Monday, 21 May 2012

FK Beograd v Padinska Skela

AiT publications apprehensively presents:

The AiT Rough Guide to FK Beograd

Idiotic advice. Flimsy, at best, coverage. A buger to use.

FK Beograd 2-2 Padinska Skela
Sunday 6th May
Sprksa Liga - Belgrade
Stadion FK Beograd, Belgrade
Attendance: 100

As one of the world's most fiercest derbies the lure of the Belgrade derby, Partizan v Red Star, is obvious. A seething cauldron of hatred, a feast for the senses as a cacophony of chanting and flares serves to create an intimidating atmosphere. A must see for every football fan right?

Well yeah....I guess. If you like that sort of thing. But here at AiT Rough Guides we cater for a different type of tourist and this article will give the painfully single groundhopper all the information they need to successfully Lonely Fan-It (sorry) at a 3rd division Belgrade derby game FK Beograd.

Slightly bonkers club badge, Belgrade. 

Brief History:

FK Beograd were formed in 1929 and bumbled around until they won the Serbian 2nd division in 2000. However, they decided they couldn't be meithered with promotion and let Sartid Smederevo have a play with the big boys instead. They now play at the third level, in the Belgrade league, against pigeon fanciers Hajduk Beograd and the circus trick performing wolves of FK Sopot amongst others.

Arrival and Departure:

The ground is centrally located and easily accessible. For that unique Belgrade experience there's only one way to arrive to this game, in the way we did, by ramshackle Lada taxi driven by a bemused, god fearing driver. A taxi should cost no more than £5. Not the fare, the actual taxi. That car was a death trap. Watch out for local families travelling by horse and cart along the busy highway. No, really. 

Token match shot, Belgrade.


Those who make the effort to arrive in time for the 10am kick off are rewarded with a treat from the minute they step underneath the club logo sporting archway which marks the entrance to this magical world of tinpottery. 

The flats and hairdressers:
The ground is reached by walking past a kids park, and you're in. No turnstile. No terraces. Just a fence. One massive blue fence, all the way around the ground. Take a short walk around the ground and you'll walk through a large block of flats. While in the neighbourhood why not take advantage of the hairdressers, situated just behind the goal, and get yourself a trendy new Serbian haircut while watching the match. A unique experience. 

Watching football Belgrade style, eh. Belgrade. 

The Grass Bank and main stand:
For a great viewpoint of the game, and the surroundings areas, join the locals on the excessively steep grass bank, the gradient of which guarantees comedy tumbleage. The locals line up atop the overgrown slope, some bury themselves amongst the thistles, nestling into their usual, arse flattened patch of grass while others take their place in the main stand. A main stand made of 16 bits of cheap, roughly chopped wood. A main stand with a capacity of three. A MAIN STAND WITH A CAPACITY OF THREE! Keep the Belgrade derby, keep it. The Marakana? The Partizan Stadium. Pfft! Shove it! THIS is the most see destination for the AiT traveller this season. THREE SEATS!

Only the best frickin' stand anywhere. Sweet. Belgrade.

Seriously though, you've seen a better stand? You haven't. Belgrade. 

The Away End:
For those travelling to support the away team you will also be adequately catered for in a precipitous corner of the ground. From this vantage point you will be separated from the undergrowth dwellers by the world's flimsiest looking fence and some chip board which could be dislodged by an eager trail of ants.
Entrance: Free.

 Classic shopping bag, Belgrade.

The locals:

You'll do well to spot some of them. Some prefer to build a little nest and watch the game under a thick cover of undergrowth. 

Undergrowth man, Belgrade. Can you see him, can you, can you?

Undergrowth man, Belgrade. Can you see him now, can you, can you? 

Do watch out for the local nutter, a man who turns up late and is dressed in camouflage. Of course camouflage. You may not see him, but you will hear him. His bombastic advice is superfluously offered to the Beograd players all match long. Listen out for the cries of "uuppaa" and yossshh" echoing from the flats as the action gets frenetic. 

The uuppaa man takes a break, Belgrade.

