Its not Benidorm - Anzhi away Eyewitness Report
Posted by john_mac on November 11, 2012, 12:38:40 AM
When the 31st August UEFA Cup draw threw up a group game Anzhi v Liverpool, the first question was obvious- “Where the fuck’s that?”. A quick google revealed a place called Makhachkala in Dagestan, a second search revealed “No flights were found to match you request.” Now that pricked a little bit of interest, the interest didn’t last long when it was revealed that they play there European games in Moscow.
I travelled to a bleak Moscow in 1992, there wasn’t much there to be honest, save to a few mad Russians hell bent on ripping you off, five dollars were the only English words I heard in the place. Everything was buttons there, but there was fuck all to spend the buttons on.
One crazy bastard was trying to sell me a pair of yellow cowboy boots in the ground, he wasn’t too impressed that I wasn’t interested, so bladdered me over the head with them when Mark Wright scored! The game itself was probably most memorable for David Burrows flapping around in goal after Grobellaar had been sent off on the way to 4-2 defeat. Don’t think Bruce had took a backhander here though, they’d have had to pay him in cabbages!
10 years on and we were back in Moscow, Spartak again the opposition but this time in the Champions League, Houllier’s best team were way too strong for the Russians as the European footballer of the year (or that little twat as he’s now known) scored a hat-trick in a three one win. It was fucken freezing cold that night, in a small open stadium, I think that they were rebuilding the national stadium.
If anything, Moscow had become even more corrupt than it was ten years earlier, the bizzies were all on the take, just stopping fellas and taking their passports or dough or both. The place had become more Westernised, but Gorbachev’s Glasnost had done nothing for the Moscow that I could see, seeing a smack head getting his head pummelled by the bar staff in one bar, because he was pestering us for something or other, well it didn’t help. Wouldn’t be going back.
So, Anzhi were to play in Moscow, surely by 2012 we wouldn’t have to through all the same shite, planes, visas, cold, shite food, shite ale, ahh fuck it, the flights were cheap enough even if the times weren’t great, booked. On-line visas? Nah, they’re having none of that, you can fill in a ‘simple’ form and post it off. The ‘simple’ on-line form only takes about an hour, includes questions about yer ma’s maiden name, your work contact details and all the countries you’ve visited in the past ten years. Just a fucken joke, then your invite details, 2012 and you need an invite. Of course, it’s just a rip, you contact a London based Russian travel agency give them £14 for each invite and an hour later you have it!
I was a bit stuck because I had a trip to Berlin booked, brilliant place, to see the excellent ‘Tallest man on Earth’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8Twcp46kT4
) a couple of weeks ago, so couldn’t send my passport off. Decided to keep hold and take mine and my mates to the Embassy in London. Off I went, forms, invites, passports, photos and dough. Turned up, clocked on, got fucked off- “He can’t have one, he’s self employed!” – what?- “We need bank statement to prove that they have the money to sustain themselves in Russia”- Oh Fuck off, will ya? Every big city in Europe is stocked up with Russian gangsters now and these are acting like you’d want to stay illegally in Moscow? Come on, its not Sydney mate.
My long suffering mate was made up when I told him that he’d have to fuck off from the job and email some bank statements through, just a joke, two hours later, they received the email and I got the Visas, another £340 down for four of them, including four separate deliveries charges to the same address. Anyway enough of the moaning and on with the trip.
Two of us left Manchester, Moscow bound Wednesday lunchtime, a few hours in the lounge in Zurich en-route served to guarantee that the journey went a bit quicker, I think said lounge will still be stocking up on wine, vodka & Bailey’s, still its what its there for. There were more on the flight than I had expected, but I was more than surprised to see that those who had booked with Thomas Cooke where on the same flight. There were lads who’s got the flight ranging from £160 to £220, Thomas Cooke, I think, was £559 plus you had to get your own Visa, simply robbing bastards, if anything they’d get the flight cheaper being ABTA bonded travel agents. Taking the piss and the clubs deal with them, just an unholy alliance designed to rip off reds. They’re talking the piss every week, home games too, with this gold, silver & bronze rip off shite, but the European trips, charging brewsters (£280 for a day trip to Udinese), cancelling at short notice so you can’t re-arrange, well they are on-top simple as that, something needs to be done about it, £239 for Spurs at home if you fancy it!
Arriving in Moscow during the night, well it was going back to 1992, passport control staring at yer passy and up at yer grid a thousand times before letting you through, grim place, taxi driver with a leather and muzzy, looking at you blankly before calling another cabby over. 2000 roubles, well, to be fair, forty nicker’s not that bad for an half hour taxi ride, but just could help but think you were preparing yourself to get ripped at every opportunity.
Bumped into a few of the usual suspects around the hotel but was a bit pissed so we got our head down, didn’t realise how bleak the gaff was until I got up. Not even a basin in the room, doomed, went down the passage for a shower, fuckinell, Carry on Camping wasn’t in it, I’m sure there was a Russian version of Syd James knockin round somewhere taking a nicker off anyone who walked past. Made it worse when I went up to me mates room & he was dossing there with a flat screen telly, ensuite an all. I’m sure some Russian God of shite trips has got it in for me.
