England V Panama Nizhney Novgorod
As mentioned in my previous blog my time in Nizhney started with a slight accomodation hiccup. The family that I eventually ended up staying with however more than made up for that issue by being the nicest hosts anybody could want. The mother is an oncology Dr who literally works every hour of the day, 7 days a week, to pay off a debt that was left after her husband passed away a year and a half ago. Despite this they showed the utmost generosity and would give you the shirt from their backs if you needed one….terrible people these Russians
Nizhney is located approximately 350-400km east of Moscow and sits on the meeting point of two rivers (one again being the Volga which flows down to Volgograd, the host of Englands 1st game). The day after my arrival in Nizhney saw the game between Argentina and Croatia, with large numbers of supporters from both teams being in the city (South Americans don’t need visas to get to Russia and there are big numbers of fans for each team from that region). I met with the two brothers from Brighton and a third guy, who I had bumped into previously called Frankie, who is a ‘Gooner’. We headed out into town and watched the Croatians show Argentina how to play football, after which we joined them in the city centre as they took the piss out of the dejected Argie fans. Despite all the Croat singing, you could still hear England songs coming from our quartet, much to the annoyance of one Croatian who complained “its our day, you should not be singing England songs’, to which another volley of England songs, sang at an even higher volume, was the reply he received.
In trying to be as honest as possible with this blog, I can only say that the two days following this were basically a repeat performance of the first. I have drank far to much vodka and seen very little of Nizhney, outside from the city centre and, of that part, predominantly just the bars. It has however been a superb laugh; I met chris who is a friend of Frankie and also a raving Arsenal fan. Chris has been wandering the Earth for a couple of years now, basically enjoying himself and I have nothing but the utmost respect for that. He has a great sense of humour and is just an easy guy to be around. During one of the evening sessions myself, Chris and Frankie were joined by a couple of scousers in a bar on the edge of the river and also a Fellow Coventry City fan called Brian; Now Brian has achieved some notoriety recently when he always sits in the same seat at the snooker wearing his Coventry City top, of which moves have been made by those who run the sport to stop him. Despite all their efforts Brian has still managed to get the same seat next year after queuing for 25 hours for the ticket…’go on Brian lad’.
The Day of the game beckoned and with it being the first game of the day, it was an early start and off in to the town then stadium. It was a VERY hot day and it was never going to be a fast pace game as that would be un-sustainable in that kind of heat. A Job well done by England with a nice bit of creativity in set pieces and some well taken goals all round.
View from The Stands.
Those of you back home may or may not be aware that there are a few differences during the World Cup than you don’t get if you go to a game back in the UK……They are:-
1) There is no segregation. All fans and nations are intermingled…you may get strong pockets of a certain team but its pretty open
2) You can drink in the ground….this is a major WOW…beer…..in your seat during the game…I KNOW!!. Not a weak strength beer either just full on strength Budweiser…happy with that!
3) England Fans are in fine voice…not sure how it sounds on the TV but it the stadium all you can hear is England giving it Some clog!
4) Huge hairy Russians don’t like getting drowned in beer every time England score. I watched one man mountain, on the bottom tier, loosing his rag because he had been soaked for the 5th time that half, from the 2000 England fans in the stand above.
5) Gabby the TV presenter (cant remember her second name…blonde lass, big hands (if you get the drift?), also doesn’t like a beer shower, she was sat pitch side and copped more than the odd pint.
6) There was at least one England fan who could not figure out that, in order to throw his beer everywhere, it should ideally leave the plastic pint container in which its purchased. The England fan who it nearly knocked, out when it hit him square on the head, was not impressed with this oversight!
7) I saw two England fans arrested….one for dancing….admittedly he was dancing on the handrail at the front of the tier, with a 100 ft drop to the fans below, but to be fair it was a decent moon walk he was doing.
8) The other was nicked for lobbing his beer (whilst maintaining his pint glass)….i think that’s akin to getting arrested for whistling during a hurricane!
I am now officially man down. I need a few days rest and recuperation so am headed to St Petersburg to chilax. I don’t have a ticket for the Next game so will watch it on TV, then I have tickets all the way to the final after that.
As I type I’m on the first of two trains to get me to St Petersburg, and its full of football fans of many nations…It looks like the ‘Train of the Zombie football fans’, as everyone is mostly dead, sweating alcohol of one description or another, farting and snoring. This is what the World Cup is all about…peoples of the world all suffering monster hangovers together, in a hot, non-air conditioned metal box at the height of summer…..get in!
It’s now 24 hours later than that typed above. Despite being in St Petersburg for most of that time, I have not seen a lot of it as I’ve been asleep….i think I needed it. Ive just met up with Chris, who I last saw in São Paulo during the last World Cup and we have just had a very nice dinner thank you please!! Lots of Argentinians about ready for the crunch game here with Nigeria today..will be watching that one.
St Petersburg is beautiful ..