Welcome to Hellgrade

“I will pick you up from here after the game, if you are still alive” remarks my taxi driver. I laugh, but I’m pretty sure he isn’t joking. I’ve just arrived at the Marakana for one of the most passionate and explosive derbies in world football. This is Serbia. This is Red Star vs. Partizan. Welcome to Belgrade.

Standing on the North Stand at Red Star Belgrade is an intense and passionate experience whoever the opposition may be, but when city rivals Partizan are the visitors, the city descends into chaos. The next few hours would provide the craziest night of my life, as I was privileged enough to witness a Belgrade derby first hand. Watching football may never be the same again.

IMAG0003I’ll just get out of your way, officer

With kick off scheduled for 6pm on a Saturday night, I thought by arriving at 3pm I would have plenty of time to explore the famous stadium and take some pictures before the madness began later on. I was wrong. The area around the ground is already packed, with thousands of fans and just as many riot police, many of them carrying guns. Despite the risk of getting repeatedly shot in the face, I decide to have a look at what the security outside the away end looks like at a Belgrade derby. It does not take long to find out, as I come face to face with the Serbian army, holding machine guns. I decide that maybe having a look at the away end wasn’t so important after all, and head back the way I came at a steady and not at all panicked pace.

IMAG0002No knives, but plenty of guns (Graffiti reads “Only pussies stab”)

The gates are already open, so  I go into the stadium early, mainly to get away from all the machine guns but also to get a sense of this historic ground before it was filled with 45,000 flare wielding lunatics. You are heavily searched (twice) for pyro and weapons when entering the stadium, but the fans had been prepared for this, with all the flares required brought into the ground the week before when security was light, hidden in secret spots until the big day.

Serbia is an extremely proud nation, with the memories of the war fresh in the mind. This was evident at the Marakana, with imagery of the war covering many of the walls both inside and outside of the stadium.

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I love the graffiti that decorates the walls of almost every stadium in Europe. It may not fit in with the squeaky clean image of Sky Sports’ beloved Premier League, but these images tell the story of the club better than any museum could. As well as being greeted by a range of fascinating art when entering the stadium, there were also members of ‘Delije’, the name given to Red Star’s leading fan group handing out leaflets. Of course I had no idea what it said, but the large Red Star flags taped to every seat in the North Stand gave me a pretty good idea about what I was required to do. It was also at this stage that I noticed the fire brigade, with each end of the stadium allocated a number of firemen. They would be busy.

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Despite the fact that there were over two hours until kick off there were plenty of fans inside the North and South stands, the two ends of the ground traditionally occupied by the hardcore supporters of both sides, with the remaining stands officially ‘neutral’. I normally hate being inside a stadium too early, but on this occasion I was glad I was, because I was about to witness the most unbelievable thing I have ever seen inside a football stadium. Writing this report two days later, I still can’t really believe what was about to go down.

A gasp goes up from the Red Star fans, followed by a roar and fingers pointed to the sky. I follow their looks of amazement and notice a number of Red Star supporters parachuting into the stadium.

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These instant Delije heroes land on the pitch, face the home supporters and raise a clenched fist. The North Stand salutes the airborne visitors, but the Partizan fans are not as pleased to see them. From where I was standing it appeared that the parachuting Red Star fans had begun to hurl flares into the away end, but I was later able to piece together that members of Partizan group ‘Grobari’ (Gravediggers) had surged onto the pitch in an attempt to steal and set fire to one of the flags that the Red Star fans had displayed during their descent. Trouble (literally) flares on the pitch, as the heavily armoured police battle with the Grobari, forcing them back off the pitch but not removing them from the stadium. The flares which were thrown at Red Star are returned into the away end, while the North Stand reacts with fury. Passion turns into hatred, and things were only just getting started.

IMAG0731Fights and flares on the pitch, with kick off still hours away!

As kick off moved closer and closer, I realised that the section I had chosen to stand in belonged to Red Star hardcore, and made the tactical decision to move over a block. This gave me the perfect view of the next moment of madness that would occur in the away end, as Partizan proved themselves to be perhaps the craziest club in Europe, if not the world.