Trying to find your way around Moscow is a bit of challenge, you can’t find a taxi, fucked if you know where you’re going on the Metro and walking is anyone’s guess. Nobody understands a word that you are saying but they are dead good at shouting at you, and eachother! Even tried pointing at texts from mates in bars, no joy. Ah fuck it we’ll go in this one get a bite to eat and have a bevy or two, surely they’ll get us a cab, no chance! Wouldn’t mind but the bar we were looking for was about 100 yards from where we were!
Did the tourist thing, said the two words that surely any Moscovite would know, ‘Red Square’. Got a direction point and headed down there, least helped me get my bearings, I can’t think of a place you could go three times and not have a clue how to get around. Red Square worked though, remembered a couple of gaffs and got the obligatory tourist photos, managed to steer clear of the bad hat sellers too, third time lucky!
Found a couple of Western bars and we met up with some mates, ale was pricey, but soon enough found a street of local bars, where the ale was both strong and Russian, knew it’d play havoc with my iffy digestive system but what the fuck? Nah it was sound enough and there were about 10 of us having a laugh around a few of the bars, so was sound. Scran was a bit more difficult to order, can’t do that MacDonald’s shite which is everywhere and no matter what you seemed to order off Russian menus these tiny fried chicken things seemed to appear.
A few hours and good few Russian crowns later and it was time to go the game, didn’t fancy the Metro so the four of us decided to get a cab about twenty past eight for a nine o’clock kick off, won’t be much on the road, at least that’s what I persuaded the others. First driver we approached wanted a minimum 3000 reubles, fuck off, sixty nicker, second one took a score but took his plates straight off, so was up to something. Traffic was a nightmare, when we got to the ground there was nearly half an hour gone but still about 50-60 skins hanging around the turnies, looking for it.
Sloped in. Getting in the end was a challenge though, deffo no bunkers- two checks, bar code, passport check, metal detector check which I, inevitably, set off, third ticket check and another passy check to get into the end. There were more bizzies than us around the end and more army than bizzies outside. Thought the turn out was fair enough, probably about 400, though we sold well more tickets with Udinese coming up, where we’ll take a decent crowd.
Match itself, well its getting a bit grim these teams we are putting out for the cup games. I’m not naive, I know what the obsession with the top four is all about, but lets be honest, it’ll be more than a battle this season. Me, I’d rather lift the cup in Amsterdam than rejoice in finishing ahead of Everton or Spurs, but that’s life, I suppose. I remember 2001 and how the cup runs turned around the league form, I just think that something needs to give the players some confidence now, you can see its low. Don’t get me wrong the August debacle, Ayre & the owners, well I’m far from sold, but we’ve known what we’ve had since before the window closed & to be honest, if the owners and chief exec thought it was enough, well they are round the fucken bend. If anything the manager has been lucky with the showing of some of the youngsters.
If we had put a stronger team out we’d have won and been through, maybe the same could be said for Udinese or Swansea at home, who knows? We always knew the small squad would cause us problems, at least we have Joe Cole and what a performance he threw in. I’ll be honest enough to admit I was happy with his signing but his progress, or lack of it, at the club well its unparalleled.
A few of the lads did OK and we did have a few opportunities, it was a bad mistake for their goal and to be honest, they were shite but still beat us to sit top of the group. Its still in our hands and we should be Berne at home, which will likely put us through but its making it hard.
Surreal at the end of the game when the neutral section was let out but the Anzhi and Liverpool fans kept in. They then let Anzhi out and eventually us, imagine gtting kept in for a home game while they disperse the neutrals? I hate getting kept in at the match, does my head in. Outside we were met by what was literally an army, thousands of them and traipsed round to the Metro and back to central Moscow.
The usual suspects headed back to ‘The Old School Bar’ where for a few hours reminiscing ensued as the lager flowed. Some of those games seem a lifetime ago now, they really do. We have to get right behind the manager, but its going to be a really important few months for him and for the club. The people in charge, well I don’t think they’ve got a fucken clue but that’s another matter. We need to get some results, this season is starting to feel a bit like last year in terms of talking about decent performances but results going against us, last year at least we had the cups, we can’t afford to slip meekly out of them this season.
Another late night and an early start, another mad cabby taking forty rips, driving while farting and eating an apple, the ignorant twat, wants to use the dough to bin that Lord Anthony jacket and buy himself a decent coat and a fabreeze for the car! Jim Beglin, without his Man U scarf, was at the airport, and a few of the potless Thomas Cooke brigade.
It had to happen, Zurich to Manchester flight delayed, while that Russian God was sitting laughing his bollox of at me! Moscow? As bleak as ever and not my cup of tea, still won’t be going back in a hurry. Nah it was a laugh really, roll on 2022!!
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