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Well well, what can I say. It is 0130 as I write this on Sunday, 22nd May 2005. Liverpool are in the Champions League final against AC Milan on Wednesday. My flight to Budapest in Hungary leaves in 5 and a half hours. I'll be on a train to Bucharest in Romania this afternoon. On to Bulgaria before arriving in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday afternoon. Two nights on a train. I can't wait....



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I'll be in the Bull for the match.

An adventure of a lifetime


I just hope and pray the lads play their hearts out and I get to see Steven Gerrard lift that European trophy for the fifth time for the greatest football club. It is long overdue. I get to see a few parts of the world I'd never imagined thanks to superb performances the team have made in the Champions League over the season

Champions League, we're having kebabs....

Istanbul, Istanbul

We're gonna lift the cup!


I shall hopefully return alive and fill this page with details of the journey of my life...

good luck Liverpool!

Ataturk Olympic Stadium Champions League Final 2005

Yes - we did it!

I just got back - I shall try to make a good job of this site and allow you to share my experience


Wez G in Istanbul 2005

The journey was incredible. I had never really been attracted by the prospect of travelling to Turkey or Eastern Europe. It is an area where I had no reason to go. I am now very glad I went.


The opportunity arose. I had to go. I couldn't imagine sitting in front of the tele being unable to help the team win their fifth European cup. I had a broken wrist from playing football 10 days before the match so my plans to get a package deal to a southern Turkish resort were scuppered. I didn't fancy sweating it out next to a pool watching everyone have fun while my plaster stunk the place out. I felt the airfare direct to Istanbul was too pricey as well. I looked at the cheap airfares and about the closest I could get to the Bull was Budapest in Hungary. Again, flights from there weren't cheap, but I discovered that the old Orient Express train route would take me from Budapest to Istanbul via Romania and Turkey. 38 hours on a train, but I thought it would be great fun and what would be the journey of my life followed.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, before the match, I sat at the back of an Easyjet plane and as it left the tarmac of Bristol airport the first of many YNWAs (You'll never walk alone) drowned out the volume of Hungarian easyjet stewardesses trying to flog you overpriced sarnies. A couple of hours later and we had arrived in Budapest. It was about 30 degrees there. Baking sun in the old communist bloc's showpiece capital. Our train didn't leave till early evening so we met up with a Hungarian ex-girlfriend of my travel partner and headed down to the beautiful island in the middle of the Danube. It was all a bit surreal. Going to watch a football match normally takes me to a couple of motorway service stations and if I'm lucky I get to stare at a few scarves on the wall of local pubs.

Hungarian parliament building, Budapest

Here I was, laid out in the middle of one of Europe's grandest rivers, on the hottest day of the year, watching Hungarian birds frolic around the ruins of ancient nunneries while I'm trying to focus on a Liverpool victory in three days time. I hadn't met any Liverpool fans yet, but already I had the Johnny Cash 'Ring of Fire' circling around in my head. Can't complain, but the butterflies had already started and I was a bit concerned about the many miles which lay untrekked ahead of us. Soon, after a very long wait at the Hungarian tube station, a beautiful Hungarian meal and a change bureau completely ripping me off to change my travellers cheques, I was at Keleti station and en route to Istanbul.

We soon met a supporter, Gwyd, who was travelling alone to the match, and was the only other person quite as daft (or clever) as us, in deciding to make the arduous, but very cheap train trip across Eastern Europe. We met a Hungarian, Zoltan, too, who joined us for a lot of the journey but, unfortunately for him, he supported Milan. A bit of banter was great. We had loaded up with cheap Hungarian lager and before long and quite a few sing-songs, I had passed out in the sleeper carriage and the monotonous clickety-clack of the tracks was replaced by hazy dreams of cup glory.

GwydLiverpool supporter, Gwyd, on train to Istanbul Milan supporter from HungaryHungarian Milan supporter

The clickety-clack snapped me out of a deep slumber right as the sun began to appear on the horizon. i looked out of the carriage and we were in the middle of the most beautiful mountainous forest. We were in Transylvania, Dracula country, though I didn't know it at the time. Had I known, I most certainly would have shut the windows as I didn't fancy sharing a sleeper carriage with a load of vampire bats and I think that the garlic in my goulash the previous day had worn off. Well - all the others were dead to the world so I chilled and marvelled at the scenery, grabbed a few photos and started getting stuck into my Turkish and Italian phrasebooks.


Italian phrasebook
Turkish phrasebook

The others woke and we quickly finished off what remained of the Hungarian conductor's beer and spent the day relatively sober, until we stopped at Bucharest to get restocked...

Romania, especially Bucharest, seemed a lively place, but some of the shanties alongside the train tracks and to look at the people scattered around the capital's train station, made me realise that I was in a different world. I knew little about Romania, other than Hagi, Ceaucescu and the starving children in the orphanages I had seen in the newpapers. I knew nothing of the country's history, present or future. What I do know is that the beer, Mcdonalds and cigarettes are very cheap and that when my mate bought a copy of Romanian playboy from a magazine seller and accidently gave the guy the equivalent of a tenner in their money, the guy jumped for the clouds and went bouncing off around Bucharest like Zebedee from the Magic Roundabout. Back on the train and the song which was to feature quite heavily on my personal jukebox for the next couple of weeks was on: Canned Heat - We're on the road again...


train in RomaniaBucharest shantyRomania countryside

We were soon at another border. In Bulgaria there seemed a bit of an obsession with bureaucratic stamping and monitoring. At the borders so far, we hadn't needed to leave the train. Passport control just popped onto the train and gave us some stamps, though Hungary required none. Just passing through Bulgaria acquired me four new stamps in my passport. Bulgaria appeared an exciting place. When the train occasionally stopped we chatted out the windows to various people. They all looked very lively and particularly friendly. We swopped cigarettes and ensured that the roar for Liverpool would be loud in the bars and living rooms of Eastern Bulgaria. I tried hard to think of a Womble joke but it brought back sick memories of that FA Cup final where I cried all those years ago. There would be no crying on this trip. I hoped....

Pretty soon, as another evening drew in, and we yet again ran out of beer, we pulled to a standstill at the Turkish border. This was different. We now had to leave the train. Gwyd didn't yet have a match ticket so he feared he wouldn't get in. I had read up as much as possible on the finer details of the journey. Rick Parry, club chief executive, gave some great advice for travelling to the game in LFC magazine. It came in useful here as did a bit of common sense. There was a big hoo-ha about visas. As Turkey is actually part of a different continent (Uefa in all their wisdom obviously overlooked this fact), you do need to buy a visa for a tenner. However, with a valid match ticket the visa is waived. We were wisely told not to get our tickets out AT ALL till we got to the stadium. A photocopy would suffice for anywhere else, accompanied by a photo of your passport. I had the photocopies.

