of 2017. I could cross off several long listed items of my bucket list. It brought from the East to the West!
Frenchies on Fire
To be honest, France is not my favourite country to visit. Despite that, Derby Rhônalphin was on my list for a long already. Especially because of the Saint-Etienne fanatics. Every time they show amazing support, beautiful tifo and crazy pyro. I had to experience that for myself at least once no mather what. I was even that crazy to drive almost a thousand kilometres all by myself. Arriving Sunday afternoon, derby in the evening and than driving the same distance back Sunday night to be able to be back in time for work on Monday.
I was completely destroyed, I hardly had any sleep. But it was completely worth it. Would I do it again? Definitely. I had the time of my life. I gained more and more respect. Despite Lyon completely destroyed their rivals, they kept on supporting the team even when they were 4-0 behind. After 5-0 and further provocation by Lyon side, the bomb exploded. A crazy pitch invasion followed which delayed my return with more than half an hour. Still totaly worth it!
Sarajevo has become almost my second home in the last couple of years. This was already my fifth visit in almost 1,5 years time. I was ready for my fourth derby. The first few days were good. Not warm, but dry and a bit sunny. Fine weather for a good derby day. I had a premium spot on top of the main stand. A good view for some pyro passion. Sadly enought I got more than that.
During the warming up it started snowing. A little bit became more and more. It gave Grbavica stadium rapidly a white cold coat. There was a lot of discussion going on at the side line. They were not ready for this. They even had to spray paint the white ball orange (!!), because there were no official orange balls. Only at the Balkans, love it. Despite the effort, the game got cancelled for that day. Rematch on Monday afternoon (they day after), but I was not able to be there, because I had to catch my flight back home. No fourth derby, but I got some action on the stands.
Not planned for 2017, but when I friend asked me to join two months earlier I couldn’t resist the temptation. Luckily my girlfriend told me to go as flights were very cheap. Happy that I did. Moscow is a great city, even without the football. So much to offer, a weekend visit is far from enough. We were warmed up by Dynamo Moscow playing Anzhi. Shame to see this former top club not able to go regain the former glory.
Sunday, derby day. The subway was packed going to the stadium. An crazy amount of police around the stadium. Serious business. Despite the modern stadium, the atmosphere inside was just mental. Crazy scenes all match long. Several tifo, pyro on both sides and the home crowd able to celebrate a 3-0 victory over their rivals. Despite the cold (minus 10 degrees) it was football passion all the way. Loved it and I will definitely go back to Moscow for some more Moscow Madness.
Belfast owns a diamond, simple as that. And as long as it is still there, we need to cherish it! I am talking about The Oval, the stadium of Glentoran FC. For a long time already there are plans to rebuild the stadium to something new. But the lack of money prevents people from actually doing it. Personally I am stoked that the old stadium is still there. It is a beauty.
Walking inside The Oval is like walking into history with the stadium coming from 1892 and its current Grand Stand is from 1953. It hardly changed over the years. Both at the inside as on the outside. This pure football history, a holy ground for football romanticists. Let anyone name a top-10 most beautiful stadiums in the world, big chance The Oval is mentioned.
Luckily for me I got a bonus that I got a very perfect Christmas visiting this magnificent ground. A derby day, with typical UK passion on the terraces and Glentoran beating their rivals at stoppage time. It was an amazing day which was breading football culture in every way. It exceeded all my expectations. I am already aiming to go back to enjoy The Oval again, because before you know it, its gone!
Special thanks goes out to my girlfriend, who had to spent Christmas on her own to give me the opportunity to follow my dreams. That is simply amazing, a God’s gift. Love you!