Read, Write, Run, Roam

Red Star at Night, Housewife’s Delight


I recently crossed an item off my “Belgrade Bucket List:” going to a Red Star Football (soccer) game. Going to a Belgrade football game is not for the faint-hearted or easily deafened. It’s a nonstop cacophony of drums, chants and really colorful curse words. And the game is fun, too.

Red Star and Partizan are Belgrade’s two professional football teams. Much like Mets and Yankees fans, Beogradjani swear their allegiance once and early. Enthusiasm is infectious, but also a bit nerve-wracking. European football games can get rowdy; Red Star games are no exception. Fans get into frenzies and fights are common. Belgrade football violence has made headlines several times: once in 2008 when a policemen was attacked with a flare at a Red Star match, and a year later, when a French man died of injuries sustained at a Partizan match. When the two teams play each other, police officers stand guard all over Belgrade to prevent rioting. It’s advised that foreigners do not attend Red Star-Partizan matches.

We weren’t going to press our luck, so we went to a more subdued match against BSK Borca with Serbian friends and our two latest guests: Kokodakati (the cackler, for his outrageous laugh) and Maćeha (stepmother), since Miloš acted like she was his new owner. Traitor.

As soon as we entered the stadium, we could hear drums and singing. The stadium was half-empty, but the northern end was packed with Delije (heroes), the hardcore football fans. Throughout the entire game Delije beat drums, unfurled banners and chanted songs. Kokodakati has seen football matches all over Europe, and said that nothing could rival the Red Star fans. (Except, perhaps, Paritzan fans…)

I found myself watching the Delije instead of the athletes as they lit flares and threw them at stadium officials. The officials calmly placed them in a pool of water built for this purpose. We heard that fans are searched upon entering the stadium, but people still find a way to bring in flares and other items.

That's the "flare pool" on the right

Here’s a short video of the madness, including a flare thrown onto the track. It’s too bad that baseball is not a big sport here, because some of these guys would have great pitching arms.

What is it like when the stadium is FULL?

Despite the mayhem, I felt safe. We sat on the west side of the stadium with other couples and families. Compared to the northern Delije side, the west side felt practically funereal. That was fine with me, though. I was exhausted just watching the Delije’s nonstop moving and singing. I asked, “if they do this throughout the game, how do they celebrate a goal?” I soon had an answer.

It was an outrageous sight—the north end looked like it was on fire, and people were yelling as if Red Star had won the World Cup. We cheered for our new team and saw Sveti Sava light up in the distance. A Belgrade football match is something to attend with care—but something you’ll never forget.

*This post’s title is derived from the English expression, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning”

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6 responses

  1. Agnieszka

    Dear RHOB,

    I am glad you enjoyed European football. I am not a big fun of this but on my Belgrade Bucket List was KK Partizan match (basketball). My fav pijama-t-shirt I have adopted in NYC after my boyfriend(recently Muz) remained me this every day. Until the day I got tickets to the match. Was crazy! Loved it. Black&White stripes around me.
    But hey nothing compares with Rugby match in Scotland or Wales!! You gotta try this perhaps as Europe Bucket List?
    Regards,

    September 26, 2011 at 3:39 pm

  2. I like the idea of a European bucket list! I haven’t been to a professional rugby match but I would love to see one, especially an All Blacks match.

    September 26, 2011 at 5:00 pm

  3. Bojan

    Dear RHOB,

    glad you enjoyed soccer game, only thing is you choose wrong team to watch.(or sport for what it matters)
    You got to excuse me but as you already know there is much of antagonism between them and us.
    Just so you can relate to what Agnieszka is talking about there is link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npdIe_5L_34&feature=related

    I’m sorry that you leaving Belgrade, but I know exactly how you feel right now.That city gets hold of you against all odds.You nailed that in your post What’s Belgrade like?
    I told you already that I’m amazed how you can pick up nuances and interpret them right.

    So did you try those raspberry jam filed pastries form Trpkovic bakery already?

    Also I would like to stay in touch if you don’t mind, left my email.

    Best

    September 26, 2011 at 6:31 pm

  4. Bogi

    Just to congratulate you RHOB, for choosing the right team! 😀

    And yes, atmosphere from this match can’t compare to derby with Partizan or some matches against big European teams, you must see that. (check Youtube to gain some insight)

    September 26, 2011 at 8:54 pm

  5. Readers, click on Bojan’s link! It’s amazing. Now I have another item for my Belgrade Bucket List…

    I haven’t been to the bakery but I will go this week. I’ve been trying not to overeat just because I’m leaving Belgrade, but it’s a losing battle. Too many good things here.

    Thanks for staying in touch! I can also be reached at rhobelgrade@gmail.com

    September 26, 2011 at 9:54 pm

  6. Bogi

    ^^ 😀 😀 “They” even stole that song from us, really lame 🙂

    Here are some youtube links I’ve been talking about:

    Red Star – Barcelona

    and Red Star Bayern Munich
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpJ_L0Q18Kc (BBC video)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMZ4h6jyQg8&feature=related (watch from 0:40)

    Cheers!

    September 27, 2011 at 12:07 am

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