Step in one very dodgy-looking Turkish dude in a leather jacket and to speed up the process he wants to disappear around the corner to see his police mates - he himself is 'a plain clothes detective....' with our match tickets. My travel buddy is trying to get the tickets off me to give to our new found friend but I was having none of it. The guy wasn't satisfied with photocopies and started getting a bit aggressive. It is apparently part of Turkish law that during an argument it is ok to stab someone in the buttocks. Urban Myth or not I didn't fancy being kebabbed - not my idea of a larf, Champions league or not...

The guy settled down eventually and I paid the tenner visa fee. Not a chance on earth was he getting hold of the two beauties I had hidden away. Anyway, a bout of paranoia and a very delayed wait later, we were actually in Turkey. one more night on the train and we would be in Istanbul. No beer, so I read my guidebook. Now Turkey is a crazy place. A great place, but a crazy one. Hearing about the murdered Leeds fans, the bombing of the British embassy, Al Qaeda, PKK, earthquakes, train crashes, the buttock piercing antics, does not make you sleep well, that's for sure. Vampire bats in Transylvania is one thing but I certainly didn't fancy meeting any crazed fanatics in this wild place (unless of course they were humming ring of fire....)

I have to include this link because I love this story. To sum up Turkey, (and it does have one of the richest histories on earth - a true cradle of civilisation) I will link you to a website which talks of an old Turkish leader. To prevent fratricide the Turks, in their infinite wisdom, invented 'The Cage' Click the link below to learn more. Welcome to the world of Ibrahim I....


Ibrahim the First

Click on image

I had to laugh a little about old Ibrahim, I was heading to his backyard and I knew that the general populace of New Constantinople were about to be inundated with about 50000 scousers. Anything could happen! I'm sure Ibrahim definitely wouldn't want to come out of the cage if he saw the legions of redmen crusading about his city singing songs of sweet Liverpool glories. Though I reckon he could be tempted with a couple of tinnies and a spare scarf, or souvenir fez....
We were soon at the outskirts of Istanbul, then disembarking at Sirkeci station, after 38 arduous hours on a train. It was Tuesday lunchtime.

Welcome to the Cage.....
Istanbul 2005
Champions League Final


Side hotel, Istanbul, Homepage - where I satyed in Istanbul...

First bar on exit from the train station was a quaint little Turkish pub, surprisingly quiet, considering Liverpool were in town. The waiters welcomed us and their quiet period abruptly ceased. We had been told not to wear our fezes as Ataturk had stopped people wearing them as he had tried to integrate Turkey with Europe. Ataturk is a revered figure in Turkey and if there are two things you should never do in Turkey, one is to damage the Turkish flag, the other is to criticise Ataturk. It is said the two murdered Leeds fans were unaware of these golden rules. We heeded the advice and gave my Liverpool Fez to the waiter who, in full national dress, suddenly found as he bounced about in the street outside, it was the best Fez he had ever known. His job was to fill the venue and combined with our singing, the fez worked because the venue was soon heaving full of mad Scouse.

Turkey Tourist Board
Ataturk Homepage
Turkish Culture

Our new Turkish friends were great and to me it dawned that I had actually arrived when we started hearing the stories of the group of guys who followed us into the bar. They had been part of Jan Molby's wedding party, and full of tales of times gone by and previous glories I realised that the next few days would be very special. That they agreed with me in believing that Xabi's passing was as good as the Great Dane's himself, was comfort. After three days of travel, comfort was something I did crave. Before the night's festivities got underway I checked into the hotel and grabbed a quick siesta.

Jan Molby Profile
Xabi homepage


We went to an intenet cafe to sort out some emails etc and managed to be interviewed by a nice Romanian journalist who was covering the game, Grigore Luminata

Romanian newpaper article

15 minutes of fame, eh?


Drinking seemed the priority that evening. Drinking and trying to keep pace with the songmasters, especially imported from the Spion Kop. They were great. In all honesty, I heard songs that evening which beat the Beatles lyrics hands down. They were magnificent and it quickly became clear that we weren't leaving Asia till we'd won the European Cup - for the 5th time. I say Asia. Just to be completely correct: part of Istanbul is in Europe, part is in Asia. the old Roman name for Turkey was Asia Minor and Istanbul's historic name, Constantinople, sat at the head of the Eastern Roman Empire for centuries, surviving the fall of Rome itself for many years. The Bosphorus separates old Istanbul eg. Sultanahmet, in Europe, where we stayed, and the Eastern, Asian side, where Fenerbahce, for example, are based. The Ataturk Olympic stadium is on the European side of the Bosphorus, way out on the outskirts of the city.


Istanbul satellite image

We headed out to the square near us to begin the evening. We were staying right next to the Blue Mosque and most of Sultanahmet converged near the backpacker's pub where the festivities were well underway. We had wanted to go up to Taksim Square as we had heard it was the place to be. Several pints later, into a taxi we jumped, across the golden horn and Taksim Square we were. I lost the others at this stage but was having too much fun to worry about that. I trekked from bar to bar, met a load of locals and found this whacky irish place which had evry scouse anthem you could possibly think of (minus the Everton ones of course, the bluenoses, of course, being an unknown entity on foreign shores...) I became bored of meeting reds and Milan supporters had just failed to show up. I started putting some of my Turkish to good use and found that my fears of Ibrahim and his mates stabbing me in the rear were a bit unfounded. I met loads of Turks and I must say that personally, I found that the Fenerbahce supporters were the wildest. Galatasaray were pretty crazy and Besiktas are by no means an undersupported club, but for sheer fanatacism the Fenerbahce lot get my praises. They were nuts and I drunk large amounts of alcohol with large groups of them for the duration of that evening in a variety of Turkish nightspots.

I ended up back in the Backpackers Square which I though was actually better than Taksim. The local harem was run by some Rangers supporters, who were keen on welcoming the red hordes into their establishment. The belly dancers were dancing on the tables to vigorous applause and one of my new Turkish mates was flattered by my comment about the one belly dancer who also happened to be his missus. Rather than me having to pull knives out of my bum he insisted on making me gyrate around the nightclub with her to the delight of the insanely drunk Liverpool lot. Oh - English holidaymakers - When will we ever learn?
Anyway - I woke up with a banging headache - didn't get in till about 6am. I went out in the morning to try and see some of the sights and get some grub as I had a funny feeling it was going to be a long day. Today was Wednesday. Tonight my team were playing in the Champions League Final against AC Milan on the other side of the earth. Food would be a good idea.

