Friday, August 1, 2008

Dinamo Zagreb 1 Linfield 1

Champions’ League 1st Round qualifier, Wednesday 23rd July 2008

Team: Mannus, Douglas, O'Kane, Murphy, Bailie, Lindsay ( Ferguson ), Hagan, McAreavey, Gault, Mulgrew, Downey
Subs not used : Addis, Miskimmin, Gary Thompson, Burns, Kearney

Scorer: Michael Gault

Attendance: 3000 max (70 Bluemen)

What a result and what a performance. We rode our luck a little at times, thanks to poor finishing and a yet again inspired Tino, but we had chances of our own, and with a little luck, could have even won late on. This is what Jeffrey’s Linfield excel at: a gritty, backs-to-the-wall performance, featuring 100% commitment and application against a superior opponent, making our own luck and getting the result: see numerous previous Setanta ties (Drogheda, Cork, Shelbourne, Derry City).

The ground was a dump, we got rained on for 90 minutes, and I’ve a cracking photo from a Croatian newspaper I’ll scan soon showing the contrast in our fans, half huddled up together in raincoats and umbrellas, the other half, bellies exposed, waving their tops like scarves. But we all loved it, and could have sung on for another 90 minutes.

To the match itself. Zagreb scored early on after a flowing move and I feared a trouncing. Then the BBB must have lit at least 30 flares and proceeded to fire them onto the pitch, some landing dangerously close to Tino, the ref stopped the game for 3 minutes, he had a case for abandoning it.

But the Blues gradually found their way into the game, despite having a less-than-mobile overweight midfielder as our lone striker, and indeed created chances of our own in our brief forays into the Zagreb half, Aidy should have at least hit the target after a cross from the right was missed in the centre by a Zagreb defender, O’Kane wrecking the ball over the bar.

We all sheltered near the burger stand under cover at half time, and indeed some stayed there so long (ahem, MB, Rog and Carsie) that they missed our goal… we got a free kick over on the right touchline, (I just had a feeling we’d score from it), Maccers whipped it in, and there was that man Michael Gault (if only we’d a team of him) to head home from close range. We all went ballistic. Zagreb forced but Linfield were equal to everything. Late on, a cross from the right cleared their defence, if Downey’s first touch had been in any way good he’d surely have scored, but he overhit it and the keeper could save. Apparently from the resulting corner, Spike was brought down and we should have had a stonewall penalty, but I don’t even remember that. We clung on at the end to secure a great result. There were inspired performances all over the pitch: Tino once more, Dougie again inspired at LB, Hagan more than capable at RB, Jamie running his socks off, Maccers and Downey showing their skill (some of our short one-touch passing was a joy) but Gault was the undoubted star of the show. He was everywhere. What a player.

The celebrations went on long into the night, many of the fans joining the players for a few drinks and a chat, incurring the wrath of the local constabulary.

It was my first European trip, and I had an absolute ball, despite us being more or less confined to the hotel and needing police escorts EVERYWHERE (including round the corner to the Chinese for a meal one evening) because of the hooligan threat from the ‘Bad Blue Boys’, whose HQ was located round the corner from our hotel. I can’t wait for a ‘normal’ Euro away trip. Some of the many memories:

- Bluenose’s first text: “Zagreb is shite. Hotel OK though” High praise indeed for the hotel!
- Getting a police escort round the corner to a Chinese, told to wear no colours
- Torrens falling over in the Chinese, breaking a vase. Torrens would continue this permadrunk state for the duration of the trip
- No singing demanded by police
- “9 fellas and one girl”
- “Wednesday flight”
- “Shut the fu ck up, you’re a boring fucking borebag Torrens”
- Torrens’ topless headstands. What a mess.
- MARIIIIIAAAAAA – didn’t get bundled after the boys being warned, but had her feet tickled instead. Froots.
- Drive through Zagreb – near run into trams, dead ends, slum areas, BBB graffiti everywhere, stumbled upon the Laguna – shit outside, ok in, had a pint and a natter with the exiles 

