Diary of a Croatian fan at Euro 2008, part 6

by Mystical Mike

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Monday 16th June

Today we’ll be making the trip over to Klagenfurt for what for us is a dead rubber against the Poles. In the interests of saving cash we’ve decided to drive straight back after the game. It’s a decision Zitko isn’t entirely happy about as he has to do all the driving meaning his drinking will have to take a hit for one night. However as both myself and Atterby forgot our driving licenses its one he’ll have to live with, Atterby hardly helps the situation by filling the car with larger and continually declaring his intention of drinking himself stupid and being sick everywhere. To say that George is taking one for the team here would be an understatement.

We’ve got a new Croatian football anthems CD too now, so with that pumping at full volume in the car, we set off, strangely not as adrenaline filled as the last two match days. I guess the fact that Croatia have qualified in first place already make it nothing like as tense as the opener or Germany game. I’m tempted to have a nap.

Before driving over to Klagenfurt we have a few things to take care of, top of the list according to Zitko is getting Atterby’s hair cut, as currently he’s making even Chewbacca look reasonably coiffeured. Instead of trying to find a barber I suggest that we find a gardening centre and buy some shears. This isn’t a suggestion that goes down well.

Unfortunately by the time we’ve finished messing about in the media centre, including getting some great action shots of Zitko and Atto pretending to be Davor Gavran and Slaven Bilic there’s no time for a visit to either the gardening centre or the barbers. Atterby’s mullet lives to fight another day.

The dudes

The trip from BACF HQ to Klagenfurt is uneventful until we pass through Graz, then suddenly the scenery changes completely and we’re looking down through Sound of Music land – amazing mountain passes and valleys. Unfortunately the beauty is somewhat spoiled by the speed with which Zitko is pushing the BACFmobile through the mountains. Are 1 litre Pandas supposed to go over 100mph? With Hamilton driving, the tunes turned up and the beers flowing (except for Hamilton of course, who is restricted to Red bull) we make good time. Upon arriving in Klagenfurt we park up and make our way to the stadium to film some shots for the website. It’s 2.5 hours until kick off and thousands of supporters are milling around the ground, mixing freely in a subdued atmosphere.

Potting Moblie

The crowd and lack of beer seem to have gotten to Zitko too. His performance is decidedly subdued compared to his passionate Oscar winning performance in Zagreb. We decide to try and conduct a few interviews which we can then cut together in a montage to post on the website. Atterby is, by this time, getting a little lary, so in order to try and keep him away from people we let him control the camera, hoping that he can manage to find the record button and point the damn thing straight.

With his new found media fame, Zitko is convinced that it will be no problem for him to persuade people to speak to the camera, so off he goes. Ten minutes later and he’s been blown out by everyone he’s spoken to. It’s at that point that we realised we’ve lost Atterby. We then spot him about 50 yards away stood in the middle of the road filming. He sees us, waves and trots over.

“I don’t know about you two losers but I’ve got some great footage”, which is slightly confusing as we haven’t spoken to anyone yet. Reviewing the video we see that the great footage he’s talking about consists of a series of tight shots of young ladies bottoms. We all have to agree, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a pert bum.

Then we have a brain wave, we put on our ‘Croatia Media Centre’ passes and start saying we’re from the BBC, hey presto people start chatting. With an hour to go before kick off we decide that its time we made our way back to the fan zone where Croatian fans probably outnumber the Poles 100 to 1. The atmosphere is still subdued, nothing like as passionate as the Germany game. A band is on stage trying to liven things up, and it certainly does the trick for Atterby who starts dancing around like a bit of a loon, much to my and Zitko’s amusement. Unfortunately readers he’s also got hold of the camera so we weren’t able to record any footage of his 1980’s body popping style moves. Worryingly he also gets a ripple of applause from a group of bemused Croatians playing cards (that’s how subdued it was) when he’s finished.

When the game starts it’s a bit of an anti-climax. Despite fielding a very much under strength side, the Croatians are far too good for their Polish opposition, and eventually run out 1-0 winners. The only real excitement occurs when Klasnic scores and a couple of ‘Vatreni’ set off flares before being quickly ejected by the ‘tooled up’ Austrian security.

As soon as the game end we make a quick dash for the car, half dragging Atterby behind us who by this stage seems to have made good on his promise to drink his weight in larger. Dumping him in the back of the BACF mobile, myself and Zitko get fired up on Red Bulls for the drive back to the potting sheds, and as he drives I’m hard at work writing up the official BACF match report.

Oh, and if I’ve learnt one thing today, it’s that Atterby does indeed snore, and very, very loudly.

Andrija Tadic reports for UK Football Finder from the leading Croatian football website become a croatia fan.

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