Aya Sofya

The sights in this bustling city are truly striking. We were staying a stone throw from the Blue Mosque. Aya Sofya, another particularly impressive building, is just around the corner. A centre of civilization. Where East meets West. My great-grandmother, a New Zealander had seven brothers. no sisters, seven brothers. they were in the ANZAC corps during the first world war. At the end of one day's butchering, my great-grandmother had no brothers any longer as they had all laid their lives down on foreign beaches, fighting a war so that we could live in a free world today. It is a story which has always amazed me. A sad story indeed. I had a big book on Gallipoli to keep me occupied throughout my journey. I thank my lucky stars to have the gift of life today, to be able to enjoy the fact that my team are in the Champions League Final. Gallipoli is just up the road from Istanbul. They claim to have found the garden of Eden in the Turkish mountains. There is more history to this country than any historian could fathom in a lifetime. A true cradle of civilization. My point is that Turkey is a beautiful country, with great people and great tourist things to do. I was out there to watch a match of football. I didn't have time to explore properly. I do want to return one day and see everything properly. It is magnificent. Go there, if you haven't already, and see for yourself....



Anyway - we saw the sights briefly, actually discovered that there were some pockets of Milan fans scattered about. I have a confession to make here. When I was younger and Liverpool were banned from Europe, my team in the European Cup used to be AC Milan. I loved the style of their Dutch contingent. the trio of Van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard were world class. I even bought a shirt with a nice gold star on it cos they'd won the European cup so many times. I have kept an eye on them over the years and with this being the first time the teams had ever met I was excited. Two of the greatest teams in the world meeting for the very first time. The stage was set and what a stage it would turn out to be. What story did impress me was how, Milan, a side that we have never met in history, reacted immediately after Hillsborough. Their next game was a European Cup semi-final against Real Madrid. Six minutes into that game, with the clock still ticking, they booted the ball out of play and everyone inside the San Siro, including players, belted out a rendition of You'll never Walk Alone, showing solidarity with the grief felt at England's greatest club after the heartfelt tragedy that was Hillsborough. This fact warrants respect and I was keen on meeting Milan. After the fiasco with the Juventus supporters turning their backs, one might have expected a little bit of apprehension from the Italians, but as they swarmed around the Aya Sofya area, we wandered around handshaking and sharing a bit of prematch chitchat. They were good fans. Although I shall never be able to understand how a club of Milan's stature can return so many tickets for the CL final, the supporters that were there were a good bunch. I was riled when a group of guys refused to accept my offer of friendship and snarled and looked at me like I was dirt, but at the end of the day not everyone is going to be pleasant, are they? If Stevie G can hug Shevchenko during the match I can't see why three fans refuse to meet their opposition in a gentlemanly manner. I thought of how those guys would be feeling after the match which was ample consolation. I looked at it philosophically and that was 1-0 up as far as I was concerned.

Anyway - it was off to Taksim Square for us as the free buses to the ground would leave from there. In a yellow cab, the standard practice was to bellow one line of ring of fire at any red shirts you saw for them to repeat it back. Indeed, you could sing or shout anything. It was mental. On the mad roads with anarchist drivers cars full of fanatical foreigners, sun beating down on the Bosphorus, Chemical Brothers - Galvanise was the sound track. Taksim was great. we got a tray of lager in and headed up to the rooftops where the hardcore support was leading festivities. Bumped into Alan Kennedy which to me seemed a good sign. He did score the winner for us last time we won the European Cup! A man who knows what it's all about. More beers, more songs, more butterflies. We headed off to the Ataturk Olympic Stadium to fulfill our dreams.


Alan Kennedy

Ataturk Olympic Stadium is one hell of a bus journey away. A free bus but a long ride, especially after drinking like we had done. Eventually, the dirt track road came to an end and we bundled out to pee in the desert, hardly noticing the fact that a band was having the time of their lives up on a hastily erected stage (Kasabian, I think) and that there were indeed no sides at either end of this big stadium, we had fondly renamed Anfield East.

First up, programs. Just quickly grab a proggy then off into the ground. Where are the sellers? Oh - there are none. One tent and that's it. I'm not being funny but UEFA sometimes need to take a serious look at themselves. They expect to have 70000 people at their showpiece event of the year and have one little tent as the only place to get programs? Everyone wants not one, but several. These authorities have people like you and I put faith in them to organise these events. Sometimes they are beyond any form of common sense. We are supposed to swallow their delusional ideas all too often. They lack practical common sense. They host an event of this scale in a country in the political climate of today. The Bristish embassy was bombed only a year ago and a war is raging in the South as Turkey is adjacent to Iraq and contains half of the disputed Kurdish homeland where fighting is predominant. The whole stability of the Middle East is fragile at present. Ok, by all means welcome Turkey into Europe, but there are ways of doing it. UEFA should have had the entire event absolutely planned to the finest detail. After witnessing the shambles of this event it comes as no surprise to look back and see how matches such as the European Cup Final of 1985 can rapidly disintegrate into chaos. We, as Liverpool supporters, have to live with the labels we inherited throughout Europe on that day The truth of the matter is that we are really far from the horrific hordes of hooligans we are labelled. I saw a recent documentary which demonstrated how clearly flawed the planning was on that day in Belgium in the 1980s. For there not to have been a proper disaster in the Ataturk stadium in 2005 was more a matter of luck than anything else because the organisers would have struggled to have arranged a drinking session in a brewery.

I queued for about an hour and a half. Just at the front of the queue, all excited I would finally get the program. It gave way. A massive surge from the back and ladies and gentleman, we have a riot. The Turkish police in the tent had obviously been trained because the first thing they did was run. Meanwhile, my Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses slip off my head and I find myself on the floor inside the tent. I had a broken wrist and my arm in plaster. I was trying to look for my glasses. I realised that what was going on wasn't a simple surge. It was a proper riot. I was being trampled. I couldn't actually get up because of my arm. I gave up on the glasses and I think someone must have just dragged me off the ground and we bolted through the back of the tent. Outside, now filthy, covered head to toe in dust, and bruised and battered from the ruck, I managed to acquire a program from somewhere but faced returning home without the ones I had promised for my mates or indeed the nurse from casualty who had sorted me out a last-minute doctor's note so I could fly. But I was alive. I saw in that tent how easy a situation can turn into chaos. I can only imagine what Heysel and Hillsborough were like. It is football, a beautiful game, but when tragedy strikes it can be volatile and dangerous. People were commenting on how THAT was almost another Hillsborough and it was scary. i can think of better ways to have prepared for what lay ahead. Learn the lessons, UEFA. Sort it out. I don't want my club to be held responsible for another major tragedy...

Hillsborough Memorial
Hillsborough Memorial, Anfield. RIP 96 fans, YNWA

Link to article on Twentieth anniversary of Hillsborough disaster


Got the progam, let's get some grub.

Negotiate the ground entrance, show tickets, find that there is a little burger place just outside the quite daunting steps going up into ground. It is quite dark now. I order a couple of burgers as I am starving. No more beer till we get back to Istanbul and sobering up is never good. Anyway, I put my order in. I realise I am surrounded by a load of foreigners. Next thing I know someone has really sneakily smacked me full-on in the face with a meaty right hook. I have done nothing. I am there with a broken arm. Soft target perhaps. A cowardly attack for sure. I picked myself up off the floor and had a few words to say to the people around me. I wasn't happy. I ate my burgers and went into the stadium. Minor incidents in my mind. Nothing would prevent me from enjoying this match...

