Trip to Croatia

Rob Halligan 25/08/2017 17comments  |  Jump to last

So there we have it. The trip to hell, as it was billed in the lead up to our departure date.

We arrived in Split, via Munich, on Tuesday afternoon. After a quick pint in the bar next to the hotel, we made our way to the promenade, probably about a 20 minutes walk.

It was really difficult to decide where to start, as there are literally hundreds of bars and restaurants on the promenade. Every back alley or side street had bars. The place is also heaving with tourists, thousands of them!


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We had something to eat then started a mini pub crawl. We spoke to a few Split fans who were fine, and they told us we would have nothing at all to worry about on the day of the match. Wasn't quite like that last night, but more about that later.

We eventually made our way back to our hotel around 2.00am.

Wednesday morning, and me two mates decide to go on a walking tour of the city. Not quite my scene that, so I said I would go to the stadium, which was only about 10 - 15 minutes walk away. I set off and was soon there. Had a walk around and found our section. Was right next to what appeared to be a coach park, as a couple of coaches were parked up.

As I'm walking round I met a Blue I know. He was down there trying to suss out the best escape route after the match!! We thought the best way would be the way I had walked from the hotel. How wrong we were!

Anyway we both walked back to the hotel to meet me two mates. A few pints in the bar, were a couple of the barmen were Split fans and were going to the match. Jeez, they even bought us all a pint or two. Really nice, friendly people.

From here back to the promenade, when the first signs of potential trouble began to appear. The first bar we stopped at had a few blues sitting outside. Also present was a few police vans. We were informed that there were some Split fans further up the street we had just walked down, but we never saw any. We all soon dispersed and went our own separate ways. We managed to find a bar that unfortunately had the RS game on, but after being on the ale since 1PM, we weren't really arsed about it. Again, we were talking to locals who reassured us about our safety the following night.That game finished at 10.30 so we decided to call it a day.

Thursday morning, and the other two decide to go the stadium. I stayed in bed with me hangover. When they eventually got back, it was back down to the promenade. Early afternoon and by now Split fans were appearing. They all seem to wear a replica shirt or a scarf round their waist or wrists. Some even wore what appeared to be specially designed black or white tee shirts. So even though we had been advised not to wear any colours, we still seemed to stick out. By now we were hearing of trouble. Someone told to remove an Everton polo shirt, someone hit with a bottle, some chased into a bank. We decided on our plan of action. To walk back to our hotel and have a few in the bar next door, then take the known 10 minute walk to the stadium. By now there was six of us, a few more mates had arrived during the day.

Little did we know that this bar is frequented by Split fans. One or two seemed to be eyeing us up, but as most of them seemed quite friendly, nothing happened. At this point, a couple of Split fans got talking to us. Friendly fellas who told us to be careful and advised us how to get to the stadium. Both were wearing colours, so we thought it would be a good idea if we walked up with them. They agreed to walk with us, but a different way to the one we knew. They took us up a narrow street, stopping to buy some cans. Then onwards, passed some ugly looking tenement blocks, before passing a bar heaving with Split fans. A few looks but no words said by them.

We finally came out by the stadium, where an outdoor drinking area had been constructed. This was when it got hairy. One of our lot said to a Split fan could he have a photo taken with us. Fuck off, English pigs, he said. Our Croatian pal explained we were with him, but just told him to get us the fuck out of there. One or two others were shouting at us, so we just walked on. We got to our section a good 90 minutes before kick off. Totally unheard of, but what else could we do??

After the game, we were initially told we would be kept in for about 45 minutes, when buses would be laid on to ferry us back to the promenade. When they finally let us out, we were then left standing outside the ground, but no sign of any buses. Finally movement, at about 12.30AM. We were herded through a small gap in the fence, and down a steep slope. In the distance was TWO buses, which soon filled up. Some started to walk away, us included, but we were met by a line of police. Loads more blues soon followed, before one of the buses left, under a heavy escort. Next minute, all those on the second bus came walking up the hill. Apparently that bus had broken down. We could see a few Split fans over the road, but not enough to cause any trouble.

Eventually the police decided to walk us back under a heavy escort. After walking for about 15 minutes or so, we came to a halt. A line of police stopping us from going any further. Apparently ahead of us were hundreds of them. Next minute the shout to turn round and head back the way we had just come. But behind us was another bus, God knows where it came from, but loads got on, us included. Off we went, under heavy escort, and indeed, down a side street were what seemed to be hundreds of them. I've since heard that those who couldn't get on this bus eventually carried on walking back under a heavy police escort, and made it safely back to the promenade.

