Posts Tagged ‘Kremlin’

Dinamo Moscow 2 v Zenit St. Petersburg 2, Sunday 30th May 2021, 4pm

June 1, 2021

Jen and I had planned to have a wander around inside the Kremlin a couple of weeks earlier but had been sidetracked by the chance to go into Lenin’s Mausoleum. The Kremlin wasn’t going anywhere though and so at the weekend we went back to try again. It was busy outside, with a crowd of people gathered to watch the changing of the guard at the eternal flame memorial. We looked on from a distance as we walked towards the Kremlin ticket office and were rewarded with a view of the guards goose-stepping towards us.

There were a variety of tickets on sale and without really knowing how it all worked we picked one that appeared to get us into a few cathedrals. We can always go back and do the Armory Museum and the Bell Tower on a different occasion. It was much quieter inside the Kremlin grounds than it had been outside and we had a mooch around a few different buildings. Some housed artifacts, pots and pans or coins, others were more regular churches, but full of fancy stuff and paintings.

I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside the buildings but they were just as fancy churches always are so you can no doubt imagine how it was. Something that did strike me though was how bad some of the paintings were. I know that most artists in the olden days couldn’t accurately depict the likes of horses, but some of these paintings had people without faces. I can only assume that leaving out the face was acceptable in those days.

The other thing that most of the artists struggled with was babies. Everyone knows that babies have proportionately larger heads than adults, or at least they know now. Back then the done thing was to depict babies, usually baby Jesus, with adult proportions. It invariably looked like he had been replaced with an Action Man doll.

After a late lunch just off Red Square we took a taxi to the Rodina Stadium at Khimki. I was a little concerned as we passed by the Khimki Arena and I wondered if we were going to arrive at a wrong location yet again. Fortunately, it was just a quirk of the route and a few minutes later we were dropped outside of what turned out to be the correct ground for the third-tier PFL Group 2 game between the second teams of Dinamo Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg.

We headed for the nearest gate but were turned away on the basis that we didn’t look like we were Zenit fans. Fair enough, and a good job it was too as we would have been confined to a far end of the stand.

Further up the road we were handed free tickets and guided towards a different gate. I’m not really sure what the deal with the tickets is. Maybe it is to limit attendance in that once all of them have been given out then that’s it, no more admittance.

It took a while to get through the gate, mainly because I had my Barbour on and the security guy kept finding things in the various pockets. I explained away various bulges as being an umbrella, a camera, a pen and finally half a packet of old cashew nuts for feeding squirrels. It would have been much simpler if he had adopted the approach taken by the fella at the Kremlin earlier in the day who was content to ask me if I had any knives or dangerous objects.

Once inside we found seats close to the half-way line and in the back row. This was high enough for us to be able to watch the game over the top of the fence that separated us from the pitch. We also had a running track between us and the action. On the far side was the only other stand which looked to be for VIPs and a church that chimed out at irregular intervals.

The away fans were to our far right, with the home supporters at the other extremity. Both sets of fans kept up the singing throughout and whilst I couldn’t see the Zenit fans too well, a lot of the Dinamo supporters finished the game without their shirts on. It was a cold day too.

Dinamo were in white and blue, whereas Zenit were in blue and white. I’m not really sure why they couldn’t have worn different colours or even just their away shorts.

A quarter of an hour in the Dinamo keeper missed a cross and so pretended that he had been clattered. No sooner had he recovered he failed to take a touch on a back pass and it rolled beyond him heading for the far corner of his goal. He frantically chased it down and just managed to clear it off his own line. I suspect if he had let it in he would have gone down clutching his hamstring.

He didn’t do much better on the half-hour when he left an inswinging corner that bounced in off the thigh of a Zenit player for the opening goal.

The second half had barely started when a Zenit player picked up his second yellow. Both challenges had been needless and were clear bookings. The ref was left with no choice but to send him off and there were no complaints from anyone, including the player himself. Maybe he had somewhere else he needed to be.

A man to the good it didn’t take Dinamo long to draw level with a free header in the six-yard box. The old fellas in front of me were ecstatic. Actually, on reflection, they were probably younger than I am. Still old fellas though, I suppose.

Dinamo were on top at this point and soon added a second when a diagonal ball behind the defence was tucked across the keeper into the opposite corner. At this point there only looked to be one winner but Zenit threw a few people forward as we approached full-time.

With what seemed like just about everyone in the Dinamo box a Zenit player was able to convince the ref that it was the defender who had initiated contact with him, rather than as it looked to me, him running into the defender. The Dinamo Keeper very nearly got to it to the resulting penalty despite it being right in the corner.

Zenit might even have nicked it right at the death with a penalty shout for handball. It looked more of a pen than the one that they had just scored from but the ref took the easy option and instantly blew for full time instead. The Dinamo fans in front of me had clearly expected it to be given and were as happy to see the game finish as they had been with their two goals.

Footnote: I’ve just noticed that this is the five hundredth post on the blog. Blimey. That’s a lot of wasted time.

I’ve enjoyed keeping a record though of sporting events that I get along to. When I started eleven years ago it was only Korean games that I posted about but once I left there in 2013 I widened it to cover whatever I got up to. It’s handy for me now to be able to look back and see what we did when living in South Africa, Australia, Malaysia and now Russia, although I can appreciate from the low number of visitors that fairly dull groundhopping blogs have little interest to anyone bar me.

Anyway, here’s to the next five hundred.

Chertanovo Moscow v Tekstilshchik, Saturday 5th September 2020, 3pm

September 19, 2020

I tend not to visit stadiums more than once these days. It’s a combination of wanting to see somewhere new and of wanting to add to the number of grounds where I’ve attended a game. This weekend was an international weekend though and so my options were more limited than usual. So limited in fact that the only game in town looked to be at the Luzhniki Sports Camp where I’d watched Chertanovo drop three points at home to Alaniya six days previously.

However, even if I couldn’t tick off a new ground I still thought watching live football would be better than lazing around in my flat. To try and avoid it feeling like a repeat visit I booked myself a ticket on the other side of the ground. This meant that I’d be watching from the padded seats in the centre section of the main stand rather than standing in front of a seat that required me to view the game through two fences. My posher seat in Sector A2 cost me three hundred and thirty rubles which is three pounds thirty. Even at the higher price it struck me as being much better value than last week’s two hundred and twenty ruble ticket.

I also decided that I’d walk to the stadium along a different route, so rather than just heading out from my flat and following a reasonably direct route I took a taxi to the Kremlin with the intention of tracking the river all the way to the ground.

Red Square had fewer tourists than last time I’d been there. Most people were taking selfies with the historic buildings in the background, a just married couple were posing for wedding photos in front of the Borovitskaya Tower and a small queue had formed for those wanting to pay their respects in the Lenin Mausoleum.

I knew that if I made my way through the square past St Basil’s Cathedral I’d reach the river in another two or three hundred yards. All I had to do then was turn right, keep the river on my left and I’d eventually reach the Luzhniki Sports Camp.

Anyone who has read this blog before will know that such plans invariably don’t go as smoothly as I’d hope, but on this occasion it worked perfectly. I didn’t even have to check my location on my phone. I passed the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour with its golden onion bulb topped towers and the impressive Ministry of Defence building. On the other side of the river was a big statue of some seafaring fella.

The river water didn’t look particularly clear, but as there was the odd duck bobbing about it couldn’t have been too bad. It must have been good enough for fish to survive as there were a few fishermen trying their luck. I didn’t notice anyone catch anything but at one point I paused to watch a fella try to haul in what turned out to be a log that he’d snagged. I don’t think he appreciated the audience.

The river was busy with cruise trips, some of which didn’t have music blaring out, and so maybe at some point I’ll try one myself. The one downside of the walk was having to keep an eye out for electric scooters. They are easily and cheaply hired in Moscow and whilst there are walking and cycling lanes marked on the riverside path, the scooters would appear suddenly weaving from lane to lane.

The walk was definitely a city walk, with a busy road alongside me all the way to Luzhniki. Across the river I could see Gorky Park and if I end up paying a third visit to the Sports Camp I think I’ll walk along the opposite bank for the quieter surroundings.

I arrived at the Sports Camp two hours after setting off from the Kremlin and with a few minutes to spare to kick-off. Unfortunately, admission was via a gate on the opposite side of the ground and so I had to backtrack through the park, eventually reaching my back-row seat a minute after the game got underway. My late arrival inconvenienced the bloke at the end of my row who was videoing the match, presumably in some sort of official capacity. He had to move the tripod to let me by and so anything of note that happened in the second minute of the game will escape analysis.

My vantage point was much better than the previous week and my padded chair also had armrests. I was a little disappointed that it didn’t recline or have an automated cigar lighter. The seats around me were only partially occupied with at least every second one taped to signify that it wasn’t to be used although clusters of people, presumably from the same household, were sat together. I took advantage of a break in play for an injury and counted the fans in the opposite side of the ground. I made it ninety-four depending upon whether I’d correctly identified anyone stewarding. There were approximately six hundred seats in that side of the ground so that’s reasonable distancing in theory.

The fans on the far side included two singing clusters, both supporting Chertanovo and both tending to limit their repertoire to repeated renditions of “Shirta, Shirta”. Over on my side, to my left were ten or so away fans who didn’t really pipe up until the second half when we were treated to a snarly sort of chant loosely based on the tune to Yellow Submarine. Ringo sang it so much better.

Tekstilshchik, in red and black stripes, had the better chances in the first half including a free-kick from around thirty yards that was tipped over the bar by the home goalie with the top-knot. As with last week, there was a player booked for diving, although for what it’s worth I’d have given the pen. Diving in the box must be this season’s clampdown issue.

It was goalless at half-time and whilst I was tempted to wander around to the burger van on the other side of the stadium, I thought I’d disrupted video guy enough already. Three minutes after the restart the visitors took the lead.  Their tall striker with the beard did well to keep the ball in and pulled it back for someone else to stab it home from a yard out.

Beardy bloke might well have been the best player on the pitch. If he wasn’t he certainly believed that he was. In the latter stages of the game he formed a strike partnership of Ravanelli and Beck proportions with one of the subs. Beardy was quick to throw his hands up if the sub didn’t try to set him up or misplaced his pass whilst for his part the sub seemed to be constantly seeking the approval of his hirsute team mate. It was in vain as Beardy withheld his appreciation and avoided eye contact whenever the sub did anything that might be considered praiseworthy.

Despite their efforts Tekstilshchik failed to add to the earlier strike and Chertanovo were no more effective. The contest petered out with just the single away goal to separate the teams.