If you're lucky you will witness a foolhardy local attempt to reach the bottom of the bank. The performance is spectacular. Watch as they begin the attempt by edging nervously sideways with the grace of a drunken crab with a dead leg. This then moves into an un-elegant, arms flailing pirouette, followed by an out of control heavy footed stagger, similar to that of an belligerent horse that's just viciously unseated it's rider, before culminating in a delighted look back to the appreciative crowd, who are by now in hysterical raptures at the magical performance, as the sanctuary of stable ground is reached. A must see. 

A precarious start, Belgrade.

An apprehensive middle. Top quality entertainment, Belgrade. 

Fence clinging success, Belgrade. 


The ground has a range of accommodation options to suit every budget.

Here you can achieve every tinpot travellers dream and stay in a flat overlooking the ground. Wake up, fart, scratch nackers, roll over, fart, step out onto balcony and BOOM! 3rd division Serbian football before your barely open peepers. Magical. £££

Sleep under the stars:

The ground caters for the budget traveller via a mattress at one end of the ground. This offers a unique match day experience and an awful nights sleep on a waterlogged, stuffing free, probably urine soaked, rancid single mattress. £

Budget accommodation, FK Beograd, Belgrade.

Eating and Drinking:

An old boy wanders round with a basket full of seeds. If you're feeling hungry he'll scoop some up in his hand and shove them into a paper cone for you. You probably won't feel hungry then. Try and have breakfast at your hotel. Sadly, hair of the dog beers are not available.


For those of you to fancy to piss in a bush (i.e. you're a woman) then there is a squat and drop toilet in the weird little house thing that doubles up the changing rooms at this magical bizarro-ground. 

Twitter's @theballisround takes a tumble to the delight of the locals. Belgrade.

Disabled access:

A wheelchair? On a grass bank that steep? Are you quite mad?


If you've heard a funkier tune that this one that soundtracks a couple of FK Beograd goals on that internet then you sir, or madam, or a liar. Whimsical folky nonsense not your thing? How about a rap about the club then? Or maybe play them both at the same time. No, stop it!

The match:

Oh yeah! Dunno, there was a three seater main stand and a steep grass bank. I watched very little of the game. I know there was a woman referee and a woman linesman. Soccerway says it finished 2-2. A THREE SEATER STAND!!

For some more on the game head over to The Ball is Round and for some proper photos have a look at Danny's Last's flickr and view them as a slide show.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Partizan Belgrade v Red Star Belgrade

Saturday Night Fervour

Partizan Belgrade 0-1 Red Star Belgrade
Saturday 5th May
Serbian Super Liga
Stadion Partizana, Belgrade
Attendance: 20,000

"I want Avram Grant shot. I want to see him executed in the main square"

Why the hatred from our man in Belgrade? After all Partizan secured their fifth Championship in a row last weekend with three games remaining. It's because Partizan have just lost 0-1. To hated city rivals Red Star Belgrade. Their third loss to them in the last 6 weeks.

Massive floodlight. Tick.

The Belgrade derby, the Eternal Derby, is one of the most intense rivalries in the world, even the Daily Mail says so and the Guardian went with "whenever the two teams meet the atmosphere is rancid with hatred and aggression." Comments like that and scenes like this from the previous league game mean it didn't take a lengthy discussion before me and my blogger type companions, Stuart Fuller, Andy '6 a day' Hudson and Danny Last (retired), had booked flights with Europe's most leg room unfriendly airline to get ourselves to the game.

All around the streets stand numerous small groups of police, shields raised, guns strapped to legs and ready for trouble. Prior to the match there was trouble away from the ground, with one fan receiving a broken leg but we had an easy walk to the ground involving minimal security checks.
Ultras graffiti. Tick.

We bundle into the ground shortly before kick off. There's no time to look up and survey the scene, the waves of the crowd dictate where you go and washes you ashore atop of a seat where you stand for the match. Sitting isn't an option, singing, shouting and gesticulating wildly are your default settings for the next two hours. 

Grobari graffiti. Marvellous isn't it.  

To the left, on the south stand, are the main bulk of Partizan fans, collectively know as the Grobari (The Gravediggers). They're all dressed in black and white, all singing, all bouncing. The perimeter fence is covered in the flags of different fans groups like Shadows, South Guard and the main ultras group, Alcatraz.