mural outside our hotel

Luxurious Laguna

- Back to our hotel, boys already tanked up
- Reinforcements arrive including the Laguna crew and Mid-Shankill, police finding it increasingly difficult to enforce ‘no singing’ rule
- “Getty is a wanker”
- Flags flown proudly for photos outside the hotel, as the rain continues to piss down
- Mid –Shankill go off in their bus, we get a full-on police escort to the tram stop, singing non-stop, a few BBB appear, ushered away by cops “Who are ya?!”

- On the tram, bouncing away, the driver loved it, but the police were having fits, meanwhile meatwagons accompanied us alongside on the street
- “We all dream of a team of Michael Gaults, a team of Michael Gaults, a team of Michael Gaults, we all dream of a team of Michael Gaults, a team of Michael Gaults, a team of Michael Gaults, Number 1 is Michael Gault, Number 2 is Michael Gault, Number 3 is Michael Gault, and number 4 is Michael Gault” ad nauseam. All night long.

- Police kindly lead us to a bar near the ground, flags hung, many beverages consumed, songs sung, too much flesh exposed…

- Taken to ground, pissing it down, club paid for fans’ tickets (only 20 kuna, but still a nice gesture) ground is a shithole, puddles everywhere, no cover
- Shite crowd, loads of them behind the opposite goal, not much else, 3k max.
- “Tops off for the Ulstermen!”

- “Our city our rules!”
- “Nanananananana Get her get her bucked, get her bucked, GET HER GET HER BUCKED!!!!”
- “We all dream of a team of Michael Gaults, a team of Michael Gaults, a team of Michael Gaults, We all dream of a team of Michael Gaults, a team of Michael Gaults, a team of Michael Gaults, Number 1 is Michael Gault, Number 2 is Michael Gault, Number 3 is Michael Gault, and Number 4 is Michael Gault…” ad nauseam
- Torrens 90-minute top-off to win a bet with me of 5 pints. Mug.
- Mad number of flares shortly after their goal thrown onto the pitch. Disgraceful.
- Ahem, ‘old-school’ singing…

- Soaked to the skin by a constant downpour. Soaked.
- Mad dancing, singing while waiting to be let out (song might sound familiar)

- “We’ve got our own tram”. Eejits.

- Banter with the police, who were brilliant btw, many of whom were Dinamo fans and said that the hostility towards us was in part due to newspaper reports saying we sang ‘Serbia’ in the home leg
- Off to players bar after a well-deserved shower.
- Torrens talking more shite, (‘Wednesday flight’ to Spike, who deservedly replied with ‘what the fuck?’), slagging Downey for not clapping the fans after being substituted (YEEEO! Downey had a great game btw, the best I’ve seen him play)
- Torrens lit, drinking beer/peanut mixtures
- Getty up to his usual mischief after the others had faded, nice IRA tattoo on MB, ‘Get her bucked’ on EBB etc
- 3 hours’ sleep
- MB losing his flag next day :sob:
- Jonesy flagrantly ignoring Slovenian police’s demand for 35 Euros to use the motorways by just driving on ignorantly lol
- Betamax Klagenfurt airport, fecking Austrian May McFetridge on the plane talking shite to her schoolkids
- Shemale air stewardess to Getty in emergency door seats : “How old are you?”
- Fucked for 3 days afterwards

What a trip. I’m sure there’s loads I’ve missed out on, even though I wasn’t that blocked. Cheers to all I was with, you helped make it a cracking away tour. All being well, I’ll definitely be back next year for a more ‘normal’ experience…

More photos here.

Match highlights here (turn the screwed-up sound off):


Anonymous said...

Excellent mate. What a trip! Roll on next summer...


Anonymous said...

That pretty much sums up the whole 3/4 days away, top stuff...