The bus dropped us at the promenade, at the opposite end to where we wanted to be. We set off, passing bars full of Split fans. At this point there was only the three of us, myself and two mates I travelled with. Luckily these fans seemed ok as nothing was said, but we weren't to know that, fully expecting to be jumped. We got to the way we knew back to our hotel, passing one or two more groups of Split fans, who to be fair, just seemed to be having a good time, and not the least bit interested in us.

We finally got back to our hotel, a good three hours after the final whistle, and what should have only been a 10 -15 minute walk.

I'm sorry if this post is a too long, but as I was saying before leaving for Split, we never expected any trouble, and to be fair, we never saw any. Ok, we had one or two scary moments, but that was it. Other than what we heard earlier in the day, we've not heard of any other trouble, unless somebody else can inform me of any?

Split is a lovely city and I would seriously consider going back...

but only for a few days' holiday with the missus!

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Reader Comments (17)

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Chris Williams
1 Posted 26/08/2017 at 07:51:57
Well done Rob and thanks for the update. I'm glad you didn't experience anything worse than the messing about after the game and some trepidation which was unsurprising. Hopefully your prevailing memories will be positive, and THAT GOAL!

There have been no real horror stories emerging so far, other than the things you mentioned, and of course the Mail reporting that Everton supporters were breathalysed, arrested and denied access to the game. Not clear how many.

It shouldn't really be like that should it, worrying about safety. The next few trips look a lot more enticing to make up for it. Enjoy!

Mike Gaynes
2 Posted 26/08/2017 at 08:06:36
Glad you're home safe, Rob. I know the wife and the cat were both worried about you.
Andy Meighan
3 Posted 26/08/2017 at 08:27:56
Yes, you were right, the post was too long. I've just spent my entire break in work reading the bleeding thing.
Peter Mills
4 Posted 26/08/2017 at 08:50:30
Cheers Rob, hope the goal, beer and bubbles made the trip worthwhile.
Paul Tran
5 Posted 26/08/2017 at 08:52:34
Thanks for this, Rob. Couple of my mates went over and said it was no different from countless away games weve all been to. Saw some lovely stories on Twitter about friendly locals, as well as the nasty incidents you mentioned. Glad you got home safe and enjoy the group stages! Lyon is a lovely place with very good food!
Darren Hind
6 Posted 26/08/2017 at 09:30:56
"I'm sorry if this post is too long"... It wasn't long enough mate.

I've got you down as long odds on to win the 17/18 most-ale-houses-visited-by-a-blue award. I love to read about other peoples European experiences, especially if I haven't been.

Hope TW get you signed up for reports from Italy, Cyprus and France.

Tony Abrahams
7 Posted 26/08/2017 at 09:58:07
Back to the eighties Rob? I'm glad you had a great time mate, which is what it should always be about.

I heard the people you left behind, eventually had enough and just steamed the Split fans, which is apparently what they did. Doesn't surprise me really, because the stories coming out are that these were the ultimate bullies, who only wanted to fight when they had much bigger numbers?

Nothing worse than constantly looking over your shoulder, when alls you want to do is have a laugh. I've lived through both era's, and the way it is now is so much more enjoyable for the average fan.

Maybe the Russians are right, legalise it, but let it take place in the middle of nowhere, whilst all the people who just want to have fun, can enjoy the footy, then have a good laugh in peace!

Dave Abrahams
8 Posted 26/08/2017 at 10:06:21
Thanks for the story of your trip, like loads on here and in general glad you had a relatively safe journey, and one to talk about in the future.

You've started now Rob, so you are duty bound to tell us your future trips, right up to the final.

Kevin Tully
9 Posted 26/08/2017 at 10:15:36
Nice one, Rob. I don't know how you do it mate, I know you'll be up early for the trip to Chelsea...where do you get the stamina? I need a week on the couch after a trip like that!

Let's hope we finally see some silverware this season, long suffering fans such as yourself deserve no less. The story reminded me of a few hairy trips down South in the 80's, especially West Ham. Keep safe, brother.