I had been baffled by the fact that Partizan had two away ends, with a section of fans kept away from the main block of supporters. I had initially thought that extra tickets had been released in this section late on, but it was at this stage I remembered reading about a feud between differing groups of Partizan fans, linked both to control of the Ultras scene and organised crime. Unbelievably, the two sections of Partizan fans begin to attack each other, hurling flares back and forth and attempting to break through the masses of segregation and police to get to one another. Here they are at one of the fiercest derby matches in existence, and they are hell-bent of setting fire to their own fans. If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I would not have believed it.

This goes on for several minutes before the away end is finally able to make peace with one another long enough to direct their hatred at Red Star, who were really ramping up the noise as kick-off approached. The North Stand sings about how their team will take away Partizan’s title this season (Partizan have won the league six years in a row), as well as a chant which described Red Star as the team supported by Serbian’s, with Partizan fans coming from outside of the country. It was not a racist chant, Red Star’s support is incredibly diverse, but was merely an expression of Serbian pride, something which you can’t miss anywhere you go. I have been to places all over the world, but nowhere is prouder of who they are than Serbia.

Just when I thought things could not get any crazier, a football match broke out. The players emerge from the tunnel, and are greeted by the most impressive thing I have ever seen inside a sporting arena. Those flags I mentioned from earlier are waved in unison by thousands of people, huge banners are held up and a seemingly endless supply of pyro is ignited. This was not like England where one smokebomb fizzles for thirty seconds while the media loses their mind, this was an incredibly organised and hugely impressive pyro show. I could have happily gone home at this point and called the Belgrade derby the best football experience of my life, but the 90 minutes on the field remained.

I was totally caught up in the atmosphere, carried away on a tide of Red Star passion. I have no real ties to either club, but at this moment I hated Partizan. I wanted Red Star to win more than anything else in the world, roaring on the players as they took their places and the game began. I couldn’t even say “hello” in Serbian, but I belted out anthem after anthem to the best of my ability, lost in the moment and the passion which accompanies the Belgrade derby. It was not until several minutes into the game that I was able to take a breath and remember that I was here as a neutral to observe the atmosphere and watch a fixture I have always wanted to see. Of course I didn’t hate Partizan, but football can be  powerful thing – and this was the most powerful experience  I had ever been lucky enough to be a part of.

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The singing is constant from both ends of the stadium, a noise quite unlike anything you have ever heard. A Red Star capo (fan leader for those unfamiliar with the term) takes the microphone and quietens the crowd. He signals for the supporters to link arms, which they do so. The heavily tattooed man to my left grabs me, and I grab the person to my right. On his signal, the North Stand bounces as one.

Seats shatter, concrete comes loose and the entire stadium sways. It feels as though the force of the bouncing Red Star supporters will demolish the stadium, but of course, they have been doing this for decades. It continues for several minutes, until the old ground can take no more, the bouncing stops and the next chant begins. If I had thought that had been exhilarating, nothing could prepare me for what would happen next.

Red Star break into the box, forcing a fine save from the Partizan keeper. The ball goes up into the air, and is headed back across goal. It looks destined to land on the head of a Red Star attacker and be turned into the net, but a Partizan defender gets to the ball first. He desperately attempts to turn the ball wide, but all he can do is put it into his net. Own goal. 1 – 0 Red Star.

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The noise. Oh, the noise. It’s difficult to describe how it feels to be in the middle of a Belgrade derby goal celebration. You are blinded by the lights of a hundred flares, strangers flying out the thick smoke like ghosts. I must have been jumped on by an entire row of people, the celebrations going on long after the game had restarted. Flares rained down on the pitch, streamers flying through the air and the stadium once again bouncing, this time with the added emotion of leading the derby. The next 20 minutes seem to pass by in a dream, with not much happening on the field, but wonderful things happening off of it. Not even the Sudtribune at Borussia Dortmund can match Red Star for the sheer range of songs. Most clubs seem to have six or seven chants, but Delije have hundreds. Every minute of the game was different, and every minute was breathless and brilliant.