Liverpool vs AC Milan, Ataturk stadium, Istanbul 2005 Champions League Final

Except maybe Paulo Maldini -

That was a quick goal, I must say, and not the tonic I was seeking after all the hassle of getting to the Ataturk stadium. Still, we scored an early goal in Cardiff against Chelsea and look who won there....

Oops - I shouldn't have mentioned Chelsea cos that Crespo has just made it two.

Liverpool haven't bothered to show up. I swear the stadium is full of red supporters. There are hardly any Milan at all. they have a little stand with some pretty colours and that's it. Where are my team? Where are the side that fought tooth and nail to slay Olympiakos, Juventus and Chelsea ?

oops - done it again -I mentioned Chelsea and guess what - one of their players has scored again. Crespo, could you not have stayed at flipping Chelsea? At least your goals for them might have saved me the time and effort of trekking the earth to watch my team get embarrassingly slaughtered. Half Time. What am I doing in Istanbul?

What am I doing? I am thirsty, tired, I have no cigarettes, I have a hangover. I have a sweaty dirty plaster getting smellier by the minute, I have bruises coming out. My nose might be broken. I've lost my sunglasses. Liverpool are 3-0 down. the other things are superficial. the fact that we are 3-0 down to the mighty Milan is quite a serious issue. They have a rock solid defence and apart from the shambolic display against PSV this defence has hardly put a foot wrong all season.
I sit outside, downtrodden. The fans are eerily silent. Distraught. The emptiness on everyone's face says it all. Where is the hope in our hearts? We aren't gonna all get up and walk off alone, are we? We'll never do that we sing it every week. 'Olympiakos', I start to remind people . Remember Olympiakos. We scored three in the second half against them. That match was special. That is why we are here. C'mon lads we have to believe. We can do it. 'Nah-mate - this is milan we are talking - they are the best. They aren't Olympiakos. No way back from this matey. We have no chance. None whatsoever. Pack yer bags and shift off home. We have lost....' I struggled to find any positive. Everyone did. The row nehind me in the stadium even packed off and left at half time (!????) I did still believe. I am the eternal optimist when it comes to Liverpool FC. As I trudged back up the steps into the stadium I was screaming out angrily:

'We can do it - Believe we can do it...'

On the stairs someone caught my eye. He looked at me, said nothing, but in his eyes I saw he believed. At that point I knew we would win the European Cup that evening.

Liverpool Supporters in Turkey

Despondent at half-time though we were, As the teams came out the volume doubled. We were 3-0 down and singing louder than ever. The lads needed us and we needed them.

6 minutes of mayhem

We had 6 minutes of injury time against Chelsea in the semi-final with THAT Gudjohnssen strike, those idiots running on the pitch and everyone convinced that the officials were being paid in roubles.

No not that 6 minutes :)

6 minutes of mayhem on the outskirts of Istanbul in May 2005


Our captain, Steven Gerrard, led by example and made it one.

Vladimir Smicer, forgotten by most, including the Milan defence, popped up when we needed him and made it two.

Xabi Alonso, despite missing the penalty, hit the rebound into the net to make it three.


Liverpool were drawing 3-3 with AC Milan. What was impossible became possible. The volume was crazy. People were hysterical. i actually counted four ambulances drive around the athletic track to deal with casualties in the Milan supporters' end. People would have been having heart attacks, all sorts. Us lot were mainly Ok. Hyper, but OK. We get it week in, week out. Liverpool just never seem to be content unless they have you on the verge of a cardiac arrest. I swear - our fans must have the worst blood presuure problems in the world. The amount of times they have done it to me by turning the impossible into reality. I suppose it's what makes football a beautiful game. I love Liverpool and in that stadium I was having the time of my life. I wouldn't change that match in any way, ever.

At the point of Dudek's double save against Shevchenko - that is when I had a religious experience I think. You need faith in those sort of times. The collective gasp from Eidur's Anfield miss and the rush to the toilets immediately afterwards was nothing compared with that Andrei Shevchenko double save. It was like being electrocuted. I was just floating around outside of my body along with the rest of the supporters. No-one said anything. We knew it was dodgy but yet again we had survived. I believe in miracles and I was witnessing a miracle of the highest magnitude.

Extra time did drag on. The final whistle was uncomfortable. But what a great penalty shootout. The lads gave us our reward and thought we'd had enough heart stoppers for one evening. A comfortble penalty shootout and then absolute carnage. the roof flew off, I'm sure. There was a roof I think before Shevchenko missed his pen. I don't know - I don't care. We were champions of Europe again (x5) and I was there in the Bull, watching....

Liverpool - you were magnificent!

Ring of Fire, Istanbul - Liverpool fans

The story is far from over. This is where the adventure really began to get interesting. I had to go home.

The night was silent. we left the stadium to clamber back on the buses and it was strange. It was like being in an old black and white movie, with no sound. Except it was in red and white. No-one could speak. Not only were people speechless virtually everyone had lost their voice. We'd had our quota of miracles for the day so we couldn't expect our voiceboxes to magically spring back to life. People were exhausted. We had won. We had done it. time to celebrate. And celebrate we did.

Carlsberg hat

Again, the bus journey back was pretty horrific. Traffic at a standstill. We didn't particularly care but after a few hours with no beer to celebrate and you're still stuck on a rickety little bus somewhere in the Turkish desert you do start to develop a thirst. When we did reach Taksim Square the welcome party was in full swing. The night grew and grew. I went back to Sultanahmet, back to my harem and my square of dreams, outside the backpackers. i bumped into an old friend who just happened to be drinking away there which was good. It was just a shame no-one could speak. If anyone could I'm sure there would've been some cracking songs but compared with ther build up the previous night it was silent. We were champions though and to see the Chesire cats stomping around the Istanbul alleys was a sight I'll never shake. Grins the size of the Bosphorus, Smiles spanning across two continents. Everyone was elated. It was a good night out. Can't remember too many details but it was a good one. I was gutted I would miss the lads return to Liverpool but consoled myself in soaking up the atmosphere on that warm, dusty Turkish evening.

I saw the dawn come in the following morning. I had experienced the time of my life. I knew I would die a happy man. Whatever. To try and put into words, the feelings I felt after the match is impossible. Chances are, you saw the match yourselves. You cannot capture in words a game like that. It has no predecessor quite the same. There will be no sequel quite like it either - ever. It was a special moment in history. I know people might say it's only a game etc. What I witnessed in Turkey qualified the belief of Shankly himself - 'It's much more important than that' No truer a word spoken.


