Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Greece February 2015

Three games in Crete in the Greek Super League.

4th February 2015  OFI 3 PAOK 1   Greek Super League  3,026  (c. 800 away)

Prior to the game I had visited the excellent archaeological museum in Heraklion where amongst the artefacts were an ancient ‘draught’ board and depictions of the other popular pastimes back in the Minoan times including bull leaping.

Meanwhile in modern day Greece the most popular sport remains football even though the top level options in the Super League could diminish further (after the demise of Niki Volos)

As OFI have severe financial problems.

If this was to be their last game at least the fans saw a committed, exhilarating performance by the home players.
They fielded a full strength team against second placed PAOK who had a good number of fans, some of which obviously reside on the island.

Meanwhile behind the goal, in this old style ground,  the home ultras, gate 4 as the graffiti says, kept up a constant noise.

In the match Costa Rican Mayron George proved the difference, his pace causing problems until he was carried off later in the second half.
First he benefited from a goalie error then he was brought down for a penalty, scored easily by Lampropoulos.

PAOK did have more play with their latin contingent prominent but they mostly failed to setup striker Papadopoulos.
He would get one chance, after a defensive mistake, which he converted in the second half.

But generally Loria in the home goal and his defenders held firm.

The clincher was scored gleefully, after defensive hesitation, by Koutsianikoulis in the 82nd minute.
That prompted the local celebrations - hopefully not for the final time ?

If so maybe the fans might turn to bull leaping ?

7th February  Ergotelis 3 OFI 2   Greek Super League    1,716 (900 away)

Maybe not as OFI survive to play from week to week with their complement of 15 players, including just three outfield subs.

Once of which was Mayron George who looked like he had recovered from his previous injury.
He appeared later on when OFI were battling for a point.

Before that Ergotelis had led via goals from Boe-Kane and striker Dilas.

They did, however, have to play for a long period with ten men as midfielder Gentsoglou was sent off for an off the ball incident.

Initially it made little difference even though OFI did get one back after a speculative 40 yard effort from Makris had bounced past Saranov.
There was no real excuse but the pitch was definitely very uneven.

However Ergotelis restored their three goal advantage before the break when Gorkss headed in a free kick from Brazilian playmaker Elton Cale.

The second period was a different story with OFI dominating and the home side concentrating on defence and time wasting.
On 68 minutes Merebashvili shot in left footed to make it a hectic and sometimes fractious finish.

But Ergotelis held on despite the pacy efforts of the tricky Koutsianikoulis  and the eventual introduction of George.
The three points lifted them up the table and left OFI (with their ten point deduction) in dire straits.

I strolled back to the centre, some 45 minutes, following a very watchable encounter albeit in cool breezy conditions.

Back in the centre I settled for a kebab and some nougat while the locals sipped their coffee and the odd one had something to eat.

8th February  Platanias 2 Panthrakikos 0  Greek Super League   971

I took  the morning bus to Chania, some 2.5 hours west along the coast with sea and mountain views along the way.

The Perivolia stadium is a long walk from the centre but with only a little rain, and time to spare, I made the stroll stopping for some refreshment in a cafe.

Most of the fans, apart from a small group of ultras, sat in the covered main stand.
I did the same and admired the mountain views.

But it did get quite chilly and worse when the rain started.

In the game the home side scored a goal in each half, firstly through energetic full back Coulibaly then a late clincher from the Serb Milunovic.
Before that they had missed numerous chances which looked like it might cost them.

However the visitors were also guilty of the same, particularly Frenchman Diguiny who contrived to hit the bar when faced with an open goal.

And so Platanias, the third Cretan team I saw on this trip, got the win after a poor run of form.

With rain falling (and no transport) I decided to ask for a lift and was successful on the third attempt.
That enabled me to back in the old town to see most of PAOK v Olympiakos while enjoying some schnitzel and an Erdinger (when in Rome ?!)

more pictures at

Monday, February 02, 2015

Rangers v Celtic February 2015

1st February  Rangers 0 Celtic 2  Scottish League Cup semi-final  50,925

The Old Firm renewed acquaintances at Hampden Park on a cold February day in Glasgow.

As I said to my Norwegian neighbour this is good day for learning about the history of these islands.
Over hundreds of years.

With the fans split 50:50 it gave us a spectacle of tremendous noise and visceral fervour.
Although far from the full repertoire (now mostly banned) we had a good selection of the battle hymns from both sides.

The Celtic fans behind the goal also produced some banners as they highlighted the tribulations of their counterparts.
Those same issues could have given us a very one-sided contest.

As it was the Bhoys, driven on by the ever combative Scott Brown, dominated the first half scoring early through a Leigh Griffiths header and adding a second via a left foot strike from Kris Commons.

It then looked like being a 4 or 5-0 scoreline.

But Jon Daly came on after half time and he provided some extra presence up front and the Gers held their own in the second period.
Celtic were less effective but still kept their opponents well away from Craig Gordon’s goal.

In the end the predictable result but also some slivers of hope for the beleaguered Light Blues.

Afterwards the Celtic coach, Ronny Deila, was particularly scathing about the quality of the pitch.
On a better surface it could well have been much worse for Rangers.

Meanwhile the history lessons are likely to be retold when these two meet again in the league (probably next season)

more photos at