John Raftery
10 Posted 26/08/2017 at 10:26:38
Well done Rob for your report which gives a very accurate flavour of what it was like. As you know I was in the final group of about 150 - 200 escorted down to the harbour promenade. By that stage the number of police matched the number of supporters.

The receptionist in my hotel, a Hajduk supporter, was at the match. He said it was always like this at their European matches. They have teenage fans, idiots he called them, who have no purpose in life other than to create trouble. As he put it the police operation would be aimed at preventing trouble rather than curing it but it required hundreds of coppers and it took nearly three hours after the game to get people back to the city centre which was hardly twenty minutes walk from the stadium.

While the police made sure we were not attacked, they seemed more concerned that we behaved ourselves rather than sorting out those home fans who were looking to create trouble. That may not be accurate but it was my perception.

There was also a complete lack of any communication. Nobody explained what the plan was after the match. We stood outside the stadium until, as Rob says, half an hour after midnight, with not a word said about when we would be moving. Then why the hell we were told to go down that unlit, grassy slope away from the stadium I will never know. I assume the police wanted to minimise the opportunity for an attack from fans on the estate just off the main road back to the city centre.

All the local people in the hotels, bars and restaurants that I met were friendly and very helpful. It is a pity a small minority of Split fans were allowed to create so much inconvenience and hassle.

It would be interesting to know how many arrests were made on the night of home and away fans. Very few is my guess.

Mark Riding
11 Posted 26/08/2017 at 13:06:00
Good read Rob, bit long for me though.
Derek Thomas
12 Posted 26/08/2017 at 13:49:08
Yeah nice one Rob; with a nod to Ken Buckley, write one per game...from-o, my-o, seat-o, abroad-o.

I'll get me coat.

Edit; Off Topic I know, but watching B'mouth Vs City...still like that Josh King.

Dean Tierney
13 Posted 26/08/2017 at 15:14:55
Unfortunately me and my brother got cornered in a side street on Wednesday afternoon, where I took a kick to my left eye. We clocked them a few times during the day so assumed we were getting followed. After attempting to convince them we don't like football we were warned that if they found out we were lying they'd kill us.

Very intimidating, but fortunately not much physical damage (apart from my poor sunglasses, which fell, smashed and were left on the floor). They should be banned from Europe, which is a shame because Split as a city has so much going for it. Roll on Italy, France & Cyprus.

Dave Rusk
14 Posted 26/08/2017 at 15:32:30
As I've mentioned on another thread, I was on that last bus. It was crowded and didn't break down as such but wouldn't start due to overloading. A copper got on and said 10 people had to get off so the bus could start. With no other buses there no-one was going to volunteer so we all got off and walked the mile or so back to the centre under heavy police protection.

Every 200-300 metres, the police stopped our procession to clear bars of potential troublemakers. As you say Rob, it was scary at the time and very intimidating but, in the cold light of day, nothing bad actually happened.

Why were there no Everton stewards there? They could have liaised with the police so we'd have known what was going on during the hour and a half after the game.

My Hajduk supporting taxi driver said the next day: "Don't take offence – they hate all away fans." Little comfort.

Trevor Skempton
15 Posted 26/08/2017 at 18:48:57
After the game, my wife Helen and myself - both in our seventies - scrambled down the bank and got on, then off, the second bus, which wasn't moving. Most fans then moved on up towards the main road. We hung back, unsure whether the first bus was going to return. There were plenty of police still around.
A car stopped and asked if we wanted a lift. We were very dubious - they said they were plain clothes police officers. They showed us their badges and Helen asked for further ID! Which they produced! They gave us a lift through the tunnel, less than a mile to our hotel next to the fanzone. Three hours after the final whistle!
Colin Gee
16 Posted 26/08/2017 at 20:37:28
Got back home at 0130 this morning then was up for work at 8 o'clock. Great trip away.

I was scrambling down that grassy bank as well along with everyone else Trevor!

One thing I must say which doesn't seem to have been mentioned was how well us Evertonians conducted ourselves whilst stood outside waiting for the roads to clear and the buses to arrive. I suspect fans of some other clubs wouldn't have been so tolerant. Everyone just stood around chatting to each other, give yourselves a pat on the back my fellow Evertonians you were a credit to be with.

I did the first bus back which dropped me right outside my apartment at 0100; I wasn't aware that the other one broke down!

Alex Parr
17 Posted 26/08/2017 at 21:33:48
Great write-up Rob, thanks! Glad you were all OK fellow TW'ers

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