Bill Shankly

Shanks would have enjoyed the match. I am too young to remember him and his great sides.He built up the club to where it is today.I am, however, old enough to realise and appreciate how special a certain Spaniard is. A certain Spaniard who moved out here with his family last summer to start a new life and to bring back success to Liverpool Football Club. We had been a sleeping giant for too long. Rafael came to change that. Talk is cheap. In a year of Mourinho's, Moan U's and a 'successful' Everton side, Rafael has quietly got on with his job. Absorbing criticism, dragging his new side from pillar to post. He has been written off many times this year, especially in the Champions League. He has produced results. And in the face of true adversity. It shows character to do that. It shows genius. Rafael is a genius, nothing less. And a Liverpool genius at that. He is often apologetic in TV interviews, trying to explain that he wants to say something but the language barrier is preventing him from saying what he really feels. Rafa, lad. You keep quiet. Don't worry yourself. You don't need to try to tell us how you're feeling. Your team express themselves perfectly on the pitch. It is poetry in motion. Pure and simple. I just hope that the statuemakers can find the perfect spot at our new stadium because you will be immortal, Rafa. I am looking forward to the premiership title. No doubters floating about Anfield. You have set the benchmark for what you expect and what you are capable of doing. I imagine that that new statue will be have to be minted in gold, or perhaps, with all the trophies anticipated, silver will be more readily available.


Rafael Benitez


I had to get home. I woke up in the hotel. Way past check-out time. The old workmate with whom I had travelled to Istanbul had decided to do a runner. I hardly knew the guy but needed a travel buddy. I had a broken wrist and was heading into potentially dangerous territory. The unknown. I had sorted him a ticket at standard price when they were going for hundreds at home.. Arranged his travel, accommodation. He had blagged me for money all trip and lied through his teeth to keep up the pretence that I was going to be repaid. The guy lacks morality. It did annoy me to have been blagged, especially after doing such a favour for someone. I wouldn't let anything spoil my experience and I looked on the fact he had now bunked off as an opportunity. He owed me a couple of hundred quid but to be away from his incessant whingeing would be a bonus. An opportunity. He had ripped off our new mate from the train, Gwyd, as well. He's the sort of person who thinks life is one big free meal ticket. I've seen enough from life to know this is not the case. It's not my problem. I can live with a clear conscience. My train ticket back to Hungary had mysteriously disapppeared from my passport wallet which had no value to whoever took it as the tickets had my name on and would be useless without the accompanying passport. It seemed malicious the fact that the tickets had gone too. Luckily my passport was there. I packed up my belongings, bade Gwyd farewell - he was off to southern Turkey for a week. I had an adventure ahead of me. No-one would spoil it. Tea Leaves can find their own way down the drain. Liverpool had won the European Cup. I had to spread the good news around Europe before I went home.

I'm not quite sure where it really sprung from. Maybe the cloudy hangover head, maybe the drunken euphoria from the previous night. It could have been the anger over the fact that the guy who I had predicted would rip me off had done just that. Or maybe the fact my betfair account had swollen intensely after all the money I had placed on Liverpool to win the Champions League at the start of the season had now come good. I zipped off to the internet cafe to transfer the winnings to my account and plot a course for home. I knew a girl from the internet. A beautiful Doors fan from Serbia. I had told her that one day I would meet up with her. I'd looked on the map and Serbia wasn't too far away. In fact, I had to virtually pass her doorstep to go from Turkey back to Hungary. I emailed her to tell her I was on my way. We had won the cup and I had to go to Europe too...(maybe we'll win the league next year)

Jim Morrison
Kim Morrison - The Lords and the New Creatures


I left the hotel and got a little bit lost. I ended up being invited in by a carpet shop salesman in Istanbul; to join him for a cup of tea. It is a sin to turn down hospitality and I had been treated like a king throughout Turkey. I only had a short while left there so I popped in for a quick apple tea and a chat about carpets. I said that carpets weren't really my forte, my area of expertise. What I can tell you is that the Turks take a lot of pride in their carpets. Some of them are extremely beautiful and very expensive. I prooised the guy I would see what I could do for him from back in UK. I am a man of my word so I've chucked a little link below to his website. If any of you need a Turkish rug get in touch with my matey. He brews a great cuppa and he has loads of carpets. I wonder if he's any magic ones. I need to get to Serbia....

Aytek rug store, Istanbul

click on the aytek link for the authentic turkish carpet experience


I had enjoyed passing through Bulgaria and wanted to see a bit more of the place. Sofia, the capital, was en route to Serbia. There wasn't a direct train running to Belgrade from Istanbul for a few days. The bloke in front of me at the train station was headed to Sofia so I introduced myself and told the ticket seller I'd have one of what he's having. I like the name Sofia and thought it would be an interesting place to visit. My new mate, Alan, and I, then headed back to the local bar to get smashed for the day. Alan, who was huge, about 6 foot eight, was a red who had travelled on his own to the match from Bulgaria where he now lived in a 15 room ski chalet he owned. He was a top bloke and in the state I was in it was good to have someone to keep a watchful eye over me. YNWA. Rough travelling with a broken wrist is not easy. Try packing your bag, lifting your rucksack, finding your train tickets & passport for the conductor etc. with a gammy hand... The stink of it sweating away in the scorching heat is bad enough. Alan and I were wasted by the time we jumped on the train and left Turkey. We had made a fatal mistake just before leaving, however. Trains have no food on them. We had to eat. Yes you've guessed it. It was the Champions League and we were having kebabs.....

Turkish kebabs

Mixed Meat Turkish kebabs. Beware!


Have you got any immodium?



The laugh was at my expense. Luckily I had escaped running around Turkey with the Shits as the song went.... I didn't need the immodium as mentioned in the second verse (We'll be running around Turkey with the shits (repeat)...singing have you got any Immodium? (repeat)- to the tune of She'll be coming around the mountain) I was Ok for the train journey - just rather drunk, but OK. Alan saw me off the train in Bulgaria and, speaking the lingo, he saw me off to a nice hotel before we parted company as he was headed back to his ski chalet in the mountains. This was where the kebab caught up with me. I spent two days in Sofia, at the Light hotel. I thought I was on my way out. I threw up blood for two days. The blood stopped turning red but a nasty brown flemmy fluid was coming from deep inside. I tried eating but nothing would stay down.

Hotel Lite

My new Bulgarian mates, who worked at the hotel, asked me to accompany them to a big event with Tiesto playing, and being the DJ I am, I really wanted to go. I was rough though. Due to my broken wrist, I was pretty sure that my health insurance was invalid and had I needed to go to hospital at all I would have had to shell out some cash. The state I was in, repatriation seemed a good plan and I did remember my parents telling me they had repatriation insurance for me. I did feel like going home at that stage. I was crashed out in the hotel bed, slipping in and out of conscience. I tried to summon up the strength to do something but my batteries were flat. i managed to switch on the tele. Luckily for me, in a far foreign land, the reds came to the rescue. They were showing a rerun of the final on Bulgarian TV and watching the match for the second time sent me staright back to the stadium. those feelings, that Euphoria. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and the mancky brown liquid seeping out of my guts / lungs / liver soon dried up. I felt on top of the world. What a match. All of the goals had been at the opposite end of the ground from me so I hadn't had a great opportunity to actually see them. What a game though....

