‘You were on holiday in Israel’ I asked of my elderly fellow passengers on the flight back to the UK.
‘No - we were at a prayer conference in Jerusalem’
Well its an option, alternatively you could watch some football...
Hapoel Nazareth Illit 3 Hapoel Amidar Ramat Gan 2 in the Israeli ‘first division’.
It being Friday the most cost effective way to get to Nazareth and back to Tel Aviv was to hire a car and drive the 100km or so.
This I did as well as having a wander around the old city.
The Green stadium, named after the benefactors, is fairly new comprising two sides of open seating.
A small crowd watched a fairly moderate first half but a much more eventful second period.
The presence of a female official (reference Andy Gray) passed off without too much notice.
Amidar Ramat Gan led after about 15 minutes from set piece and they were edging the game.
Early in the second half Nazareth Illit got the equaliser only for the visitors to go ahead again from a nice chip by their no.8.
However Amidar had Ugochukwo sent off for stupid shove on a Nazareth forward and soon after the home side drew level again.
In the final minutes there was more drama as the Amidar goalie received a red card for handling outside the area.
And the nine men couldn’t stop the resulting free kick from Zano going in for the winner in the closing moments.
A well celebrated home win that helped Nazareth Illit’s battle against relegation (and their attempts to overcome points deductions)
On the next day,Saturday, I saw two matches beginning with -
Bnei Yehuda 2 Hapoel Askelon 0.
played at the Bloomfield stadium in Jaffa.
The stadium is home to three teams in the Israeli Premier League (higher profile Hapoel and Maccabi Tel Aviv being the others)
So this three o’clock kick off game was followed by Hapoel’s game at 7pm.
As the ground is quite close to the old city of Jaffa I took the time to have stroll around in the mild, sunny conditions.
Not too many turned up to watch this one, maybe 1000 at most, and they spent a lot of time moaning about their team.
But in the end Yehuda got the job done with two second half goals from Menashe and Galvan.
The few dozen Ashkelon fans went home disappointed.
It was an easy fifteen minute drive to the Winter stadium (also named after some benefactors)
Hapoel Ramat Gan 0 Ironi Kiryat Shmona 3.
Another Israeli Premier match played before a small crowd of a couple of hundred in cool but dry conditions.
Bottom of the table Ramat Gan gifted the visitors two goals with bad defensive mistakes and conceded another before half time.
Kiryat Shmona are a very competent side justifying their high place in the league.
They showed excellent passing skills throughout and were never troubled.
The stadium has two sides for spectators with a larger main stand and a lower level seating area opposite for the small but happy group of away fans.
There is very little cover, not that it mattered on this evening.
Lastly the Monday afternoon game:-
Bnei Lod 1 Ahva Arraba 0 .
It was very quiet near the Haberfeld stadium in Rishon le Zion which initially made me think I was in the wrong place but google maps and the Israeli FA info. had proven correct.
Only about 100 fans and a couple cats watched this ‘first division’ encounter on a cool evening to the south of Tel Aviv..
Bottom of the table Arraba had played well enough in the first half without really threatening.
But Bnei Lod eventually overcame their opponents with a late winner when substitute no.9 found space and crossed for Abu Anze to score from close range.
Arraba hadn’t helped their cause by having Biton sent off for slapping a Lod player.
At the end the locals celebrated and some of the players kissed the turf.
I negotiated my exit and took the no 84 bus back to central Tel Aviv.
more pictures at http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/666815176