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Man City Transfer Target!
Dec 1, 2008, 9:57 PM
Post #1 of 1
Depsite the late switching of fixtures we had an excellent weekend in Bulgaria and it sounds as if we even had slightly better weather than all of you back in the UK.
Bulgaria 28-30 November
Friday 28 November Lokomotiv Mezdra 2 CSKA Sofia 2. Crowd 4700. Admission 5 Levs (over £2 !!)
Very small ground at newly promoted Mezdra which has an official capacity of 3000 but, as I was advised by my Bulgarian contact, that didn't stop them selling more tickets and the ground was pretty well packed in the open seated area reserved for home fans and even more so in the fairly shallow terracing behind one goal into which we were shepherded with the CSKA fans. There was a little crowd trouble with bits of the fencing being torn down by the CSKA fans and as we later saw on the TV a couple of car windows smashed etc. However with strict segregation the two sets of fans did not appear to actually engage each other.
On a beautiful sunny afternoon CSKA looked the better side but took a long while to establish their authority. Mezdra probably deserved a point for the "top corner screamer" of a first equaliser and for the dreadful miss by CSKA a couple of minutes from the end following which Mezdra went down the other end and equalised again, this eventually costing CSKA the league leadership.
Saturday 29 November Botev Plovdiv 2 Lokomotiv Plovdiv 2 Crowd 12000 Admission 4 Levs
With a choice following the fixture changes most of our group of 9 settled for utilising our minibus and leaving Levski Sofia for another day, although a couple of our party did go to their game. In addition Brian had already been to Botev so he opted for a frolic of his own to Petrich, although luckily we noticed that they were playing their game in Sandanski (travel advice he asked me to pass on - a long way from the station but the bus to the Sanatorium goes from the station and meets all trains and it is just a short walk from the terminus to the ground)
On the drive to Plovdiv we saw a lot of snow in the mountains but it was pleasant if cloudy afternoon in Plovdiv. There was again serious segregation but we ended up with home fans behind one goal. Botev's is a traditional old style Eastern European stadium , being essentially a vast open bowl with one elevated building in the middle of one side at the front of which were about 50 covered seats. Most of the seating was just plain flat metal and lot of fans preferred to stand, with no officious stewards to tell them not to !
I was advised Botev have recently been obliged to play some games behind closed doors and indeed both sets of fans were very passionate and flares set off by the home fans along one side delayed the start as the linesman disappeared into the resulting fog. This made for a very good atmosphere and although the game took a while to get going it was quite lively and with Botev scoring first and last fortunes fluctuated but honours ended even. For the second game in a row we had a red card.
Sunday 30 November Litex Lovech 2 Spartak Varna 1 . Crowd quoted at 1000 but we thought two or three hundred less. Admssion a scandalous 2 Levs (about 90p).
Lovech is fairly small and very industrial town a couple of hours from Sofia but the club has financial backing and so can sustain top division football and indeed the occasional European foray such as their tie with Villa earlier this year. The ground is again bowl shaped and fairly shallow but looks extremely smart in the bright green and orange colours of Litex. There were mainly proper plastic seats plus a small standing area, and yet again the typical large building in the middle of one side, which looked quite attractive with tow square "towers" on either side. This was also the only ground we visited where there was any proper catering other than "bird seed" available - drinks plus sausages in a large bun. They also had a club shop which they opened up for us but sadly they had sold out of their very attractive "wimpels" (pennants) as I would have liked one for my collection. They also produce a magazine but, as elsewhere, no match programmes.
On a cold afternoon which turned quite misty the game took a long while to spark into life - eventually Litex showed their quality with two well worked goals in the latter part of the second half and lowly Varna's very late goal was merely a consolation. Very disappointing crowd for a side third in the table and with no-one obviously from Varna there was no need for any segregation.
This morning (Monday) it was very foggy and indeed some of our party were hoping the plane was delayed so we could get to Lokomotiv Sofia this afternoon until I pointed out if it was THAT foggy the game would probably be off as well ! Overall impression of Bulgaria is that is quite run down and drab, and despite some very nice buildings Sofia was certainly very dingy. We gradually got used to the cyrillics but it certainly helped us getting around to have a driver with our hired minibus. Congratulations are in order to Stan Green who organised this and the hotel, and I mustn't forget Yorkie Exile who today officially joined the ranks of the wrinklies !
(This post was edited by Veteran on Dec 1, 2008, 9:58 PM)