Often Partisan

Off to Partizan II

With Blues not playing this weekend, I thought it might be nice to continue my series of articles looking at teams we might face in next year’s Europa League. You can find the first article here.

Lokomotiv Moscow

FC Lokomotiv Moscow qualified for the Third Qualifying round of the 2011/2012 Europa League by virtue of finishing fifth in the Russian Premier League in 2010. Loko, as they’re known to the fans are one of four Moscow teams currently in the RPL (Saturn having disbanded in 2010), and have recently emerged from the shadow of Spartak Moscow to win the RPL in 2002 and 2004.

Loko play in the 28,000 capacity Lokomotiv Stadium, on the north eastern outskirts of the Russian Capital. The stadium, once derided by fans as a “flying saucer” is now seen as one of the best in Russia, and has been the home ground for the Russian National team.

Lokomotiv Stadium
Pic www.stadiumguide.com

Away fans are seated in the Northern stand, directly opposite the Lokomotiv ultras, and judging by the proximity of the local metro stop it’s fairly easy to reach from the centre of Moscow. Whilst you can fly direct to Moscow from Gatwick, Lufthansa offer cheap flights from Birmingham, with a stop in Dusseldorf. It’s not that expensive either, at £250ish currently to book flights to Moscow. Moscow has changed somewhat since I visited nearly eighteen years ago, and it’s no longer as much of a problem to get a visa. If you’re looking for a drink, the advice is that it’s cheaper in the suburbs than in the city centre; prices can vary from a couple of quid to ten plus in centre of Moscow. Of course, there is always the local delicacy, vodka…

Sligo Rovers

Of course, European competition could mean a short hop across the Irish sea to a team in the Republic, such as Sligo Rovers. Sligo are in the second qualifying round by virtue of winning the 2010 FAI Cup on penalties against Shamrock Rovers. Of course, this means The Bit o’ Red need to win their first tie to pull us in the next round, but it’s possible – although they cannot rely on penalty takers for the opposition being as bad as Shamrock, who missed every one of their four in the cup final shootout.

Sligo play in the 5,500 capacity Showgrounds, in the eastern part of Sligo Town. The ground has only in the last few years met the regulations for Europa League football, with the car park having to be fully tarmacked and the installation of seating to take the seated capacity to 2,700.

Sligo Showgrounds

As Sligo Airport is ending it’s only service (which is to Dublin) in July, it looks like Sligo will be a coach/car and ferry trip. Sligo is 135 miles away from Dublin, which means a few hours of enjoying the Irish countryside – but in saying that it’s probably an easier trip than Azerbaijan would be. They’ve got a fair few pubs too, which someone has conveniently listed for us here.

Tromsø IL

Fans of cold weather and the Arctic circle will be hoping that Norwegian team Tromsø make it through the first two qualifying rounds to face off against Blues. Gutan, as the locals know them are in the first qualifying round of the Europa League due to their finishing third in the 2010 Norwegian Premier League. Blues fans will also be pleased to know that the current Tromsø captain is former Blues legend (used in the loosest possible sense of the word) Sigurd Rushfeldt.

Tromsø play in the 7,500 capacity Alfheim stadium, based in the town of Tromsø, which itself is on an island (Tromsøya) in one of the northern Norwegian fjords. It’s a huge pitch, measuring 110 metres by 70 (Blues is a mere 100 by 66), and as Tromsø is about as far north as you can get before you start hitting Arctic ice, it’s laid with artificial turf.

Alfheim Stadium

Tromsø could be a bit of a nightmare to get to; as the direct flights from Gatwick to Tromsø airport finish in March of next year, it’s going to necessitate a stopover. There are no one stopover flights from Birmingham currently listed on Expedia, so it’s going to be a trip to London to fly from Heathrow, with a stop in Oslo or hoping that a charter flight is put on. Coupled with beers costing £6 a pint, it might not be the best of away trips.

There will be another installment of the series in a week; if you have any suggestions as to what to look into, I’m all ears.

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5 Responses to “Off to Partizan II”

  • Colin Carberry says:

    I’ve been to Tromso. It has a singularly fascinating cathedral, which is entirely made of wood. Should we play them, we can visit the cathedral and sing “my garden shed is similar to this”

    They also have a feckoff big ski jump, which I climbed to the top of. Why anyone would fire themselves off one of those things is a mystery to me, although I have no doubt Jiranek will have a go, probably ‘sans skis’.

  • PBBlue says:

    Would love us to draw Sligo. I have a house about 30 mins drive from Sligo and have had many a good day there.
    Flights from Birmingham into Knock- about an hours drive. Dublin -3 hours.
    Belfast -3 hours.
    East Midlands go into Derry which is about 2 hours drive.

    • almajir says:

      For those of us who don’t drive (or who would like to drink) is there any other way there from the airport?

  • Chris Quinn says:

    Loving this feature on potential opponents. As much as I’d like to visit Russia (I speak a bit of the lingo), I would like us to avoid Loco as they would be a tough, tough match for Blues. Take into account their home conditions, they also have some quality players. I would like us to draw a team like Sligo, as Blues fans would pile over to Ireland and wouls also have a good chance of progressing to a bigger European force.

  • […] could face in the Europa League next season. If you’ve not read them, check out parts I and II. This week, I thought I’d focus on teams close to […]


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