At Kosovo’s national stadium, we’re outed as “Not Ultras”

April 2023.

Picking maps to illustrate our foreign travels is always tricky, but this one might work for Kosovo.

That reminds me; we still need to do Belgrade and Sofia. Bass recommendations for those places welcome.

Pristina was a joy. The mix of brutalist housing, international businesses, crafty cafes and a bit of old city was invigorating.

There wasn’t much left of the old city. Wiki says “The Yugoslav communist slogan at the time was uništi stari graditi novi (destroy the old, build the new). In a misguided effort to modernize the town, communists set out to destroy the Ottoman bazaar and large parts of the historic centre, including mosques, catholic churches and Ottoman houses“.

So the old bazaar is now a series of green markets under canvas. But at least they have vegetables.

We had three nights in Pristina, one of which reserved for a day trip to ancient Prizren, so Day 2 was the tricky one.

Somehow, I managed to persuade Mrs RM that a football (US : socceeeer) match was a good use of the day.

So after an aimless wander round the old,

and the new,

we headed to the Fadil Vokrri Stadium. This is Fadil;

The national stadium, and home to Kosovo’s equivalent of Manchester City, is remarkably central (think Wolves).

It’s right next to the weird shopping centre (loads of men’s clothes shop that look like they supplies a ’80s John Hughes film set),

and the square with the 3D art and the NEWBORN sign.

I told Mrs RM we’d need to be there 3 hours before kick-off as these foreign matches that Duncan and his mates go to are always packed and it might be chaotic with flares and we’d need to get there really early etc etc.

I’d struggled to find out kick-off time (the agent for our apartment phoned his wife and she didn’t know if there was a game), there was no indication of ticket availability on-line, and I could deduce from the video of England’s recent visit it wasn’t a large ground.

Who on earth was Harry Winks, by the way ?

But at 2pm, an hour before a predicted kick-off time, there was no sign of life. No gates open, no steward, no half-and-half scarf sellers. We went for a coffee and baklava in a cafe where we discovered (to my dismay) the toilets were out of use due to a water shortage. Had that led to a postponement ?

At a bar near the ground (no Bass) I asked a chap in a Liverpool shirt watching his team being lessoned by City;

3 pm” he said, morosely.

And then I saw the away team’s coach.

Yes, the legendary Trepca ’89 from Mitrovica.

It was 14:45. 15 minutes to find a ticket.

A young lad outside the bar had a big wad of papers.

Can I buy a ticket, mate ?” I asked in my best slow English.

Yes. But they are for ULTRAS !“. I took that as a NO.

Why don’t you just go in the entrance ?” asked Mrs RM. It was 10 minutes from kick-off, and the ground had just opened.

Our 3 euros bought us a padded seat in the VIP section, next to the Trepca 89 officials. Or official.

I kid you not, there were 300 fans in at most. We wondered if it was because it was Ramadan. Or raining.

Mrs RM made up 20% of the female contingent. A chap with a tray containing packets of croissants, flat Bass Fanta and an unspecified and untried beers walked round the empty stand.

Yes, this was the Kosovan Superliga, two of the recent champions producing a skilful spectacle that finished 4-1 to Prishtina. Back in Manchester, James was using my City season ticket in a crowd of 55,000 to see another 4-1 humbling.

I think I won. Here’s the Ultras (Press PLAY now);

They’ll be copying that at the Etihad next year, I tell you.

16 thoughts on “At Kosovo’s national stadium, we’re outed as “Not Ultras”

      1. Well the Bass anyway, not sure about the bench seats (German beer gardens excepted). I think the mass market beer drinking is rubbing off, I’ve been drinking such dull stars as Guinness, Theakstons, and JSB in recent weeks. Probably because I’ve been attending social events in god awful pubs.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re banned.

        8 years ago I’d watched top flight Moroccan football in Agadir where we saw 2,000 ultras practice their chants 4 hours before the match.


    1. Yes 300 would be a poor crowd in the 6th tier here. Pristina has 150,000 apparently. Think Ramadan might have been a factor. There were more people queueing for one restaurant later !


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