Monday, September 11, 2006

Macedonia v England September 2006

Kosovo was hot , maybe 33 degrees , so drinking water was essential & Bill needed to keep hydrated. Buying some bottled water from a nearby kiosk the vendor showed three fingers - Bill pulled out his change & offered one euro - the vendor shook his head - Bill jumped to 3 euros.
The local smiled before searching the handful of coins & taking 30 cents (c. 20p)
Skopje is also cheap.
It offers a pleasant ambience , surrounded by mountains, with an (inland) holiday location feel.
Plenty of (often) well dressed locals strolling around in the hot weather enjoying the nice restaurants & bars in the city centre.
The locals seemed friendly enough - with no evidence whatsover of any previous hostilities.
And in particular the taxi drivers can usually converse about the game ('why is Beckham not playing', 'I support Albania' etc)

Kosovo(Pristina) is quite near but a 2.5 hour bus journey (no trains) , with half an hour taken up by customs checks, sometimes thru hilly roads.
A not very appealing town with shops seemingly wedged in amongst the appartment blocks, Pristina showed no evidence of any troubles, Bill saw one or two Kfor vehicles but no other UN
presence. Graffiti was the only discordant note.

As to the game the result was all that mattered & one goal proved enough in a lively (but not very hostile) atmosphere. Once again it highlighted (amongst other things) the strength of Hargreaves in the holding role , Crouch's ability to score goals, that Phil Neville can still 'do a job' & that Defoe will soon get competition from Johnson & (later)Ashton.

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