A Travellerspoint blog

September 2011

Middlesbrough Ultra's??? Pah....

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Middlesbrough Ultras pah?

I have been to the Riverside Stadium where I have been mixing it with the Middlesbrough FC Ultras in the South East Corner. Man, those guys are mental, jumping up and down, flying the flag for Middlesbrough. Adding a bit of that electric atmosphere to what would have been a dull midweek game at the Riverside. The fact that there are only 27 of them makes no odds. They are a threatening bunch of kids. I saw them once all do the conga and then turn their backs from the pitch. The stewards can’t control the volume of people standing and shouting they are totally outnumbered. It is completely crazy, of course I felt slightly intimidated when I was there that one time, but knowing I was a Boro faithful I figured I was in their camp and that I would be safe enough. Phillip, the 15 year old ringleader from Nunthorpe School was giving orders to his contingent of school disciples and they did as they were told. He started the chanting, he would instigate the dancing and the chanting. My favourite was when they all started to play tigs off ground. Man those guys really know how to tear a stadium up.

So I figured that I have been there and done it, I have mixed it with one set of ultras, so what is the big deal, bigger numbers equals a bigger game of tigs off ground ey?

The Riga match I went to was strange, no tigs, no dancing. A total of nine away supporters holding a banner up “Noone likes us but we don’t care”. There were no police or stewards on duty, the 100 or so home supporters had paid the ridiculous fee of about £1 for their ticket. Beer was being sold for £1.20 and a programme was 20p. Most of the home supporters didn’t have their own teeth, I'm not sure if that guaranteed you free entry to the game or some sort of concession. It was an embarrassing episode. The game finished 1-0 to the home side, there was some applause, but I just wish my mate Phillip was there to tear this place up and show them what real supporters get up to.

a quiet game of football at Riga Vs FK Ventspils...
Check out the away fans, try and count them...

In St Petersburg, it was a different story.

5 times I was frisked going into the ground. The first were the riot police, they were fully kitted up with the helmets, batons, body armour and in the numbers like you wouldn’t believe. Then there was the second layer, the police, don’t trust the police I have been told. He grabbed my nuts to see that I wasn’t carrying anything there, he wasn’t impressed, I was nervous wasn’t i? Then there were guards, then there were Army, and then finally there were the gates, you had to pass through a metal detector and get frisked one more time before you were allowed in.

Poor Phillip, I pictured him stood there trying to do the jovial conga trying to convince the Zenith fans that he was a proper Ultra, yeah honest man, My Mother says I'm crackers… “Watch this boys” dancing the jig, being all jovial and that. What would these boys make of his antics?

I had gone with Jack, a guy who was doing the Trans-Siberian from East to West and had been teaching English in Taiwan. We blended in, we had our hoodies up, scarves on wrapped round our head and watched the proceedings. The chanting was incredible, big TV screens around the stadium orchestrated songs by scrolling the words of the home sides anthems. For the illiterates at the match, their job was just to look menacing, and that was probably about 95% of them. We tried to look menacing, but I was brought up in Boro and our Ultras are A* pupils from the local comprehensive from nice neighbourhoods.

Jack and I got cocky, we had a conversation out aloud about football. We got sussed; some men turned around and spoke to us in Russian… Shit….. “Nyet Ruski”…. “Where you from?” he asked in English, it always surprises me how these illiterate unemployable Vodka guzzling, “I've got no forehead” Russians can speak English. A conversation went on about Roman Abramovich and Arshavin, loose connections with Russia and Zenit St Petersburg. Ruski started conversing with his friends, more of them arrived and then at half time they all left and then arrived with more. I started panicking; I needed silly Phillip to start dancing to create a distraction so that Jack and I could get the hell out of here. Silly Phillip had got me in this mess, thinking I was all hard-core.

Flares went up in the stand opposite, flags got torched the noise escalated. The naked away fans made a run for the home supporters, the riot police waded in with their batons, a few got over the fence but were kicked senseless by some guy with a brolley.

“What do you reckon Jack, we should make a beeline for the exit on 80 minutes ey?” It was a rhetorical question.

On 80, we both made a dart for the exit; the away supporters were doing a fine job of creating a distraction for us to get out of there. We shot out of there pushing past anyone in the way, head down and hands in our pockets.

We got out of the ground, away from the stadium, through the barriers of police and into the Metro, no sign of a waiting party to greet us which was nice. Back to the hostel, give me a beer I need the toilet!!!

Wait till I see Silly Phillips Parents.

Riot Police
More of them!!

