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Tashkent – Futball!

November 12, 2015 0 Comments

The game was on Thursday November 12, kick off at 6pm. Some locals told us to get to the ground between 3 and 4pm, as there were no seat allocations. You had an area, we were Bay 10, of 24 Bays around the field, but seats were first come first served. We got there at 3.30pm, by taxi, $2, for a cab ride across town.

Uzbekistan vs North Korea Futball Match

Our Futball Tickets – Uzbekistan Vs. North Korea

When we arrived, two things jumped out at you. Police, trillions of police. And, no women. None we could see. In fact, as we four walked from the cab to the entry gate, all you could see were 2000 brown eyes looking at the girls. Not leeringly, but just, “wow, two women coming to our footy”!

A few blokes at the gate tried to get us in early, as we were obviously different. We deduced later that they were trying to get us into the VIP area, accompanied by them of course! Fair enough for trying. But we came to the footy to sit with the masses and that’s how we wanted it to go.

The gates opened at about 4.45pm, and the crush began. But, the crowd quite deliberately let we four in, with plenty of space and no squashing. How a large group could do that, intuitively, like a flock of birds, I don’t know, but they did.

We got to our seats. Each bay was about 25 seats wide, and 30 or so rows deep, with a policeman at the end of every row. We had a plain-clothes guy near us. We’d “befriended a few neighbours” by then and they explained that the plain-clothes guy would have been KGB, in the old days, pre ’90s. The plain clothes guy was young, and very fit. He also said to Barry, “you will be safe”.

There were five or six uniform cops at the top entry to each bay and they were, like at every other entry, checking bags for bombs, etc. Water bottles were banned, but they missed my two, which were squirrelled away in my back pack.

A half hour before kick-off, with most seats taken, there was a huge push from above and 100 agitated fans pushed over and trampled the five cops at our bay gate and made their way to the front. Order was restored relatively quickly, the agitators were manhandled down to the front, where they had to sit behind the two metre high dog fence. With these cops armed as they are, a disturbance is quelled quickly.

The game got underway punctually at 6.00pm and by 6.02pm NORTH KOREA HAD SCORED! Bloody hell, you could hear a pin drop. The 20 Government sanctioned North Korean (NK) fans in the VIP area, were gently waving their flags, but otherwise, nyet. What happened was NK kicked off, they did a dive that the Italian team would have been proud of, from that, got a spurious free kick from the Iranian referee, used it to cross to the left, the winger sent it back to the centre, and some NK headed it in goal. 90 seconds! Bloody hell.

Anyway, Uzbekistan pushed all half, dominated, and were rewarded with an equaliser after 35 minutes. Time to go berserk with our new found friends! These two teams were NK one and Uzbek two in their pool, so the game was important. At 1-1, NK still had the advantage. But the second half saw Uzbek score two goals to win! High 10s all round.

The Uzbek Fan club had a guy starting the ‘Mexican Wave’, during lulls. It was great, I’ve never seen a wave move so fast. It took it nine seconds to do a lap! Also, at half time the fan club guy came over and talked to us, deduced we were from Australia, and got the immediate crowd within earshot to give us three cheers! So we had 300 or so people cheering us for making the effort.

No grog on sale, but by the breath around, plenty of vodka drunk before the game. We saw seven women apart from our girls. Two were adults, the other five kids, so there were 23,991 men, and nine women!

Leaving the ground, as usual it was a log jam at the gate areas, so we walked 600m or so. In Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia it seems all cars are taxis. So, all you do is stick your finger out, a car pulls up, you negotiate a rate for the destination, and if he’s happy, off you go. You get a strike rate of 50 percent – it usually takes two cars to get a deal.

Anyway, after the footy, cars didn’t have enough room to put us in. A traffic cop saw our dilemma, flagged down two police cars, which were full, then got a private cab, all in less than 10 minutes. He would just stand in front of four lanes of traffic and pick the cars out! Amazing. I brought the camera to the game, but left the battery on the charger, so it was a bit hard to take shots with no battery. Barry got some though. It was a great night.

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