Sep 16, 2018, 5:28 PM
Location: Outer Cheltenhamshire
Team(s): Cheltenham Town
Post #1 of 3
Pizzaman and I had two more days in Kosovo before flying home. When we had booked the trip, the Kosovo FA website was showing a full fixture list for the Wednesday. This is all well and good, but one is never certain how accurate the web sites would be. We were hoping for a mix of fixtures, to allow us games on Tuesday and Wednesday, but also had the option of travelling back to Macedonia to see their U-21 team, which had a match against Armenia.
Fixtures around here are your flexible friend, (or foe). We had considered second division Macedonian fixture for the Saturday. A full set of fixtures were still showing on international sites such as soccerway as late as Friday, while the official site was still showing fixtures for the previous season. In order to confirm fixtures, I tried heading for each club’s internet presence, (which is mainly facebook). It soon became clear that these fixtures had all been put back a week.
As it turned out, the Kosovan fixtures lined up well, with the midweek list remaining in place, and two matches switching from Wednesday to Tuesday. I fancied travelling to see Drita, their ground in Gjilan was less than 60 minutes’ drive from Prishtina. This was because the club had won the title last season, and then had moderate success in getting through the Champions League Preliminary matches (they beat Santa Columba and Lincoln Red Imps, both games played in Gibraltar). Their European hopes ground to a halt, as one would expect over the next two rounds, as they were beaten in the Champions League by Malmo, and in the Europa League by the Luxembourg champions, F91 Dudelange.
By co-incidence, Kosovo’s only Europa League entrant, Prishtina (runners-up and cup winners) also beat a Gibraltarian team (Europa) and then lost on penalties to a Luxembourger (Fola Esch). With the new national stadium not opening until the Kosovan Super Cup in mid-August, all this season’s home European games were played in Mitrovice.
Drita’s fixture was confirmed for Wednesday, so we took an almost random pick from the two games on Tuesday, ending up at Drenica Skenderaj.
For our pre-match excursion, we headed well beyond our destination, to the
Monastery of the Patriarchate of Pec (Serbian Spelling). The journey and the destination showed something of the recent conflicts in this area. We passed a number of memorials and graveyards close to the roadside, invariably decorated with an Albanian flag. These appear to be memorials to skirmishes within the Kosovan war.
It seems that things are now calmed down so as on the surface, anti-Serbian feeling is limited to trying to spray paint out one of the spellings on road signs showing in both Albanian and Serbian. I am not so certain that the same would have been reported had we travelled further north to Mitrovice, where there are still Serb dominated areas.
The town of Peja (Albanian Spelling) itself, was a busy center, but we did not see anything of particular note. When we arrived at the monastery, we had to pass a guard to enter who studied our passports in detail. Generally, the local population are not permitted to enter what is a holy site for the Serbian Orthodox church. The monastery itself was beautiful and serene, although photographs of the inside are not permitted, so I can only show the outside.
Heading back along the smaller road to Skenderaj, we passed even more memorials to people killed in the Kosovan in an attempt to keep the monastery under the control of one country, and not another.
We passed through the town of Skenderaj, practically without stopping, settling at the stadium which is close to a by-pass road to the East side. The are plenty of shops around, including a number of units built under the stand, which therefore had sloping ceilings. Having confirmed no drinks were on sale inside, we stopped briefly before going in.
The admission charge was €2, and the ground has a long concrete terrace on both sides. On the side we entered, seats were attached to the middle section, and the length was partially covered, with the steel structure rising above the terrace, but only giving cover over a small portion of the accommodation. It is more effective in providing shade than shelter from the rain.
On our side of the ground, just above the entrance were a group of away fans, while singing section of the home fans were centrally placed on the far side.
Overall, we estimated about 800 people in the ground. The game itself was not one to live in the memory long. There was actually plenty of incident, but little of it came to anything and in the end, the game fizzled down to a scoreless draw. Both sets of supporters being applauded by their players at the end
Another night in Prishtina, there are a few local beers that differ from standard lagers, and they are quite pleasant to drink. We set off on the Wednesday morning to see Champions KF Drita. They share the city stadium (Stadiumi i Qytetit) in Gjilan with SC Gjilani, the away team from out Tuesday game.
On the way out, we diverted to stop at the Marble Caves. These are a fairly newly discovered cave system not far from the capital which are being developed into a tourist attraction (again with the help of EU grant money). Some interesting rock formations within the caves, but while we were there few takers for the short tour.
