Ljubljana Daily Photo

Monday, May 22, 2006

Big footballing day

I haven't mentioned before, but one of the things that I do here in Slovenia is play football. Not at an exceptionally high level, actually it's the 4th division of the national league.
At the end of last season two of the country's top teams, actually the only two first division teams from the capital, were relegated down into our league as a punishment for financial irregularities.
One of these two teams is NK Olimpija. A team that just 3 years ago held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw here in the UEFA Cup. A team that played Champions' League football against AC Milan. A team that was one of the big boys of the Yugoslavian league back in those days.
This team would be playing against us now, in the league.
Their stadium was, until just a year ago when the venue for big matches got moved, the national stadium.
Just a couple of years ago France came to this stadium for a World Cup qualifier.
It's the holy ground of Slovenian football.

Well, this past Thursday was our turn to play in this stadium against this team.
Unfortunately for me, I injured my knee just a week before playing in a tournament, so I was unable to play a whole match this time around. Although, I was brought on with 10 minutes to go, just for the experience. It was something else!

I won't bore you with the details of the match, we lost of course. But one funny story.
Olimpija is well-known for their support (hooligan) element, The Green Dragons.
Despite their team playing in the 4th league, these guys still turn up for every game to sing and support their team throughout. This day was no exception.
They were being their usual boisterous selves, when one of the fireworks that they let off came straight onto the pitch and hit one of their players on the leg. He was ok in the end, despite being down on the ground for about 5 minutes. Ridiculous. I loved every minute.

Here is a picture of the Green Dragons on the day.


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