We haven’t been following England away for a few years for a number of reasons, but Vinny Goodfield hasn’t got bored yet and headed off to a new country last week. I have to say that reading this I do feel very jealous to have missed this one.
Montenegro away. This was always going to be the stand out trip of the qualifying campaign. As usual cheap flights were booked yonks in advance and @justinloader and I were off to Podgorica via Vienna at 6am Wednesday morning from Heathrow. Felt sorry for the Mrs having to get up at 3.30am to drop me off, sorry!
On arrival at Podgorica we used our bartering skills on the local taxi drivers to take us to the resort where we were staying about an hour away. Budva! The Ibiza of the Balkans. At least it is before all the places close down at the end of summer. Not sure our bartering skills were up to much but the taxi driver drove us there like Ayrton Senna and on 1 or 2 occasions we nearly ended up like him.
Budva was very decent, chilled out, cheap beer and food and lots of little bars and places to eat to explore in the old town. It was actually quite quiet, as most of the other ‘Idiots Abroad’ were coming over from Dubrovnik on Thursday. Got speaking to a Partizan Belgrade fan who asked me who we support. I said oh there’s no point you won’t have heard of them so imagine my shock when he said, ‘ah Bournemouth?
“They are the team that played Yeovil last night in the LDV Vans Cup, no?’ I couldn’t really detract from his knowledge by pointing out that the 3rd and 4th Division Cup is now sponsored by Johnstones Paints. He whipped out a newspaper with all betting odds and fixtures and tables, I loved the way the team names appear in Montenegrin in some some kind of pidgin English, classic!
After too many beers and a dog that followed us home (whom for some reason I decided should be called Zamora) it was back to the resort and flaked out ready for day 2.
Day 2 was certainly a lot more lively as probably another 3 to 400 England fans turned up at Budva including the likes of @pmac82 and @thecherries. I can probably fast forward most of this day, you know what it’s like, a few beers, a sing song etc. We also met some geezer who was so tall he was like Peter Crouch in the Hall of Mirrors. The barmaid told me she supported Red Star Belgrade but didn’t seem to understand when I asked if there is such team as Red Tube Belgrade.
The day of the game and it was back to Podgorica. My friend Pawl (who was born in Edinburgh so why he goes to England games is anyone’s guess) had arranged a minibus. A few other randoms joined us to fill up the space, not sure what they made of us lot! The Idiots Abroad had been given a gift the day before, a glass bottle with a clear liquid in that smelt absolutely rank. Everyone had to have a sip (at least everyone that had some sort of health insurance policy). I figured at least if the bus ran out of petrol we could try sticking that in the tank.
Now Podgorica is pretty small. As usual on these trips the majority of fans congregate around one area, but you had no choice here to be fair as the place was fairly small. The beer was cheap, there was a place opposite the pub selling nice pizza for 1 euro a go and I even got to meet Miss Montenegro, not a bad afternoon.
A bit later on the Montenegro Mob were marched up the road by the old bill, they were keen to make a right racket and let off their flares and smoke bombs but to be fair there was no real animosity despite a few police dogs looking like they were a bit hungry and they weren’t after the cheap pizza over the road. Later on all the Ultras enveloped us and started jumping up and down but again it was a cracking atmosphere. Many of our lot didn’t have enough ‘caps’ to get a ticket from the FA (caps = loyalty points, you get 1 for going to monotonous home games and 2 for the immense away trips) so tickets were procured for 40 Euros from locals but in the highly dangerous (so we were told) home end.
Off to the game and thankfully we got in under cover before it had started absolutely bucketing it down. After a bit of confusion the lads with tickets for the home end were eventually marched around to the away end so all was good.
As for the game, if you were interested you will already know all about it. England played well for 40 minutes, then they didn’t, then Rooney was an Idiot Abroad, then they scored at the end and went absolutely bananas. Incredible scenes as Montenegrin players were jumping into the crowd in their y-fronts.
A mostly good natured pitch invasion ensued from them lot although there were the odd few here and there not being that friendly. Unlike when I started doing away games back in 1998 England fans are a lot more chilled out nowadays and no trouble was ever really likely to break out.
Off back to Budva, had a little dabble with the rugby Saturday morning (not really my thing) before it was off home. I then saw Jono the Forest fan who seemed to have a lot less hair than he did the day before. Apparently some bloke had run up to him, rubbed hair removal cream on his bonce and then ran off. Poor bloke had to go to a Montenegrin barbers and have the lot shaved off. The bloke who did it must have been a sandwich short of a picnic as he also got 2 other English lads, a homeless person and bizarrely 2 dogs also. Poor old Jono having to explain himself at work Monday morning…
On arrival back at Heathrow news started to filter through from Budva that a bunch of drunken Bournemouth fans had entered a tug of war contest and won 1st prize. Nothing ever surprises me any more on these trips.
You can follow Vinny and his frequent trips via Twitter at @Richmond_Red.