Friday 1st October 2010
Any one of the travelling Gooners in Belgrade on Tuesday night will explain the title to my latest ramblings. Part of the quite amazing sound and colour greeting the players onto the pitch was a huge pitch width banner stating this very line. With it very much a case of job done a couple of hours later as guests we could only offer the slogan back to our hosts!
I really liked Belgrade for a number of reasons. With much of the region's colourful history being extremely recent, that side of the trip was very interesting and Serbian Gooner Stefan made sure we saw as much as was possible in our short stay.
This included of course plenty of good local tucker in anything from fast food outlets to local 'Kafana' and plenty of liquid refreshment to boot, in the company of many of the local people, all very talkative, friendly and welcoming throughout our trip.
Matchday of course, included that extra buzz or PMT that only football can bring you, even more so I feel when attending a European away game. Consequently as we made our way to the stadium we all knew we would be in for quite a 'welcome', previous trips to the cities in this part of the world our indication.
The stadium itself could not have been more accurate to the kind we imagined, a structure from days of old or a 'proper' ground to those of us who remember them!
Pre-match proved low key with all of us present relatively confident that if we had the desire to match our quite obvious ability we would emerge victorious.
Low key that is until the 'song leader' started stirring things up through loud speakers located throughout the stadium! I can understand to a certain degree why this works before a match but for me I think it is something that should be outlawed by the game's authorities when the actual match is taking place. Not only is it unnecessary in an already noisy atmosphere but to be honest it was very irritating!
Nonetheless by the time the players emerged the 'leader' had the whole place reaching a total frenzy and the noise and colour as a result were a memorable experience.
Group pic in the city's fortress
Just had to get a cannon shot!
Having taken our place in the away section
The amazing colour as the players emerged
Traditional Champions League scene prior to kick-off
A bit like on our trip to Fenerbahce I felt an early goal would be perfect to calm everybody down and let our football do the all important talking. The Meerkat duly obliged after some awesome close footwork from Jack and we were on our way.
How we were level come half time was not only confusing but extremely annoying! Chance after chance had gone begging and without causing us any problems the penalty we gave away was downright silly.
Obviously the penalty and sending off incident was a very important moment in the game as even after we managed to continue making it hard for ourselves by missing it there was plenty of time to make the extra man count.
Marouanne's typical 'striker' goal did just that but it still left time for plenty more incident! Our third looked to have seen our hosts off once and for all but a fine 60 seconds or so for Fab in goal saw him deal with two dangerous crosses and save a penalty to see us home.
Serbian football is not at its best these days but we should take nothing away from what was a fine away win in an extremly hostile atmosphere.
For us as fans, it was a little 'uneasy' at times but overall it was an incredible experience. The post-match beers back in the city not only gave us time to reflect but other than some more touristy stuff on Friday, it pretty much brought a great European trip to a successful close.
Many thanks to Stefan for looking after us, I for one hope we get to come back to your city in the not too distant future.
Chelsea away next then and a game that simply couldn't be tougher as we look to get our league season back on track after last Saturday's derailment.
Sing up at the Bridge.
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