Krasnogvardeets Moscow v Sokol Moscow, Tuesday 25th May 2021, 7pm

I give my Mam a daily video call and the most convenient time on this day was at half-time in the match we were at. After I’d shown her everything around me on my phone she remarked that we were the only people there. That wasn’t really true, it was more that we were the only ones who hadn’t nipped outside for a smoke before the second half. On learning that it was a fifth-tier game she then told me that I must have ‘football on the brain.’ She may have a point.

We do get up to other stuff but as this is a sporting blog it only tends to get a mention if it happens on the way to the game. A couple of days earlier we had been to the Bolshoi Theatre to watch an opera and that’s something that is probably worth clumsily shoe-horning in to this post to show that my life is not all games of little consequence to anyone other than those on the pitch.

The Bolshoi Theatre is not too far from the Red Square area and is an impressive looking building. So impressive that I forgot to take a photo. Fortunately it appears on the Russian equivalent of a pound note and so I’ve taken a photo of that instead.

I suppose going to the Bolshoi is one of those tick-off activities that anyone spending time in Moscow ends up doing. I’ve never seen ballet or opera before and so it’s reasonable to conclude that it was the occasion and the location that tempted me rather than the performance.

I’d booked thirty-five quid tickets in a balcony along the side a few weeks previously. At not far from the stage and in the third level of five they seemed the best balance of price and view. If we had wanted to sit in the stalls it would have been a hundred and fifty quid which struck me as being only for those with ‘opera on the brain’.

We had a good view of the orchestra which we wouldn’t have had from the floor level and I enjoyed watching them warm up. Some of the more conscientious musicians were already there as we took our seats fifteen minutes before kick-off but others rocked up much nearer the time, one or two of them arriving just before the lights dimmed to exchange fist-bumps and snap open their violin cases as the show began.

The opera was Salome, famous for the dance of the seven veils and considered shocking back in the day. Whilst I’m not easily shockable I was surprised to see one of the children who played Salome wandering around the stage with the severed head of John the Baptist. She didn’t look more than five years old.

Anyway, that’s the culture done. Back to the tier-five game in the Moscow B League.

The match between Krasnogvardeets and Sokol was taking place at the Stadion Borisovskiye Prudy and not the nearby Borisovskiye Prudy Sports Complex. That was a shame as it was the Sports Complex that I’d mistakenly entered into the Yandex taxi app and where were dropped off a couple of minutes after seven.

Thankfully we were able to follow the directions on my phone and find the correct location albeit at the cost of missing much of the first half.

Krasnogvardeets, in maroon, were a goal to the good when we arrived and took seats in the single seated area along one side. The ground has a capacity of just over three hundred but with only around forty people in attendance there was plenty of room.

The general standard of play was decent but, as ever, it was the finishing that let the sides down. Sokol, in white, managed to bring themselves level just before the break though with a close-range header from a corner.

In the second half both sides created good opportunities but some astonishing misses warranting John the Baptist consequences were combined with two keepers at the top of their games. It meant that a fixture that could easily have gone either way finished up at one apiece.

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