Half time arrives with the scores the same, with the players careful to walk off together. The reason for this became evident as one Partizan straggler reached the tunnel alone. He is pelted with firecrackers as he runs for the safety for the changing rooms, with the police forming a shield for him to duck underneath on the longest half time walk he will ever take. These firecrackers would explode throughout the match, with a noise you never get used to. It is not long since Serbia was at war, and make no mistake that being in Belgrade for the derby feels like you are stepping inside a war zone. This would be proved further still in the second half, with images that would go around the world, and caused my Twitter account to be flooded with messages asking if I was dead. The truth is, I’d never felt more alive than I did on this barmy night in Belgrade.

Ten minutes into the second half, Partizan fans lose patience with their under-performing side. The away end descends into a sea of fire, which I assumed was a response to Red Star’s earlier pyro show. I was wrong, this was not a show of support, but a full-blown riot.

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Once the flares have died out in one away section, they are ignited in the second. But, as you will notice from the image below, one flare had not stopped burning. Because this wasn’t a flare, but a section of the away end set on fire.

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This fire had a chain reaction, and before long Partizan were destroying the away end, filling the air with smoke and delaying the game. To be honest, I was sure the match would be abandoned. How could it possibly continue with the scenes of carnage in the away end? Failing to evacuate the ground would surely result in deaths, and I would have travelled across Europe to see an abandonment. But this is Serbia, and the usual rules do not apply here. As the flames reached higher and higher, the referee signalled for play to continue.

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I have never seen anything like it. I probably never will again.

Finally, the flames are quenched by the fire brigade, turning giant hoses on the away end, all the while being taunted by the Grobari, the shadows of their dancing figures reflected against the flames like demons. Galatasaray proudly display a ‘Welcome to Hell’ banner at their games, but how can anything compare to this? If there is a more insane set of fans in world football than Partizan Belgrade then well, I certainly haven’t seen them.

I thought about what would happen if they scored an equaliser. What would happen if they didn’t? In the dying moments of the game, I almost had my answer to the first question. Red Star were already singing their songs of victory, when a Partizan player broke free in the box. Silence falls on Marakana for the first time in what felt like days. 45,000 people hold their breath, the forward shoots hard and low to the right of the goalkeeper. It’s surely flying in. Somehow, the man in net for Red Star is able to block it, turning it away for a corner.

The North Stand erupts. The keeper runs behind his goal, screaming like a warrior who has just slain a rival king. He beats his chest, pumps his fist and waves his arms to the Delije. Fireworks explode above him, as his stop is celebrated like a goal. It is no surprise that the corner comes to nothing, the mayhem inside the Marakana following this save could turn back a tidal wave, never mind a football.

There is still time for one more chance for Partizan to salvage a point, as a great pass looks certain to set free the striker once more. A Red Star defender knows his team will surely concede if he doesn’t act, and so he flies into the back of the Partizan player, chopping him to the ground to ensure he makes no further progress. He doesn’t even wait for the red card to be shown, heading to the tunnel and receiving a heroes welcome. One last chance and one last free kick. Everyone apart from the goalkeeper is up for it, but Red Star are able to get control of the ball, smashing it as far away down the pitch as possible.

The whistle blows.

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Joy all around me. Supporters leap around in the way they must have done in 1991 when Red Star became champions of Europe. They have moved to within one point of the top of the table, and more importantly, they have won the ‘Derbi’. Celebrations continue long after the game, as the players from both sides clash on the pitch. Punches seem to be thrown, players are shoved and the usual scenes which accompany the end of a derby. Once the handbags have finished, the team salutes the crowd as they make their way off the pitch, they are the heroes of the hour and tonight the city belongs to them.

There is a reason this fixture is called The Eternal Derby. Not only will the hatred between the pair last forever, but so will the memories that attending this game will create. I was awake for hours after the game, with more adrenaline than if I had played 90 minutes myself. The peak of my football life had been reached, and if it is never topped then it doesn’t matter, because I will never forget the day I went to Belgrade and lived to tell the tale of a football war.

