MY EXPERIENCE AT THE ETERNAL DERBY
After several trips with Homefans, we decided it was time for a new football trip and a new destination. We wanted something special, something crazy that not a lot of people would even think of. Eventually, we decided right away, when we got invited by Homefans to join the small group trip to the Eternal derby in Belgrade. There was not a chance we would miss this one. We asked some mates of us and got a group together of five people.. perfect!
It was a day before the trip started, we were all thrilled and excited to leave on Tuesday morning to Belgrade. But bad luck started at the airport as the weather in the Netherlands as quite bad with a lot of snow. As soon as our plane took off, lightning hit the cockpit of our plane, so we had to return to Amsterdam for inspection. It was a chaos at the airport and the moment we left it was 6 hours later.
Finally, we landed at Belgrade airport and the best football trip of our life started! We joined Homefans and got to learn our local host, Ivan, who joined us for these days. We got picked up by the taxi to drop our bags at our hotel where we decided that is was time to take on some beers and food at the hotel. It was delicious!
We went to the city and joined some local bars where we learned more about Ivan and his great stories about the country, city and of course football. After some beers, he guided us to a crazy nightclub what looked like a big cave. We right away saw that the Serbian girls are with many and looking very hot. It was a great and crazy first night in Belgrade!
The next morning… MATCHDAY! With a big hangover, we got up to join the stadium tour of Maracana, home of Crvena Zvezda. It was great to learn more about the club and to walk through the legendary and intimidating players tunnel.. but it was clear to us we were supporting Ivan’s team: Partizan! After the tour, we went to the Partizan stadium and walked past thousands of armed police officers.. great and very intimidating. That was what we expected and wanted to see in Belgrade after all those stories about this derby.
After a short visit to the fan shop of Partizan, it was time to drink some beers and have a pre-dinner with the group before the match starts. Ivan guided us to some pubs and told, even more, stories about this derby. We were all excited and couldn’t wait for the derby to start!
Finally, it was time for us to head to the stadium. We got asked on our way to the stadium by several Serbian groups where we came from and we were happy Ivan was with us. One wrong answer and we would never make it to the stadium. You could feel the intense atmosphere around the stadium for this match, thousands of police officers lined up to keep the peace. With this derby, that’s one of the most difficult tasks for the police offers.
It was an awesome feeling walking into the stadium. Everyone could stand where they want. We chose to stand near the ultras of Partizan called Grobari. We were all very curious what we were about to see.. 15 minutes.. 10 minutes.. 5 minutes.. and we’re off! The Eternal derby started… Partizan v Red star, one of the most intense derbies in football and we were there!
A lot of noise followed with some fireworks and pyros. After about 15 minutes a sick pyro started at the Red Star stand were the whole side turned red and white with pyro. We were amazed.. but then everyone was watching at the Partizan fans? What was happening? We saw fans running and fighting among themselves in the stand! It was crazy.. surprising for us to see! Everybody was fighting and later on, we understood what was happening in the Partizan group. Groups of young boys tried to take the control of the older groups. Everybody was fighting. The referee whistled and it was halftime.. what?
We haven’t seen anything from the game, have we?! The score was 0-0, but we were focusing on the stands for most of the first half. At this time rumors were that a subgroup (Young Boys) in Grobari tried to take over the control from Alcatraz, but the group got beaten up and also got their clothes thrown away when they were thrown out of the stands by the Partizan fans. Crazy. Second half…
After that crazy first half, the fans of Partizan regrouped and started, again, supporting their team. A great atmosphere again. Finally, we got some time to watch the game. On the pitch, there were also a lot of tough moments. But then, a breakout of Partizan. The player goes into the box and was tackled to the ground. Everybody was watching at the referee. And he did what we hoped for and Partizan deserved it. He gave a penalty to Partizan. Partizan scored the penalty and the stadium exploded.
What followed was a great pyro show from Partizan, with the pyro that was left from the riots in their stand. Red Star equalized 5 minutes before full time. Too bad for Partizan, but we saw an amazing Eternal derby. It had everything we were looking for and it truly is one of the most intense derbies in football.
After the match, our hero Ivan guided us to a great restaurant with fantastic food and a Serbian band. We were celebrating this amazing experience. Loads of beer and many, but I mean many, bottles of Rakija later, we returned to our hotel. Everyone was satisfied with this trip, it’s been an amazing experience in Belgrade. What a trip!
Many thanks to Daniel, Luke and especially, Ivan for arranging and guiding this perfect football trip in Belgrade! We will be back soon again for another trip.
By Kevin van de Zweerde
Note from Homefans: Our friend and loyal traveler, Kevin, is going to Astana for a few months to work there. On behalf of Homefans, thanks for all the fun and your great stories in Belgrade. We wish you all the best on your new adventure and we hope to visit you soon in Astana with a new trip!