Bruno’s Magpies v Europa FC, Sunday 16th April 2023, 4pm

After the game in Estepona, Jen and I continued south for a further three-quarters of an hour to the Gibraltar border. I’d read up a little on the easiest way to get in and the consensus was that it was best to park on the Spanish side and walk the couple of hundred yards to the immigration and customs posts. So that’s what we did.

It was all very straightforward, although it did mean that I’d pick up four Spanish entry/exit stamps in the space of a week. At that rate my new passport will be full in a year. Once into Gibraltar, we caught a bus, notionally to the town centre, but in reality just a couple of stops to the Victoria Stadium. Jen paid the fares with a tenner that she had and was given the change in euros. All wonderfully flexible but I suspect something that is likely to boil the piss of the flagshaggers.

We had time for a traditional Sunday lunch at Bruno’s in the harbour area. Were it not for the weather and the multi-million-pound yachts we could have been at Hartlepool Marina.  There wasn’t time for dessert if we were to make the kick-off and so we headed back towards the ground. Nobody was collecting any gate money and we went straight into the covered stand where there were around a hundred or so other people sat around, mostly family or friends of the players.

The stadium has a five-thousand capacity, with stands on each of the long sides and an artificial pitch. The main feature though is the Rock, which provides a suitably scenic background. If they still have monkeys living on it, then they kept a low profile as we didn’t see a single one.

One of the odder features of the ground is that it’s the venue for every fixture in the Gibraltar Premier League. Bizarre, really. I know space is tight but there are other grounds in the territory and if crowds of a hundred or so are typical then why not add some variety?

This game features Bruno’s Magpies, perhaps sponsored by the place where we’d had lunch, and Europa FC. The Magpies were in green and black and Europa in what Jen assured me was teal and grey.

It seemed like quite a critical game, with the winners moving into pole position for a spot in the very early qualifying rounds of the newish UEFA Conference competition. Europa went in front after ten minutes before a well-worked move from Magpies was finished with a back-heel to level the score.

At half-time we moved to the stand opposite for a different view. We didn’t stay until the end though as we had a two-hour plus drive back to Alora and I think I’d gained as much enjoyment out of the trip as I was going to. The main highlight, I suppose, was ticking off country number fifty-four where I’d seen a game. I’d like to make it sixty before my sixtieth birthday in a year and a half’s time, so six more to go.

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