The Calm Before The Storm
BSK Borča 0-4 Vojvodina (26:11:11)
It's the morning of The Eternal Derby in Belgrade. Before living and breathing that dream fixture, Ken Morton and friends took in a match in relatively serene surroundings...
The Luton Ibis is far from glamorous but the prospect of a big European derby made it slightly easier to rise from my slumber. It was 05:30 and myself and EFW newbie Chris Sobey smartly made our way to Luton airport for our Wizz Air flight to the Nikola Tesla airport in Belgrade. I had travelled down from Aberdeen the night before and our heads were still slightly dull following quite a few beers in the hotel bar. But we were off to see the ‘Eternal Derby’ between Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade; no better hangover cure I thought.
We entered the airport and our excitement was turned to nervousness as we saw the queue of around 500 people waiting to go through security at the airport; the result being a 45 minute wait and then a quick dash to the departure gate. Sweating, due to the sprint to gate 18, as we took our seats we were greeted by a very attractive stewardesses. As we took off I explained to Chris what he was about to experience and the current situation around the Grobari where infighting had led to a split. I explained that there was a risk of trouble and the city was on high alert. All this talking meant thirsty throats and we necked a few beers before touching down on Serbian soil.
Hello operator, could you get me Kenny Legg and Danny Last on the line please. We need to arrange two plane tickets to Belgrade. Quick. Sharp.
We were greeted by a low-lying fog, which was to be prevalent throughout our trip. Sometimes it is difficult not to pre-judge, but I suppose it added to the mystique of this previous war torn country. We met Gannin’ Away’s Andy Hudson on board the waiting shuttle bus that whisked us off to Slavija Square in the centre of the city. Wow…it was cold and damp, and you would think I would be used to it living in Aberdeen! Chris and I were staying at a hotel close to both stadiums called the Villa Senjak so we decided to meet Andy later. Passing bombed out buildings, cracked pavements and old Fiat cars we finally made it and agreed to meet up later to travel back into the centre.
Andy had arranged tickets for the game through his Serbian contact so the venue to meet was the Three Carrots Irish pub. 2 derby tickets, 13 plus pints, 6 shots and 2 kebabs later, myself and Chris stumbled around the fog-strewn streets at 4am trying to remember where the hotel was. The high alcohol intake wasn’t intentional, but sitting in the back room of a bar with both Red Star and Partizan fans, we found that as soon as our beers were almost finished, another would magically appear on the table in front of us, joined by a shot.
Waking up, face down eating my pillow, I wondered if the morning fog outside was ticker than the one inside my head, but I didn’t have much time to think as we were off to the Three Carrots to meet Andy and his Serbian contact Nenad for midday. We all jumped into a taxi to the first game of the day…BSK Borča were at home to Vojvodina. Our taxi took us to a small suburb of Belgrade and the 3000 capacity Borča Stadion to be exact. BSK were formed in 1937 and are traditionally a lower league team but won promotion to the Serbian Superliga in 2009. Vojvodina, on the other hand, are a more experienced team having been regular competitors in European competitions. The stadium consists of two uncovered terraces running length side of the pitch, an open end behind one goal, a fire engine in the corner and a complex that consists of clubrooms and restaurant behind the other goal.
We're BSK Borča, we do what we want...
We were slightly late for kick off and missed the first goal but it soon became clear that the home side were severely lacking in skill and Vojvodina unsurprisingly added another before half time. Hair of the dog or a rest from the biting cold? You decide but a break from standing on ice by having a pint and a pizza in the adjoining restaurant at half time made us all feel a bit more energetic. Upon reaching the terraces again for the second half, delayed because the electricity was too weak to quickly cook the pizza, we saw the game was now 4-0 to Vojvodina! I’ve never been to a game with four goals and missed three before so that’s a first for me – yet Chris missed all four. The remainder of the game was spent watching the Ultras of Borča (10 adults and 15 kids) enthusiastically sing such well known hits like BORČA CHAMPIONS, BORČA CHAMPIONS or the classic SIT DOWN IF YOU LOVE BORČA! Their efforts was pale in comparison to the slightly larger and noisier away support who bounced relentlessly up and down in true Balkans style.
13 pints and 6 shots please bartender
Ken Morton is site editor of http://www.mvv-schotland.com/ which as well as documenting his love for MVV Maastricht also covers Project 50 – Ken’s attempt to visit each of the top 50 derbies in world football. He can be found on Twitter at @mvvschotland
Tomorrow on EFW: Andy Hudson on Crvena Zvezda v Partizan Belgrade. Expect fireworks.