What do you do when you are hungover in Bucharest? The correct answer is to sleep. The wrong answer is to go the a nice garden restaurant get stuck into some very nice beer before getting an Uber 35 minutes out of town to Chijana to watch the first game of the season for both Concordia Chiajna versus Poli Timisoara in Romania’s top flight the delightfully latin sounding, Liga 1. A few words about Bucharest.
As someone who has lived in Hungary for five plus years, it has been dripfed to me that Bucharest is the last place in the world that you would want to visit. I was pleasantly surprised by the city itself, but somewhat shocked by the state of the Old Town which had nightlife right out of a lively Spanish/Greek resort aimed at the British 18-30 market. It was hectic and loud with a lot of gyrating if that is your kind of thing.
Chiajna was not hectic nor loud and there was no gyrating. Located just outside of the city limits, there was a strong and pervasive smell of sulphur lingering over the ground. This did not aid the semi-state of drunkenness and hungover that I was now in. The ground was a fairly modern in a late 90s kind of way. Four stands all seater. A weird sports centre replaced a stand in one of the corners. The sport centre itself was not weird, rather its location. The stadium seemingly sat slightly below street level. There was no ticket office. Well there was, but it was shut so I approached the steward and in my best Romanian asked ‘Ou est les billetes?’. He understood. And pointed us around the corner to where a man was handing out billetes for free left right and centre. He gave us five. There were three of us. As we searched for our gate. The stand signage was wrong, another man noticing our lostness gave us another three tickets and led us to the entrance. So many billetes.
We were in the Old Boys stand where men came to escape their wives, eat sunflower seeds and bemoan the quality of the game. I like this stand. There was no food or drink available, which always seems like a missed opportunity. These two teams narrowly missed relegation last season and you could see why. The quality was on a par with that which I watch in Bucharest’s rhyming brother, Budapest. It was quite slow and there seemed to be some ring rustiness. Timisoara wore a fetching pink, but had no away fans. Timisoara’s (the town that is) football fans have recently set up a fan run club in the form of ASB Poli Timisoara who are making their way through the leagues at present. It is hard to see how Liga 1 can cope with two Poli Timisoara’s when ASB finally make the leap to the top flight from the second tier where they play currently. As I said, the game was poor. Poli won it with a goal from an unmarked striker from about two yards out. Terrible defending. Concordia gave it a go, but ultimately quality was not their friend. An air kick with the goal gaping and an attacking thrown-in limply tossed out for a goal kick probably summed up their day. It looks like being another long hard season for these two. Maybe Poli will do ok.
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