I was so excited for the match yesterday. I've become somewhat attached to Sportul Snagov following many visits to Snagov, and Romania generally, in the past three years. With Sportul Snagov being a fairly new club I have not become aware of the club until this season. I have since followed them almost as closely as I have followed my primary club, Sheffield Wednesday. This is my first trip to Romania since the summer and I planned on seeing Sportul Snagov in action yesterday and once again on Saturday.
We arrived in Romania late on Saturday and when we landed it was extremely foggy to the extent visibility was less than twenty meters. I was actually surprised we landed as smoothly as we did. With there being a lot of snow predicted this week we were not sure if the game would go ahead and if it did, where it would go ahead. Snagov play their fixtures at a few different locations depending on the weather, and it was not until Monday that I found out where the game would be played.
The club messaged me to let me know the match would be taking place in Buftea, a town of some twenty-thousand people. The plan was for my girlfriend's mother to drive us to their friend's house where my girlfriend would spend the afternoon cooking and baking with her friend. My girlfriend's mother would then drive me to that match and then return to spend time with her daughter and their mutual friend. I would then be picked up after the game and have lunch with the three of them. Simple plan.
We drove to the stadium in Buftea but it was difficult to find. The stadium is small and easy to miss as it stands almost entirely behind a wall approximately three meters tall. We asked for directions and were pointed in the direction of a small side road and we quickly saw we were at the stadium. As we spoke with the man there, the problems were two-fold. The websites I had checked had stated that the match would start at 12:00. However, these websites were using GMT and not GMT+2. The match was scheduled to kick-off at 14:00. Also, we were at the wrong stadium.
I sent the club a message with a screenshot of my GPS map asking if I was in the right place. I was at Buftea stadium but I needed to be at Centrul de Fotbal Buftea FRF. In fairness, they had said that the first time but when I typed into my phone "buftea football" it had directed me in the direction of Buftea stadium. Not a problem though, the actual venue was only a short-ish drive away.
My travelling companion and I had a good laugh at the situation. As we had time to kill, she drove me to a nearby factory that the family owns that produces animal feed. The family is heavily involved in farming and agriculture and they are rightfully proud of the business they have built. The factory was impressive, to my untrained eye at least, and it was nice to see a little bit more of the family business on the practical side. I have seen the main office of the business right from the initial construction all the way through the completed building that is now a hive of activity. But it was interesting to see the more practical side of the operation.
We found our way to the Centrul de Fotbal, which is literally in the middle of nowhere. On all sides there is empty land for several hundred meters. It is a really strange location for a football pitch. This Centrul de Fotbal is a small, but new building and I have placed an image of it below:
Unfortunately the pitch looked nothing like the above picture when we arrived. It was covered by several inches of snow. The Argeș team had arrived and we exchanged a few words with their players and staff asking whether the game looked likely to go ahead. At this point it was around 12:45 and although efforts were underway to clear the pitch it did not look promising.
We made the difficult decision to leave and I felt bad at having imposed on my girlfriend's mother all this time. I sent the club a message stating I would not be there as it did not seem as though the game would go ahead with all the snow. We drove back to the town to go to the supermarket and pick up a few supplies for lunch. On a slightly different subject, there is a chain of supermarkets in Romania called Mega Image. They are brilliant supermarkets. Think Tesco, but with class and you are not too far away. The range of fresh meats, fruits and vegetables is incredible and they have a very respectable bakery as well. I picked up a poppy seed pretzel to have later.
As we were getting ready to pay the club messaged me to say they had arrived at the venue and the Head Coach was confident the game would go ahead. I looked at my companion and she looked at me and smiled; she would drive me back to the Centrul de Fotbal. I would see Snagov play. I would go to the ball!
We arrived back at the stadium and it was looking a lot more lively. I was dropped off near the gates and started to walk through to the stand. The time was around 13:37 - less than half an hour until kick-off. I had my pretzel, a snickers-duo and a bottle of water. I was stopped from entering and I could not understand why; my Romanian is poor to say the least. From what I gathered, my water was the problem. I turned around to see my girlfriend's mother watching so I walked back to the car and handed my water back. Still I was prevented from entering the stadium. We called over to the security who came over and explained I was not allowed into the stadium and that kick-off was postponed until 15:00. An hour and twenty minutes to wait. There was nowhere I could wait until kick off as this was literally a stretch of road in the middle of a field with the whole complex fenced off. I should add the temperature was below freezing and it was still snowing lightly.
At this point my enthusiasm for the whole enterprise was shot. I gave up and we started the drive back to the house. My girlfriend and her friend had been kept up to date with all the events. I could not resist a wind up on the way back explaining that I was actually returning for a third time to try and watch the match.
I sent the club a message explaining what had happened and their reply was apologetic. None of this was their fault though. It was just bad luck with the weather and bad organisation from the people at the stadium. It turns out there was no reason to turn me away and I should have been allowed through. I ended up having a fun afternoon though with plenty of good food and I got to meet two dogs, including one of my favourites - a German Shepherd. We ate a meal of meatballs, salad, fresh chillis, homemade bread and cheeses. For dessert I was asked by my girlfriend to make a fruit crumble, and so it was that instead of attending a football match I taught three Romanian women how to make a classic British dessert. This is how it turned out:
The apple and blackberry crumble went down very well and after some time with the dogs we made our way back home to Snagov. It should also be noted that Sportul Snagov's normal stadium is visible from the back garden of the house we were in. Seriously. We drove up to it and had a look and the pitch seemed fine. It would have been so much simpler had the game taken place there instead.
Sportul Snagov are playing again on Saturday morning and I was initially going to attend. However, even before this debacle I had made other plans. Saturday is the first of December and this is the main Romanian national holiday. 2018 also marks a century since the country was unified, and so this year is extra special and there is a big parade planned for the day in Bucharest. I had already agreed to go to the city instead of the football that day. It could only happen to me, that I travel across Europe to watch two games of football and end up seeing none.
Snagov beat Argeș 1-0 with a late penalty, by the way.
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Critic. Writer. Thinker. Observer. Creator of nowwelive.com.