HNK Rijeka v Dinamo Zagreb, 28th July 2013, 7pm


I’m not sure if I’d been to Croatia before this trip. I went to Yugoslavia in the mid-eighties and I’ve a feeling that I might well have stayed briefly in one or more of the towns along that coast opposite Italy but I’ve no idea really. Not that it matters, it was just that some of the names and sights seemed somewhat familiar. From what I do remember, Yugoslavia wasn’t much cop in those days. The beer tasted like Ribena and the bars closed around nine in the evening. That’s not what you want when you are twenty and so on that occasion we didn’t hang around.

These days I appreciate the quiet life, even if I’m still not too enthusiastic about Ribena flavoured beer and so Jen and I were happy to stay in the countryside near Porec. As old people tend to do we had a look at some of the towns nearby such as Pula and Rovinj. One of them had a big Roman building.

Some culture for you.

Some culture for you.

We even managed a day trip across to Venice, somewhere else I hadn’t been since the mid-eighties. It seemed a lot busier than I remembered it. Isn’t everywhere though?

There’s also a hiking trail in the area, Saint Simeon’s Way, and we walked a section of that on what felt like it might have been the hottest day of the year. Ideal for a fruit based drink I’d say. Maybe it all makes sense after all.

It's a picturesque part of the world.

It’s a picturesque part of the world.

The good news is that the Croatian football season starts early and there was a game taking place at Rijeka, around eighty kilometres away from our apartment. We had to drive through a mountain range, a job made easier by the bloody big tunnel that went five kilometres through the hillside.

Stadion Kantrida

Stadion Kantrida

Rijeka has a ten thousand capacity stadium by the seaside. Handy really, as at thirty-five degrees it allowed fans the option of cooling down at the beach before the game. They’ve also got a sort of Braga-lite cliff down one side of a stadium. The only bad point is the running track that encircles the pitch.

The area around the ground was busy when we arrived and the home sections had already sold out. Fortunately we were able to pick up tickets for the Dynamo end for forty Kuna each. That‘s about five quid. As we went in we were searched by a copper who, on discovering that we weren’t concealing any weapons, advised us not to go into the away section.

“Bad, bad, bad” was his description of the visiting fans and he guided us toward the sold-out home section nearby instead.

I doubt these fella's issue many Section 27 Orders.

I doubt these fellas issue many Section 27 Notices.

Safe as our new seats were, I’d have prefered something with a little shade. There were a few blokes with the right idea behind the opposite goal. They had somehow managed to nab seats in a bar that overlooked the pitch. That’s my type of terrace.

View from behind the goal as the sun went down.

View from behind the goal as the sun went down.

Midway through the first half the game stopped for a water break. I wonder how long it will be before this becomes compulsory regardless of the heat. I find it hard to believe that the television companies and, as the money trickles down, the clubs and ultimately the players, are prepared to forgo that extra minute of advertising revenue. When the World Cup gets to Qatar I’d expect two breaks per half, probably of two minutes each.

On a less cynical note I was pleased to see bottles of water handed to the away fans. They didn’t have access to a drinks kiosk and  I imagine being “Bad, bad, bad” all day is thirsty work.

Dynamo had most of the attacking play as the half progressed but they weren’t able to make it count and went in at the interval with the game still goalless.

Rijeka fans and their flares.

Rijeka fans and their flares.

Rijeka started the second half more positively, but they too weren’t able to take their chances. On the hour, and with the sun just dipping down behind what I think were the Ukla mountains, the home flares came out. An hour. Such patience. I’m the sort of fella that lets the fireworks off on New Years Eve once I’ve had that first can of beer, even if that is at four in the afternoon. Waiting an hour at a football game shows willpower far beyond me.

Bad, bad, bad.

Bad, bad, bad.

Ten minutes later it was the turn of the away fans. As well as showing even greater patience they had also brought a lot more flares. Whereas the Rijeka fans had been content to hold their pyrotechnics, the Zagreb fans rained them down onto the pitch, or at least the ones who could clear the running track did.

I could now see why we had a fire engine standing by, with around thirty flares burning merrily away around the goalmouth.

Maybe that's why there is a running track.

Maybe that’s why there is a running track.

That was about it, action wise. The game finished nil–nil and the point consolidated the visitor’s position at the top of the table. As Dynamo had won the league in each of the previous eight seasons I don’t suppose Rijeka could be too disappointed about dropping home points.

In case the flares weren’t enough Rijeka thoughtfully provided post-match firework display for the mile long walk back to the car.

One Response to “HNK Rijeka v Dinamo Zagreb, 28th July 2013, 7pm”

  1. Quality not Quantity Says:

    Hi there, this weekend is nice for me, because this time i am reading this great educational post here at my house.

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