Hotel lite

The bouncebackability Liverpool had shown had manifested itself in me. I was Lazurus as I left that hotel to head out on the road again. I had risen from the dead. I had some business in Serbia to attend. A beautiful young lady to meet. My problem lay in getting there. Getting out of Bulgaria would be a mission. The girl in the hotel (see photos) was kind enough to help me out. Not speaking the language doesn't help and in Bulgaria there is a Syrillic (like Russian) alphabet so browsing through any leaflets doesn't inform you of anything. It might as well be written in Chinese! My new friend had it sorted though. Flights weren't really an option and the trains weren't running for a few days. There was, however, a coach. 8 hours on a bus from Sofia to Belgrade. The girl, however, strongly advised against this option. She said that the buses were notoriously bad. She agreed with me that it was a potentially risky situation going to Serbia in the first place, but by bus it was an even worse idea. Fair play to the girl, she was trying to help me out and she kept looking at flights to London via everywhere just to try to get me home safely. I am a nightmare, though, and as stubborn as a mule. My heart was set on Serbia and no-one could convince me otherwise. My team had won the European cup. I was immortal. I was getting used to roughing it. I was like a seasoned traveller by now. A bus wasn't gonna put me off - it was either that or hitch a ride. So, she booked me a ticket and bade me farewell as I hopped in the taxi to head to Sofia bus station.

Hotel lite link

(Thanks to all the staff at Hotel light - If you click on the above link you can get to their website. I'd highly recommend the hotel for any wishing to visit Sofia - especially for the CSKA Sofia - Liverpool match)


Bulgaria was cheap. About 20p change from a quid in the local shops. for a bottle of fanta, a snickers bar and a pack of 20 fags. Not bad going. Bulgarian tobacco, though - is strong, VERY strong. Having smoked that for a while sure puts you off. Since returning to UK I have now actually given up smoking. There's a cure for any nicotine addicts. Smoke Bulgarian cigarettes for a week and you won't smoke again! It is a beautiful country and the people are extremely warm, pleasant and friendly. It is an en vogue place at the moment with tourists taking full advantage of the prices. It won't last forever though, so get out there while you can....

Sofia coach station

At the bus station I checked my tickets and had a couple of hours to wait. I was still a bit fragile and hadn't had a drink since the train coming out of Turkey. I needed food because it had been 48 hours since that laced kebab and I needed energy. I washed a couple of sarnies down with a few beers. Travelling alone is a scary prospect at times. You are always unsure of your immediate environment and a lone traveller is easily susceptible to danger. When you don't speak the language it is even more difficult. I hate going to countries where I cannot speak the native tongue and have to rely on English. I find it rude and a bit ignorant. But everyone speaks English nowadays so I shouldn't worry about it too much. There was a couple of young lads and a girl on the next table to me. I'm a friendly face and enjoy meeting people. Getting to know the locals can never do you any harm. the guy was sat there in an England top which was good enough for me. Universal language = football. I have a new set of friends who will make sure I get on the right bus and out of Bulgaria safely. They are hardcore CSKA Sofia fans and after relaying every breath of THAT game in Istanbul they talked to me about CSKA, their fans, their rivals , Bulgarian football in general. I'd heard of Hristo Stoichkov and that was my entire knowledge of Bulgaria, plus the capital is Sofia and an extended family member from the Wombles. I knew more now.

CSKA  Sofia ticket

I felt generous so I gave my ticket stub to these guys. My stub from the game. I was a representative of my club. It is nice to leave a good impression on people. I was truly shocked at just how bad our reputation is around Europe. After Heysel we have a terrible reuputation. How far that reputation is from the truth I need not tell you but we will still have many years of transforming opinions ahead of us. We are used to adversity at Liverpool, I suppose. Every day in the papers, on the tv, in the houses of parliament. We face a constant uphill struggle. But our solidarity does bring us success. Anyway, in return for my little gift, the guys were straight into their wallets to pull out a treasured stub of their own - a CSKA - Levski Sofia derby match stub. One for the collection. I was thrilled.


The guys have emailed me since I got back and I have promised to put online a load of photos they have sent me of the crazy CSKA fans.


This is a postscript regarding the jailing of Liverpool supporter Michael Shields in Bulgaria. Michael, a young man like myself, just out on a holiday to watch his team play football, wasn't quite so lucky as me. He has been jailed for fifteen years and is currently in a Bulgarian jail.
This is despite the fact someone else has confessed to the crime for which Michael was convicted. I really feel sorry for this young lad and wish his family all the best in trying to secure his freedom. I hope he will be ok. From what I saw of the Bulgarians they were very hospitable but I can't seem that being any consolation to Michael. To offer your support in the attempts to have him freed, please sign the

petition you can get to by clicking here

Michael Shields

Here is a link to BBC news with more info on story

He was like the rest of us and as the song is sung - You'll never walk alone. Let's do all we can to ensure no-one is left behind and make sure this supporter gets home safely.



I was back on the road again.

Until I met Danijela on the internet I had known very little about Serbia. It was part of Yugoslavia. It had a good football team called Red Star Belgrade and Igor is from Croatia. And there was a recent war there. I learnt a bit more about what had been going on. I cannot say I was not scared to travel alone across a country which was being bombed by NATO jets, only ten years ago. I was quite a bit apprehensive. I had looked at the foreign office's advice for Serbia. It was pretty much a no-go zone. If Turkey was a risk area according to the home office, Serbia was to be avoided. I'm never one to listen to others. A Chinese proverb: 'A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion' When it comes to government how can you take their advice seriously? Track records demonstrate how allergic to the truth they are. I was sure that there would be more than meets the eye with Serbia and my hunch was proved correct. OK - Kosovo - or old Serbia is a UN controlled area and fighting is still occurring in the South West of the country. Slobodan Milosovic is on trial in Den Hague and a few key war crime suspects are still on the run. To set the context briefly: Yugoslavia was assembled after the first world war as a result of the break up of the old Ottoman (Turkish) Empire. The Turks had controlled the area for hundreds of years. Serbia has been thoughout history, one of the most ransacked and ravaged places on earth. It has a tendency to be the buffer zone between Europe and Asia. The battlefield. You will have heard of ethnic cleansing and executions etc. the horrors of war. I don't justify any killing but the cobwebs of history, manipulated by politics sprung up just over a decade ago and the breakup of Yugoslavia made neighbours go to war with each other. Religion / race/ politics - the usual ingredients for some messy fighting. Catholic Croatia and Orthodox Serbia were at it hammer and tong and the Ethnic Albanians (Muslim) in Kosovo (Old Serbia) thrown in too, made for a nasty little civil war. Since the end of hostilities sanctions have been imposed on Serbia and the former powerhouse of the Slavic region has been reduced to its knees through trade embargos and international isolation. Whether this is right or not is not my place to decide. What I can say is that Serbia is beautiful and I have never been to a friendlier place on earth. The following few days, the final part of my journey, were amazing and as a traveller, the experience was flawless.