Away Fans

Article By David Beattie of Rounton Coffee

Posted by beatski 10:37 Archived in Russia Tagged football petersburg st Comments (2)

Ceefax Page 888 Needed I Think....

rain 15 °C
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Ceefax page 888 all round or wot? – Moscow 24th September

I avent really been one to talk proper queens English n that, and no one sed I talk that RP n all that carry on. So its been gettin proper annoyin when people av been saying that they don’t understand a word I av been sayin, I meen I am from Middlesboro, but I don’t talk like proper Boro or out, I was brought up a bit better than that an I don’t talk through my nose like them bad boyz from Grove Hill and Grangetown do. So I waz with these peeps who reakoned that they have never eard an accent like this one befor, like. Thought I woz from Ireland like or sommat, or Scottissh, I meen whats that all about ey?? I'm a proper northerner and don’t talk like those southern fairy boyz in the capital. Godz countree I'm from aren’t I, yeah man, boro is class innit? Me Mam taut me ow to speek and I'm proper proud of her for that for shizzle.

Anywayz, so me new marra’s were always tellin me to slow down wen I'm speekin cos they couldn’t make out wot I was sayin, sed I woz speekin too fast n that. Fuck off man, we invented the language didn’t we, they got a lot to learn from me like? Its them that’s got the funny accents like, n I don’t know wot they are sayin. I jus smile and nod me ed like a nice English boy I am. Like me Mam would have told me to do.

So the werst time was wen ma feet were killin me, an I was proper nackered, told em I wanted to grab some scran didn’t a, and get tucked in to some bevvies n that. Didn’t have a fucking clue wot I was on about, dickeads.

I told em, its you dat needs subtitles mate, have you got page 888 goin on or what, cant understand a word your sayin kidda. nodded though didn he, smiled n that, maybe like his Ma told him to do n that, gud lad.

I dunno, these foreners, think they can speek proper English.

So I ad some bevvies didn’t a, got a bit pissed, was well wrecked wasn’t a? didn’t feel me feet after that like did a? me n me new marra just sat there smilin n that, proper buzzin weren’t we, class innit. Couldn’t ger ome like, lived up on the perple line on the underground n that, underground was shut as fuck, had to gerra gypsy cab, like one that you flag down n that, was a bit dodgy like, couldn’t understand a word he woz sayin, sed it ded loud an all, dunno mate, just wasn’t appenin. Ere mate you, you understand Eeenglish like or wot?

Ad to walk ome didn’t we, proper gutted, pissing down wasn’t it? Got proper soaked n me legs started knacking all over again.

Me marra just smiling all night, whats his crack, don’t he know what I'm goin on about or wot? Dickhead.

Article By David Beattie of Rounton Coffee

Posted by beatski 10:31 Archived in Russia Tagged foreign pronunciation ceefax received Comments (0)

Moscow to Yekaterinburg

overcast 10 °C
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Moscow to Yekaterinburg – 26th September

I am sat on the train from Moscow to Yekaterinburg and have been on here for exactly one hour. I have got approximately 29 hours left to see out before I arrive at my destination. I have been looking forward to this journey for a while, a real Trans-Siberian experience crossing the plains of Russia, but stopping of at Yekaterinburg to break up the trip to Irkutsk by a third. I had spoilt myself by getting the Red Arrow from St Petersburg to Moscow, that train was a Russian institution. It was luxury on tracks, comfortable beds, well trained staff that spoke perhaps a little bit of English. The train was a Russian Heritage, so much so that just before it departed the Russian national anthem played, and again once it arrived the speakers at Moscow played it again. This train was a treasured Russian asset and it was a pleasure to ride on.

The difference between that train and the one I travel in today is like comparing the relative comfort of a British Jail with that of a GULAG camp. Today I am in that camp and doing hard labour with all of the other cretins. I am in second class and dread to think what third class is like. The compartment is dressed in 70s style wooden style laminate décor with a fragrance of Marlboro. Every 5 minutes some Bershka visits the compartment, spits something out in Russian and when no answer is the reply, or if I am confident enough perhaps a ‘NYET!!’ she may disappear which doesn’t discourage the next one who is waiting in line to sell us some Christmas decorations or a Scalectric set.

1 hour done 29 still to do…….

So I have now been on the train for 7 hours, I have got accustomed to the heat and humidity that they create in these sauna like holes. This room is about 27 degrees and it is no suprising that the four of us occupying it are in a vegetative state. I am in a room with a young mother with her son and another woman who got on after the first stop past Moscow. The second woman speaks some English but I have had no further dialogue with her other than her asking me if I will be changing into something more comfortable. Not sure about the motive behind that question but nevermind, I will never understand some of the idiosyncrasies that some (particularly Russian) people have.

