Friday 5th November 2010
To the travelling fan there is so much to these regular trips to all four corners of Europe than what happens on the pitch, certainly in the majority of cases anyway. Consequently, despite events inside Shakhtar's new stadium on Wednesday night it has yet again been a highly entertaining few days.
The city has definitely changed quite considerably from our last visit ten years ago or is currently being upgraded, as in the city's airport for example. The runway feeling like it was covered in speedbumps and still collecting your luggage from the back of a lorry is rare these days in such a big city!
The hotel on the other hand was very pleasant and comfortable unlike last time with it's lack of doors, windows and washing facilities in some of the rooms!
With refreshment options also more numerous and varied, all in all the entertainment on offer was comfortably of a higher quality. In the usual fashion we made sure we pushed that particular aspect of the European tour to its very limits. As we have said before, it would have been rude not to!
As a result, Tuesday's entertainment finished a full 24 hours after we arose for our early morning flight from Heathrow. Matchday was spent in a fine microbrewery sampling the wares available on tap at your table, the quite superb food and of course whilst watching the quite stunning sights that graced the establishment all day.
The match itself was forgettable as far as we are concerned. Only a fine stadium, Theo's superb goal and Jack missing a guilt edged chance spring to mind. Individual errors at the highest level prove extremely costly more often than not and Wednesday was the perfect example. One such mistake ultimately cost us a point.
The whole qualification is still very much in our hands despite this disappointment and it was probably this that meant we still enjoyed the city's entertainment offerings until daybreak.
The long journey home very much felt like one with the previous couple of days' excesses but it brought a successful trip to a close off the pitch, if not on it.
Newcastle come to town next on the back of a fine derby day victory last weekend. Every game is hard, West Ham showed us that last week despite their lowly league position. Sunday's will prove equally as difficult as we look to continue our current league form.
To use a topical (and ever so slightly corny) adage at this time of year...it is us that need to provide the three point fireworks!!
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