'Do not anxiously hope for that which is not yet come; do not vainly regret what is already past.'

The past is the past. Learn our lessons and move on. Serbia is Europe. We have to forgive our brethren and help them back to their feet. Ok - their government may not have been the most sensitive or diplomatic. People make mistakes. The Serbs deserve not to suffer any more than is necessary. If Turkey can be championed to a place in the European Community when it's in Asia and allows the British embassy to be bombed etc., why can't Serbia be reunited with the international community? The Serbs are hopeful, civilised and misrepresented in public opinion. Trust me on this. I have travelled far and wide, circumnavigating the globe. I have seen a lot. Serbia is special. Perhaps it may be as a result of the scars of what has happened there. What I do know is that they were all supporting Liverpool - maybe one or two Russians and Italians I met were behind Milan but the rest were fanatical redmen....

Map Serbia, former Yugoslavia

My bus journey was a nightmare. I am half immune to coaches with evry journey to Anfield being about a nine-hour round trip on a bus for me and I rarely miss a game. This bus was a nightmare though. It was cheap, but the cheerfulness of the journey was lost when I reached the Bulgarian-Serbian border. I told you bureaucracy was a national obsession for the Bulgarians. Well - Serbia had their troubles. This international border was a bit of a mad one. As we arrived, a massive thunder storm rolled in from the Serbian mountains. Massive gusts of wind ripped up swirls of roadside sand and forked lightning and thunder claps paved the way for an intense hail storm. For European weather, this was quite intense. Welcome to Serbia. I had convinced myself I would be leaving in a body bag.

lightning, thunderstorm, Serbia

We were over three hours at the border. Starving hungry. I was concerned, especially when a border guard disappeared with my passport for considerable time. One man spoke broken English on the bus and fair play to him, he took me right under his wing. explaining to me what was happening. We had some gypsies on the bus and the authorities weren't going to let them in. Also, they didn't like the look of the bus driver. We had full bag checks, were marching around here there, everywhere. I must admit they overlooked rummaging through my things. Being accompanied by this bloke must have been the equivalent of VIP status as when you were his mate you were waved through it all. I wasn't conmplaining. Eventually, border control behind us, we reached the major Serbian City of Nis. Here, a bus change was required before on to Belgrade. My new mate took me to the bus station cafe with this pretty looking bird and we sat and chatted. Well - they chatted mainly in Serbian. He warned me to be careful speaking English around groups of strangers, especially at 2am in bus station cafes. There had been a war. Tempers could get frayed. I agreed. He assured me I would be OK. It was late. I had no Serbian money - or euros even. I had been relying on cash machines the whole way round. I was dealing with that many different currencies, it was quite confusing. Typically, when you really need a cash machine - they are nowhere to be found. I was skint and embarrassed. My new friends got the beers in though. That is hospitality. I would have found it very difficult obtaining Serbian money before arriving there in the first instance. On arriving home the Serbian dinar was the only currency the Post Office wouldn't change. Hungarian Florint, Romanian Lei, Bulgarian Lev, Turkish Lira (old and new) were all ok. Serbian Dinar was difficult to change. I had tried in Bulgaria to no avail. I know that a central european currency would be a practical solution to european monetary issues as far as travelling goes. My mate had a big old walking stick:

I asked him how he had hurt his leg.
He said -
'Oh nothing wrong with my leg'.
'Why the walking stick then?'

He'd told me I'd be safe - and safe I was. The very intricately carved walking stick opened out. It was like being in a Bond movie, I swear. The stick was a concealed antique sword. My new matey was smuggling swords from Bulgaria. I was sat there at 2am in some far flung corner of Eastern Europe with a Serbian Samurai, trying not to speak any English. I sometimes question some of the predicaments I get mixed up in. I did, however, feel safe. Belgrade, the capital, was next on the list.

Belgrade train station

Finally, after an unsettled evening on the bus, we arrived at Belgrade. 8 hours had morphed to about 12 or 13. I had been warned. Still - it was good to be off that bus. I was in the heart of Serbia. I parted company with my companions and headed off in the direction of the train station. I now had to get to Valjevo to see Danijela. Serbian is, again, written in Syrillic, so having a clue where you're going is difficult, at best. I had, however, started to understand the spoken language quite well. - similar sounding to French, I thought.


Arkan, Serbian warlord, Red Star Belgrade supporter

(This is Arkan, head of Red Star Belgrade's supporter's club till he decided to use the supporters' club as a founding base for one of the craziest paramilitaries groups during the war. As head of Arkan's tigers, he led an interesting life to say the least before being gunned down in a Belgrade hotel lobby in 2000)

I lugged my bags to the train station. It was 5am, dawn in Belgrade. No train till about 9 o'clock. No cash machines. no money. No food. No Turkish Coffee. I sat down and watched the world go by. You needed a few coins to use the station toilets so I had to wait. The bureau de change opened at 7am. I waited. I smoked. I watched the police wander about with their guns. I saw army come and go. I was one of the first at the station that day. It was interesting watching the day unfold. They started blasting out some music which certainly eased the pressure of waiting. Exchange open. Florint to Dinar. 1 single to Valjevo. A large Turkish coffee and a nice looking Sara bread which is like a pastry full of cheese. This was paradise after that bus journey. I relaxed a little. the sun was shining. It was going to be a lovely day.



The train was cancelled as the line was down between Beograd (Serbian spelling) and Valjevo. It may have had something to do with the new mass grave they had just found on the outskirts of the city, I'm not sure. BBC News 24 comes in useful at times when you're on your hols... Anyway - I was on a bus halfway, then a transfer to train transfer. No-one speaks English and I speak no Serbian. Life's great. I've got my lucky Liverpool socks on though and with my free beach towel no-one can fail to notice I'm a red. Carrying the flag. Winning the European Cup does command respect. My new mate, Vladimir is on the train and we have a good old chat, mainly about footie, and I am settled as the train pulls into Valjevo. YNWA. Never.