I was waiting to speak with the carriage lady who serves hot water and who attends each carriage. Now I know for a fact that she could see me, I stood there for an elongated period purposely to see who would flinch first, she could see me out of the corner of her eye. It seemed that time stood still and she was motionless. So I tapped on the door with a great big smile, ‘Hello, can you help me please’. I'm not quite sure what game the stone faced ox was playing but these encounters with Russians have been quite a common occurrence. They do tend to thaw slightly when they realise that your ‘one of those idiots from abroad’ rather than another Russian. Russians actually do not like other Russians, I have learnt that much at least.

In the City of Vladmir I was joined on the carriage by three guys from England, which has had a neutral effect. On the one hand I am pleased of course that I can relate and communicate with these guys, but it is also an easy way out of not attempting to converse with the locals, not that they an inviting lot as I have just said.

7 hours done, 23 still to do…..

It got pretty dark early, perhaps as we are travelling east and travelling through a couple of time zones, I'm not exactly sure of exactly how many zones as they have this annoying rule of only using Moscow time for departures and arrivals, so in actual fact when I thought I would be arriving in Yekaterinburg at 16:30 I will in fact be arriving at 18:30. So that means of course I will have travelled through two time zones. Nevertheless it is quite annoying, my train ticket to Irkutsk I had planned to arrive in the city for a reasonable time, I have just also learnt that I will be arriving at 02:30 local time. I got to say, that that is a great time to see the underbelly of the city and a good time to get pistol whipped by some scroat in a leather jacket, so perhaps I will use one of those Gypsy taxi’s on that occasion, hmmmm, maybe I need to ponder that one. So it got dark around the 8 o'clock mark and things got pretty quiet in the cabin, I think they must have turned up the temperature to knock everybody out but there was not much activity past that time. I was a little surprised by this, thinking that the Vodka would have come out, of which I was grateful as I hate the stuff and I cant take drinking it. So it turned out that everybody tucked themselves in and got comfortable for the night. I finished reading my book “Hells Angels” by Hunter S. Thompson then dozed off.

Strange sensation being bounced around whilst being asleep, the sound of the train horn bellowing randomly through the night, night time stops people rolling in and rolling out. I woke up this morning and the occupants of my room had changed and I hadn’t noticed. Better check my bag make sure the thieving kid who was eyeing up my iTouch hasn’t made off with it.

I was brave enough to make the journey to the restaurant cabin, and I wish I hadn’t bothered. I wanted water, I felt like a dehydrated raisin when I woke up. The women greeted me with their usual hostility, I in turn smiled and pointed to water. 125 roubles a water?? Its around 48 roubles to the pound so in rough terms that’s £2.50 for a 33cl bottle!! Bloody nora!! “Dva” “dva” she kept on saying, not a chance…. She was trying to sell me two, I have no idea why, no “Nyet, Adin, adin!!!” I got my water and I got my change, 25 roubles short, “nougat, nougat” she poisoned me with her blank expression. She thought it was a healthy exchange and that she was doing me a favour by giving me a small square of chocolate nougat rather than the rest of the change I was expecting. That’s very nice of you, thank you so much, I am forever in your debt…..

I looked around the counter, I saw endless amounts of Vodka for sale, some beer, they were all much cheaper than the water I had bought, no wonder it’s a nation of Vodka lovers. I wanted Fruit, just a bit of fruit please….. I didn’t fancy the exchange, I knew it would be pointless, they wouldn’t have it and I would probably be given an apple flavoured fruit pastel instead…

32 hours done 8 hours to go…..

Russian pot noodles are the way forward on these trains. Each compartment has a Russian ‘lady’ who looks after you. There is a samovar in each compartment which gives free hot water, use this for your cuppa or pot noodles. Only the Russians have their own version of it, in a nice bowl, but if does the trick….. still want some fruit though desperate for the stuff.

Had a brief stop in Perm where the train changes engines. On the platform locals were selling drinks and snacks. “Bottle of water please Marra”. I was reluctant to give this guy a 100 when the cost was 50, did he have change would I get a chocolate button back in return? He pulls out this enormous wad of cash and flicks a fifty my way. “No worries about change with you” I say out aloud. 1.5 Litres of water for 50 roubles Vs 0.33 Litres for 150 Roubles, yeah man bargain, only I taste it and realise the damn thing is salted?!! Every day I learn more….. but I can’t explain this one?

Hang on, stop the press…. Old bag lady is hovering up in my compartment…..

30 hours down, 6 to go, and I'm told were running late…..

Sweet, we arrive on time, at 16:30 but it is two hours ahead of Moscow time so its 18:30. I have arrived in Yekaterinburg, famed for the control of the Russian Maffia, The Qwerty Keyboard monument, an overpopulated city and pollution. Its going to be great….





Article By David Beattie of Rounton Coffee

Posted by beatski 10:25 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

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