SPbGUPTD St. Petersburg v Druzhba Krasnoye Selo, Saturday 3rd July 2021, 1pm

I think that you can generally divide people into two categories, those who will seek out the sun and those who will seek out the shade. Jen and I are in the latter group, but despite that regularly seem to find ourselves a shade of lobster red.

As the temperatures in St. Petersburg were in the thirties and there was barely a cloud in the sky our plan for this day had been to travel by taxi to the Peter the Great Museum, marvel at the two-headed calf, take another taxi back to our hotel, have some lunch nearby and then do the same for getting to and from the match, a sixth tier game around a fifteen minute drive away. Not much chance of a tan in those circumstances. Or a reasonable step-count.

Plans change though and as we headed out we thought that with the museum only being half an hour away on foot we would just walk it. After all, if you stick to the shaded side of the street than it should be fine. So far so good. We made it to the museum and gawped at the skeletons, foetuses in jars and calves that can wolf down their feed twice as quickly as the rest of the herd.

On leaving the museum I mentioned to Jen that we were only about half an hour’s walk from the Baltika Stadium where the game would take place an hour and a half later. It seemed logical to walk it. What I hadn’t factored in, apart from the heat was our capacity for getting lost. I marched off in the wrong direction towards the Peter and Paul fort and fifteen minutes later we had to retrace our steps.

We eventually made it to the ground with ten minutes to go to kick-off and found shaded cover on a bench at the side of the clubhouse.

The fixture was in the sixth tier Saint Petersburg Liga 1 between SPbGUPTD St. Petersburg and Druzhba Krasnoye Selo. Once again I’ve no knowledge of the seemingly random capitalization and life is too short to find out.

Baltika stadium has a capacity of two hundred. You could fit maybe six on the bench we were on and another hundred and fifty on the uncovered seating at the half way line with perhaps twenty on some dirty seats where the view of the game was obscured by a couple of five a side goals. They were under a tree though so had some takers. I presume the remainder of the potential capacity was made up by the option of sitting on the floor and leaning back against the perimeter fence.

Despite their being room for two hundred spectators, we never got above twenty and I doubt any of those remained for the entire game. There was also a Doberman that had some problem with his ears sufficiently serious to sport a bandage on each of them. Perhaps he was just covering them up from the sun.

SPbGUPTD were in light blue shirts and dark blue shorts with Druzhba in maroon shirts and black shorts. The home side started well and were two up after eight minutes. When a free-kick was curled into the top corner to make it three after twenty minutes it looked as if a rout could be on the cards. Druzhba managed to avoid conceding any more by half-time and as at that point we had lost our shade we moved to the far end of the ground and sat on a raised manhole that had some trees above it to avoid the sun.

In the second half SPbGUPTD quickly added two more before the visitors pulled one back. The scorer, bless him, didn’t celebrate but instead grabbed the ball and sprinted back to the centre circle. We only need five to win lads.

There might have been another goal or two but I got distracted by trying to hand feed a pigeon with cheesecake crumbs. He wasn’t quite brave enough to feed from my hand but ended up with everything anyway in the end.

With the bird fed and the Earth rotated sufficiently for us to be out of the shade once more we headed off with ten minutes to go. I haven’t checked the eventual score but I can confirm that both of us were a lot redder than we’d have preferred to be.

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