Rodina Moscow v Kolomna, Sunday 6th September 2020, 3pm

The upper structure of the leagues in Russia is similar to that of Spain in that there is a top division, then a second, followed by a third tier consisting of four divisions. Below that are some lower leagues that I’ve no idea yet of how or even if they feed into the system.

This game was my first in the Russian third tier, known as the Professional Football League. Rodina is a new club, or at least a new club to the professional game. It looks like they existed solely for youth teams up until a couple of years ago. Their home ground, Yantar Stadium, is up in the north east of Moscow and too far from me to walk so I took the Metro. This involved an hour’s travelling and two changes of line. You tap in with a card and the journey each way cost me forty rubles or, at the current exchange rate, forty pence.

Moscow is renowned for having fancy subway stations and whilst Kievskiya was probably the best of the ones that I passed through with lots of marble, ornate plasterwork and fancy lights, all of them had some impressive features.

I hadn’t ridden the subway since March and was curious as to what Covid measures would be in place. Every second and sometimes third seat had a not to be used sticker, but once the available seats had been taken passengers just sat on the others. I’d say around a third of the travellers were wearing face masks, but maybe a third of those were failing to cover both their mouth and nose with them.

On leaving Strogino Metro station I followed the map and before long the Yantar Stadium floodlights came into view. The ground is alongside the river and overlooked by a hill, so I was hopeful that even if Covid restrictions meant that spectators were excluded from the lower leagues I’d be able to find an external vantage point somewhere. As I approached I spotted someone making their way through the entrance gate and pausing after being told to put on a mask.

It was free to get in, although somewhat pointlessly we were each given a ticket. My bag was searched and I was patted down. The fella coming in before me had his opened bottle of water sniffed by a steward, presumably to check that it wasn’t neat vodka. The only area open was the seating on the tunnel side and even then I think it was only the seats to the left of the tunnel. Two out of every three seats were taped off and as I was early enough to have a decent choice I selected one in the fifth and back row.

The teams and officials were warming up and the ref and linesmen were worth watching. They pretended that a game was going on and simulated the actions that they’d have to take. The linos made their way sideways along the touchline, varying their speed and peering across at an imaginary last defender before flagging for an offside. The ref was running the diagonal, clearly keeping up with some scenario that existed only in his head before playing advantage or signaling for free kicks. He kept his cards in his pocket, possibly recognizing that he was being watched and surmising that brandishing a yellow at that stage might easily be misconstrued.

I’d have been happy to have seen him produce a red card for whoever was playing the pre-match music at ear-splitting volume. Some song that rhymed ‘taking off her blouses’ with ‘taking off my trousers’ made me glad that I’m of an age where going to nightclubs and having to listen to other people’s noise is a distant memory. In days where anyone can listen privately to whatever they like at any time it’s baffling that I’m subjected to that utter shite when I want to watch a game of football.

The match kicked-off with me having no idea which team was which. One of the sides was kitted out in light blue, the other in dark blue. Perhaps they planned a boat race. The goalie for the dark blues must have spent a good ten seconds crossing himself before kick-off. I’m not really sure what people expect from their god, but you’d think that influencing the outcome of a lower level football game would currently be way down any list of divine priorities.

There were four young lads to my left who were happy to stand and chant their support. Every now and then they would do something that sounded like monkey chanting. I don’t think that it had any racist connotations as they would do it whenever play broke down rather than aiming it at any particular player. Besides, I hadn’t noticed any non-white players. It will be interesting to see if there are any similar chants at other games.

Half an hour in the light blues had a two on one break. The fella without the ball was screaming for the pass but the lad in possession ignored him and placed his shot across the keeper for the opening goal. A quick check of the scoreboard confirmed that the light blues were the home side, Rodina.

The goal spurred Kolomna into a quick response and within five minutes they had been awarded a penalty. The home keeper looked the part in his all black strip, but he lost a little credibility by pretending to knock the mud from his boots on one of the posts. Maybe he forgot that it was an artificial pitch. Nevertheless, his routine paid off and diving to his left he kept the shot out.

As the first half drew to a close I noticed a bloke in a pair of Speedo’s watching the game from the grassy bank beyond the opposite fence. It’s still reasonably warm in Moscow but he did seem underdressed, even if he wasn’t too far from the river.

I was equally surprised to see the fella a couple of seats along from me scoffing a packet of toasted bread crusts, presumably a by-product of those crustless loaves that small children or people short of teeth like to eat. It just shows that there’s a buyer for just about everything if you market it right.

Kolomna got their equalizer twenty minutes into the second half when a shot, or more likely a cross, from out on the right eluded everyone on its way into the top corner. There was plenty of cheering from the people around me so whilst I’ve no idea where Kolomna is, they had decent support among the hundred or so spectators in attendance. We briefly had a chanting battle between a family with a toddler to my right and the four young lads to my left.

The family joy didn’t last as Rodina promptly regained the lead with a penalty that caused their youngest to throw a tantrum entirely appropriate to his age. His mood darkened further as his side fell another goal behind ten minutes later. There were good chances for both sides in the  final moments before the visitors switched off in injury time and Rodina added a fourth.

The final score line didn’t really reflect a game that could have gone either way at one each and a quarter of an hour to go, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I made my way out whilst most of the hundred or so crowd hung around to clap their teams off.

Tags: , , ,

2 Responses to “Rodina Moscow v Kolomna, Sunday 6th September 2020, 3pm”

  1. playfortoday Says:

    10/10 for blokeinspeedos tag 😊

  2. onthetrailofthelionking Says:

    I suspect it will be responsible for more views than either of the team names.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: