Living In Another World

SERBIAN TRIP pt 3

Rad 0 Crvena Zverda 2

Serbian Superliga

Attendance: 2,000

Gate: 400 Serbian Dinar (£2.98)

Programme: Not produced

Last night in Serbia and the final part of my trip saw me heading a little further away from my hotel, but not that far. As the Serbian summer had saved the heat for my final day there was no way I was walking 3 miles uphill in temperatures above 30 degrees, so a few dinars were spent on a taxi.

Due to Rad’s opponents I thought that tickets would be at a premium, so with the ticket office opening a couple of hours before I was at the King Petar 1 Stadium in plenty of time. Ticket bought, I now had those couple of hours to kill, it was time to find some shade and drink plenty of water. I had never experienced heat like this.

The coach carrying the Red Star team arrived under heavy escort, the police were out in force, it was time to go into the ground and one of the best stands I have ever been in. The ground only has 2 sides, the other 2 are fenced off with club property including training areas surrounding these. To the South is where Rad’s Ultras congregate, a separate entrance for the ‘United Force’.

The main stand was split, the visitors had a portion towards the north of the stand, the home fans next to their Ultras. This stand had some seating on a lower level and then the rest of us on the upper tier. I am not sure what the history of this stand is, but it looks like it has seen better times, older pictures show a roof on the stand, no longer there.

It was still 32 degrees at kick-off, the heat was oppressive but the players and ultras just got on with it. I melted. Whilst there was endeavour at the start of the match, neither team looked likely of scoring early on, Rad looked intent on stopping Red Star play, to frustrate and spoil, and they were being successful as well as attacking on the break.

In the 38th minute we had a breakthrough, a corner was swung in to the far post and Le Tallec, younger brother of the once Liverpool striker, looped his header back over the keeper and over the line to break the deadlock. It was just starting to look as though Red Star were getting frustrated.

The second half started with Rad having a go, whilst the final ball often let them down, they also hit the woodwork after 55 minutes from a close range shot. This warning was heeded by the visitors, they took control, should have scored several more and never looked in danger of losing their lead. Rad gave it their best, but were outclassed by their more illustrious neighbours who finally killed the game off in injury time. Pesic who missed a golden chance not long after the hour, headed in at the far post to kill any hope.

I was away from the ground sharpish to head off back to my hotel, as were the Red Star team, passing me within minutes on their team bus.

My trip to the Balkans was over, a match lighter than anticipated but thoroughly enjoyable none the less. Thank you Serbia, thank you Belgrade!

FACTS

Games: 399

Goals:  1363

Grounds: 194

Games since a 0-0: 12

MILESTONE

11th new ground in 11 games, beating previous record

SOUNDTRACK

The Colour of Spring – Talk Talk

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