Posted: 6/20/2008


     We got tickets in the Spanish end of the Wals Siezenheim stadium in Salzburg for Spain v Greece, and there were lots of fans trying to sell tickets without success. So, I sang the national anthem (hymne nacional) with those red and yellow bedecked supporters around me. BUT, as you may know, there are no words to the Spanish anthem, so everyone sings La La La La-that got a bit boring, so I interspersed with Gibraltar Inglaterra, which got me some strange glances.

    The Spanish coach Luis Aragones had made 10 changes since they were going to go through to the next round, but his 2nd XI did well and were very creative with Liverpool's Xabi Alonso in control of mid field and even the Greeks tried to play a little decent soccer at times and they took the lead through Angelos Chariteas just in front of my seat in row 5 against a suprised Pepe Reina in goal.

    It was the 3rd time I had been in Salzburg in a week, and the small city was awash with red and yellow, and blue and white.  The Spaniards were dressed to kill in all sorts of colourful outfits that you normally see in a bull ring. MANOLO the official sponsored mascot and his band unloaded their drums and other instruments in front of me on the banks of the River Salzach and proceeeded to march through the old town, Altstad, where a fans zone had been set up next to the cathedral and under the shadow of the Festung Hohensalzburg-fortress. A musician was playing under an archway on his Yamaha grand piano and in the market we had a gigantic soft  Mozart pretzel of chocolate, cream and nuts.  Transport was very efficient with special buses laid on to the stadium.

   Everyone was very friendly and there was only one hooligan-ME. At the check in gates they were confiscating any items that didn't carry the official logo. I had picked up half a dozen blue and white Vodofone Greek baseball hats at the Greek Village next to EUROPARK, the splendid mall , 400 metres from the stadum, so I threw them up in the air, like the graduating ceremony at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. " You hide people in cellars and now stop fans from wearing free hats" I shouted at the ERMOS (easily replaceable minor officials). Of course, they will never see 30,000 fans again since this was the last of the 3 matches in the city. Even though Red Bull Salzburg have the best attendances in the Austrian Bundesliga, 12,000 is tops for them and the rest of the league is much worse.

    Earlier we had taken the Austrian postbus Route 170, 25 minutes south to the university and federal sports school next to the Salzburg Golf Club to watch Interblock Ljubljana of the Slovenian League play SC Tavriya Simferopol from the Crimean peninsula in the Ukrainian Premier League.  It was pretty brutal soccer without any skill and finesse.   After the demise of popular Olimpija Ljubljana the Slovenian capital was without a top team in town until a gaming company came and bought NK Faktor, changed the name to Interblock,  nicknamed 'The Devil's team', due to their disturbing new pentagon logo and have plans to turn their historic 5,000 Bezigrad stadium into a super one with underground shopping centre, casino, VIP suites and more. They may qualify for the UEFA Cup next season via the cup final but have a long way to go.  SC Tavrija won the first ever Ukrainian Premier League title and had one black player, Lucky Idahav from Nigeria.

   Back at the EUROS  Spain came from behind to win 2-1 with the winner from  Dani Guiza 2 minutes from time, after Ruben De La Red had equalized. You walk away 400 metres, get on the train at the Europark Station and 4 minutes later you are at Salzburg Hbf-it couldn't be easier and less stressful.  Now we come to the quarter-finals which start tonight in Basel with Germany against Portugal.

My last blog BALLOCK TAKES VIENNA didn't seem to go out, so click on to see what I had to say from my trip to the Austrian capital 2 days ago.