We find ourselves in the east stand amongst a growing collection of smaller fan groups, called Zabranjeni (The Forbidden) who are against Alcatraz, who they accuse of co-operating with police and exploiting the club for their own financial benefits. This conflict has often spilled over into violence, none worse so than last year when 20 year old Zabranjeni member Ivan Perovic was shot and killed.

To our right, some Red Star fans have climbed the fence and are posturing towards the Partizan fans before being beaten back by riot police. There is an impressive amount of Red Star fans, collectively known as the Delije (which loosely translates as the Heroes), although the total attendance is about 5,000 below that of the cup game at this stadium 3 weeks ago.


As the teams enter the pitch black and white signs are held high by the Grobari, black and white balloons are released on the pitch and a banner stretching the length of the north stand is unfurled by the Delije stating, "The gypsies salute their champions". The gypsies being an often used derogatory term for the Red Star fans.

From then whole stands shake as the Grobari and Delije bounce to the demands of the bare chested men barking orders, chants are passionately sung and Red Star are first to stop the game as an impressive display of flares are launched towards the pitch. In the AiT rule book pyrotechnic is most definitely not a crime. Fireman mince around the running track carrying the flares at arms length before dunking them into buckets of sand, or tossing them into the water jump of the steeplechase, but there's no extinguishing of the unrelenting atmosphere.

Down with this sort of thing.

Both sets of fans take in turns to unfurl insulting, or nationalistic, or something about Barack Obama banners in cryptic Cyrillic. We dance around on the orders of the Zabranjeni capo as he orders everyone to sing a bit of Just Can't Get Enough by Depeche Mode. Of course Depeche Mode. We shit ourselves as fire crackers land a few rows in front of us and the Red Star players are pelted with objects as they sprint off. It's easy to forget there's a match on. It remains goalless at half time. 

Token match shot.

5 minutes into the second half we get the nod, the flares are imminent. Two minutes later thirty yellow and red flares are being waved all around us, a cloud of smoke grows, play stops as the flares explode on the pitch, more are lit and rain down forcing overworked firemen to scuttle on to remove them while the thick smoke gradually drifts away over the floodlights. After a year spent watching teams play in front of two dysfunctional groundhoppers and a bored dog, where the nearest I get to seeing a flare is watching an old boy strike a match to light his pipe tobacco, I make no apologies for being a little aroused at this. 

How was the atmosphere at the FA Cup final?

Look out Fireman Savo! It's coming your way!

All through the second half the game drifts, while the atmosphere builds and builds. Seats burn in the Red Star end, the two sets of Partizan fans deliver chants in unison to inspire their team and/or (more likely) insult the Red Star fans. The Grobari light more flares forcing firemen to scuttle into action again while and we all explore more camera functions to capture the perfect shot of 'mental Serb with flare in hand'.

Flares up if you hate Avram.

On 93 minutes there's pandemonium in the north stand. Cadu smacks in a twenty yard winner for Red Star. The noise is incredible, the fans in the north stand surge in delirious elation, the management rush onto the pitch and goalkeeper Balkovic leads the charge of celebration towards their fans. Meanwhile Partizan sub, Nikola Ninkovic, breaks down in tears.

The final whistle sounds shortly after and the atmosphere is now tense. Again the Red Star players vault advertising boards to be with their fans, their fans rush towards them and a few break onto the running track and the pitch, including one man dragging his daughter with him as he gesticulates at the home fans. Furious Grobari barge past us to get near the invading Red Star fans but, thankfully, the police are soon out to stop them getting any closer to the pitch. Newly installed Red Star legend Avram Grant stands impassive, arms folded and distant from his players as they gather in a huddle to mourn their disastrous defeat.

The Red Star fans are now the ones singing "Champione".Today they are the champions of Belgrade This hurts the Partizan fans sparking torrents of abuse, the hurling of missiles and the introductory death wish, from our previously mild mannered host, as they're forced to run off the pitch.

There was nothing to play for in league positions today and were told by this game wasn't as intense as it might have been. *gulps* But being in the middle of this atmosphere, witnessing the passion on the terraces and being amongst the fervour of the fans on the terraces made this trip a privilege. See you at the Marakana next season.

Special thanks to Nenad, a Red Star fan fluent in Geordie. Whenever you want to come and watch Bristol Manor Farm let me know.