Taxi driver doesn't understand me so I'm walking - can't be too far. I need an internet cafe to contact Danijela and find a hotel. I am stinking after that coach trip. oops - I'm in the middle of a load of tower blocks. Obviously the rough part of town. Good start. Internet Cafe shut down permanently. Not good. Keep walking. Hot, sticky, heavy bags, no energy, need another turkish coffee. THEY are strong. I find a Roma bar. An official Italian football bar. Stroll in of course. Hey - Liverpool - no-one speaks English. But I have a feeling we beat Roma in Rome in 1984 so it's fun in there anyway and having met Alan Kennedy in the Bull - I can't exactly walk past this place, can I? Anyway my new matey points me in the direction of the town's best hotel. They are bound to have the internet there...

Valjevo Grand Hotel, Serbia
Grand hotel, Valjevo. Internet is down. Lovely room though. Classy hotel. I've stayed in worse five star hotels. Room is huge. weighing in at about 25 quid a night the price is certainly affordable. I'll stay a while, I think. No rush to head home, is there? I do need to find the internet though. Problem solved. I ring my mate, Damian, in London, and get him to do my dirty work for me. Email the bird, Damo, and tell her I've arrived and want to see her. He thought it was quite funny. A phone call out of the blue from his buddy in the middle of Serbia to sort out some bird. I started calling him Cilla. Damo is a good old mate - he knows me well - nothing surprises him. He had that wrapped up in no time - I had a date ther following day. He had a right laugh, and we both ran up extortionate phone bills.... Sleep then food, then beer in no partuicular order. I had to meet this bird nearby so I popped out for a scout about.

I found my local.

caffe diskoteka Bioskop, Valjev, Serbia

One of the bar staff spoke English too. So I got stuck into some Fanta. I was trying to be as presentable as possible for the bird and didn't want to be drunk or recovering when I saw her. Istanbul had been hard. I reckon I was consuming 30-40 pints a day there. Far too much. But fun. My liver had almost collapsed. So Fanta it was.

As usual, before long I managed to know everyone in town. I was a curiosity, but that tends to happen anyway without me being a foreigner. I work in bars and clubs. It is my job to meet and know people. Second nature. Anyway they've rolled the red carpet out in Valjevo. They all want to hear about Liverpool. I pop back to the hotel for a bit of grub. Top nosh and would yuou believe it - I've landed on my feet again. I ask the waiter what exactly the restaurant is doing jammed full of beautiful women. Oh - don't mind that, sir, they're just preparing for the modelling competition later on this evening. Well, steak for dinner, the desert is sorted.... I'm now effectively the international guest of honour at this Serbian modelling competition. A proper show too. I meet the local media crew and their buddies and we're sat around drinking and watching the birds flutter up and down the catwalk. As ever, I'm loving the situation...

Grand hotel, Valjevo, SerbiaSerbian models, Grand Hotel, Valjevo

Some nice girls out there in Serbia, lads, I can assure you. Anyway. I'm drunk again I think and back over to the Kaffe for a couple of swift ones with my new mates there. Swopping telephone numbers and addresses constantly. It is very friendly here. How stupid of me to be scared. They haven't had many tourists since the troubles. The hotel did have some guests from an Irish European commission once, who were there on a conference, but other than that, no English speakers. Lots of Russians and Italians scattered about but I didn't see a native English speaker form the time I left my mate in Sofia till I stepped onto the plane in Budapest. Lots of Liverpool fans, but no British.

Zoran, Red Star Belgrade supporter

Zoran (Red Star Belgrade)

My new mate from Kaffe Bioskp, Zoran was fanatical about Red Star Belgrade. He had loved the match and I gave him my beach towel in exchange for a Red Star scarf. Forging links across the world, that is football. Red Star's name is on that trophy we are keeping. They won it 5-3 on penalties against Marseille in Bari in 1991. A good side. Even if they are now part of the legion of clubs in Abramovich's portfolio. Something fishy is going on, I suspect.... Will we see a breakaway European / World league soon? I expect we'll see that sooner than we'll ever see Chelsea winning a European cup!

Valjevo at night

A relatively early night and I was up to meet Danijela the next day. I half tidied myself up but all I had to wear was a couple of football shirts some shorts etc. They were all dirty. I just banged on the kit top, some flip flops and headed out. I am proud of Liverpool. Any bird has to accept them. Rules of the game. I've felt better that's for sure. I thought it was pretty romantic heading halfway across the world to meet this woman anyway. Romantic for me.

waterfall, Valjevo

I think she's beautiful. Good company too. I needed to see a woman to calm me down after the football and Danijela did that. She showed me her town. It was great. Scenic forests, Rivers and waterfalls, Mountains and monuments. I strolled around the town with her and it was great. We'd won the European cup. I was flying high. The Doors had bought us together. The Doors and Liverpool. What a combination!


Lizard Queen

Fun though. I was having the time of my life.

I stayed in Valjevo for a few days and made a load of new friends. I genuinely think the town were sorry to see me go. They waved me off at the bus stop and I was sad to leave. My journey was drawing to a close but as ever it is a question of Au revoir and not Adieu. I shall return to Serbia soon. I have a few gigs lined up there and a pretty lady waiting.

I headed off into the sunset as my train left Belgrade for Budapest that evening. My journey was drawing to a close. Two Serbian businessmen shared my sleeper carriage and we had a right good chinwag about all sorts before we arrived in Budapest. I strolled through the Serbian border, no problems at all. I might add that the international isolation enforced on Serbia means that travel is difficult for them. They should be part of Europe again, welcomed into the fold. their economy has been crippled. Act now, Europe bring them back, and you save yourself further problems. Lessons of history always remind us that obstinacy creates conflict. I would like to take some of my new friends up to Anfield to watch a game. Without a visa they can't go. I can have complete freedom of movement in their country. It would be nice to be able to reciprocate things.

A morning of coffee and breakfast with my new mate Krsto from Montenegro and his website designing friend. The Dutch referendum from the previous day meant a busy day ahead in the currency markets in Budapest. Euros to dollars. It was hot again. Krsto left me to go see his broker at 9. I headed to the airport. Plane. Home.
Weather poor. Everything goes wrong as usual from the moment you land. Why bother coming home? Always the same question... Still, the new season's just around the corner. I hear Rafa's planning a week or two in Paris next May for me. Spring by the Seine sounds good. Paisley retained the title. It would be nice if you could repeat that feat, Rafa. No pressure or anything. Premiership would go down a treat too. A few players have medal collections to complete....

Liverpool, Steven Gerrard lifting European Cup


Seriously lads, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me the adventuire of my life. I will die a happy man. The manner in which that victory was achieved will live in the collective conciousness for eternity. We did it. We won the European Cup.



European Cup that Liverpool now keep!

Football's coming home, so is the European Cup....


Wesley Gerrard


Champions League Final 2005


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woman playing football



I hope you have enjoyed
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We may win in Paris in May

Well Definitely I'd say....

I shall keep you posted.


Well, we've been offline for a while, here at Hungary for Turkey. We've finally managed to get our act together and get the great story of Istanbul back to your computer screens. For your interactivity now there is the Hungary for Turkey facebook group, complete with message board...

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