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Sunday 27th April 2014 ko 10.00

Beograd Zone Liga

FK ŽELEZNIČAR 4 (Radosavljević 28  30 Tintor 32 Tovilović 85)

FK RESNIK 1 (Stanković 87)

Att 83

Entry 100 RSD (71p)

No Programme

Team Sheet- Comp

Even without alcohol, it felt like the morning after the night before as I awoke in my hotel of Slavija Square. Yes, I had witnessed the madness of the Belgrade Derby but I was worried that a 4th Division game, despite being more what my football is about would seem tame by comparison. I suspected my companions felt the same way as we checked out, and caught the taxi out to the ground by the Sava river with the railway line behind. The fact that near to Stadion FK Železničar our two drivers had to ask directions added to my feeling of unease. We arrived, and my feelings were completely wrong; I’d forgotten about the warmth of a Serbian welcome!

Železničar is Serbian for railwaymen, that line running by the ground is significant, the club was formed in 1924, when a group of workers from the nearby Belgrade Railway Station began playing the game. The club have played as high as the second tier Prva Liga (North section) but these days they play at the top level of football in Belgrade, the fourth tier.

The ground was built in 1935 and has just the one viewable side, rather like many in Malta, and the stand has been reduced to simply its concrete structure, holes showing where benches once stood. There’s so much to like, the manually operated scoreboard, and the players’ tunnel that crosses the street, there’s even the pay booth with the cooker in it (for heat?) and if you get the chance do pay a visit to the clubhouse the other side of the street, it almost smells of football! And get there quickly too, there are moves afoot to flood this part of the riverside for a water-park, the club will get a new ground out of it, but will the character of this wonderful place survive the move?

But do you know what really made the place for us? Smiles, that’s right; everyone associated with the club, from the chap with his basket of nuts right through to the chairman was welcoming and pleased to see us. I asked after the team line-ups and soon enough we all had a team sheet, and pennant each. I’m indebted to Lee West  for converting the Cyrillic to Latin script! We were invited into the boardroom for a coffee (delicious, but don’t stir it!) before the game and at half-time, and for a celebratory shot of firewater after the game. I’ll never take invites like this for granted, and I know all of our party were touched by the club’s kind gesture. I even had a Facebook friend request from a player to greet me when arrived back in England!

The game was reasonably straightforward for our hosts once Stefan Tinto had set up Vujica Radosavljević for the first and second goals then slammed in one of his own in 5 mad minutes for the Resnik defence. The second half was far quieter with Železničar just doing what it took to complete the win. Substute Zeljko Tolvilović slotted home for 4-0 but soon after Resnik’s Vlada Stanković gave Resnik consolation they scarcely deserved.

We returned to the boardroom where along with the schnapps we were presented with a club shirt. That went to Stephen Carpenter (The Chicken Balti Chronicles) whose contacts had got us the tickets for Partizan but Železničar had one more gesture up their sleeve. We’d booked taxis to take us back to the hotel, but probably due to the Belgrade marathon that day, they hadn’t turned up. The club managed to find one cab but when another proved elusive the club doctor gave four of us a lift refusing all offers of payment for his petrol or time.

There’s not much a visitor like me, living 1340 miles (2156 km) away can do for a gallant club like Železničar. However one thing I can do is give them a little publicity, so if you are in Belgrade and you fancy a good couple of hours of entertainment, just point your taxi driver to..  Click here!!

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