The city of Gjilan itself has a bustling centre, full of people going about their business on a sunny lunchtime, with the many cafes busy. We noticed a few replica shirts for the Drita club here, with slight uncertainty as to whether the club is KF Drita, Drita FC or even KF Drita FC. KF is, of course the Albanian initials for football club.
The ground was similar to the one the day before. No cover in this case, but concrete terracing steps on both sides. No seats have been fitted either. In the middle of one side is a three storey building. On the ground floor are dressing rooms, and also toilets. Probably not enough to pass step 6 grading in England. Above this a few rooms used as offices and a terrace where chairs are put out for committee men, visiting officials and press. I was told the top floor was used by broadcasters, even though one camera man was with the press. The whole area was very cramped, but did provide a very good view of the proceedings.
Although the result was very different, the game was similar in style to the previous days’ fare. Plenty of incident, but most of it not threatening to have an end result. You could barely get through a single minute without a couple of misplaced passes and the referee blowing up for either a mistimed challenge or because he had been fooled by a player rolling around in agony on the ground.
At this match, there were no visible away fans, and the home fans, who call themselves the Intelektualet (a contraction of the words for intellectual and toilet) were more numerous and noisier than the fans in Skenderaj. Now this is all fine and dandy for a successful team, but Drita had already lost two of their three games this season and looked hardly likely to retain the title. For three years before winning the championship, the club had struggled and had to get through a relegation play-off. As the game went against the home side – they conceded a goal in each half, with an equaliser only in the first period, half filled bottles of water were thrown into the pitch. This was annoyance both with their own play and every decision or dive that went against them.
At the end of the game, the team did go over to the fans and gained some applause, but as the coach went over and the fans had crossed the fence to untie their banners, it appeared discussions were getting more heated. By the time we got back to Prishtina, the team were looking for a new coach.
There is a repeat of this report, with pictures at https://www.facebook.com/leo.hoenig
Fat AND Pompous.
The proof that you can have too much of a good thing
Now blogging at http://www.leohoenig.com
First Team Star
Sep 16, 2018, 10:45 PM
Post #2 of 3
I am not so certain that the same would have been reported had we travelled further north to Mitrovice, where there are still Serb dominated areas.
I went to Mitrovice on my trip to Kosovo as those cheeky chappies in the Kosovo FA snuck in a mid week round of games after I booked my flight meaning Pristina where I was staying were no longer at home.
Then (May 2016) it was very calm although the FCO did still advise against all but essential travel to the Serb-controlled north of the town. The infamous bridge was being renovated with a view to complete re-opening for traffic later that year. It was being guarded by a few bored looking Italian troops who spent most of their time chatting with local kids. There was, however, some barbed wire rolled up at either end in case of something kicking off more unrest. You were able to walk cross the bridge, and another narrow pedestrian footbridge a couple of hundred yards along the river, and people were doing so constantly without incident on Saturday lunchtime.
The northern half of town seemed a bit quieter than the southern, although I didn't explore too far, due to time constraints and some pretty lousy weather but I did go and visit an orthodox church on the hill. Everything is in Serbian - shops, notices, billboards etc, in a mix of cyrillic and latin versions, though I can't vouch for the road signs, will see if any photos have any in them. The shops only take Dinars (and probably euros at a push). There is a typical 'martyrs memorial' at the Serb end of the bridge.
And to be fair to the locals over there, I did spot an 'Oxford' that had spray painted out on a road sign in Shrivenham at the weekend
(This post was edited by Wheelbarrow on Sep 16, 2018, 10:46 PM)
Man City Transfer Target!
Sep 17, 2018, 11:48 AM
Location: The North. 'Ich hassen lehm kopfs'
Team(s): Crewe Alex and obviously England.(Unlike a lot on here)
Post #3 of 3
With the new national stadium
not opening until the Kosovan Super Cup in mid-August, all this season’s home European games were played in Mitrovice.
I am not so certain that the same would have been reported had we travelled further north to Mitrovice, where there are still Serb dominated areas
====================================== Not new
ae you already know , renovated. And Serbian based teams !
I visited KF Trepca on 28/10/09 & Trepca 89 on 18/11/17.
July 1, 2018 to June 30,2019 = 253 /212 / 41 (You know my rules) @ 20 / 05 / 2019.
Benelux = Bel = 0-0-0-(0-0-0)-(0-0-0-0-0). Lux = 0-0. Neth-= 0-0-0-(0 - 0).
Now blogging at https://eccentricity.video.blog/author/dadofdottie/