This is Serbia. This is Red Star vs. Partizan. Welcome to Hellgrade.

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Posted on November 4, 2013, in General. Bookmark the permalink. 114 Comments.

  1. You are crazy man

  2. Amazing atmosphere, loved the fires in the Partizan stand.
    Cheers,
    Micky

  3. That is wild. You’ve got some balls going in there. Some of my friends got chased out of inter ac Derby

  4. Belgrade derby is something you’ll never understand, all of you who are not Serbians. For all other rivalries there is something that separate two clubs and fans – religion, part of the city, or something else…but not for Red Star and Partizan. There is absolutely nothing that separate those clubs and fans, except one – color of their team. Believe or not, two stadiums are just 200 meters away from each other, fans of two teams are mixed up all around Belgrade, there is no part of Belgrade that belongs to one or another. As I said, there is nothing that separate those fans and yet rivalry is the biggest in the world. You’ll never understand that. Today we are the craziest enemies, tomorrow we go together to school and continue as nothing happened. That is Belgrade derby

  5. Welcome to Serbia 🙂

    • I ve travelled the world but Serbia… Nothing compares to Serbia. Serbs are the most hospitable nation on face of the earth!!!

  6. casablanca bro

    This is the best one of best derby’s on world for more information about Balkan fans wisit this facebook page.https://sr-rs.facebook.com/pages/Balkan-Ultras/307749779261874
    Those are one of best fans on world only who can compare with them are Argentinan’s

  7. its regular derbi ,,i dont get with what are u folks impressed by?

  8. Why would anyone go on red star stand???

    • AFK STARA SKOLA

      Because you on the south are real indians!!

      However, game like every game between Red Star and Partizan! I liked atmosphere on England stadiums 25 years ago, but now, boring…. you eat pop-corn, but this indians (Gravediggers) bring ears of corn and make pop-corn, that is much interesting to watch, hahahah 😀
      RED STAR FOREVER!!!

      • HAHAHA, at least we do not call our selfs GYPSES,and TURKISH WORD–DELIJE_ what realy means TURKISH HORSE MAN!!

        Rather an indian than TURKISH GYPSIE HORSE MAN!!

        DZABA VAM TRUD,UZALUD SVE!!

      • ovo je Srbija bre

        indija ,pakistan svima nama kurac pusi partizan .

  9. Wow i was like 5 times on this derby and i need to say i had sometimes the feeling i will just fall of and be in a coma.

    But its like this:
    The Delije supporters honestly are better i mean the Grobari made this fire with they’re own flags.

    The Delije have a larger story then Grobari with Arkan and and and…
    But this is something you need to feel and its any Euro worth to go watch it.

    • Have you any idea who Arkan? You probably know him as krimunalca. And you know that he was the secret police service set up to maintain order for the former president Slobodan Milosevic? The only thing better is the Gypsies marketing and only marketing! OZNA, secret police, DB, BIA … Communist Political Marketing!
      We currently have too many problems between our selfs and the police, and especially the management of a football club!
      Greetings from Belgrade

    • I don’t know why do you want to lie strangers. Gravediggers are first organised hooligans on Balkan. Delije made first hooligan action in 1987, ten years after Grobari, and their hooligans were way below Grobari in every single meaning.


  10. WE RULE THE WORLD


  11. Baksetball game vs Panathinaikos

  12. One more information ….our derby is not only at football matches, we have handball, Water polo, basketball, volleyball(and women’s volleyball) and many other sport categories….




    • Thanks for the videos! I tried to get a ticket for the basketball on Friday but sadly it was sold out, atmosphere looked great. Can’t wait to come back to Belgrade.

  13. Now I support Sporting

    Here is the full report from south http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYWVuz2zBbM

  14. Good summary of the game. 🙂 There has been many memorable moments at the Marakana but for sure the roar from the fully packed stadium when we scored the second goal in the 90th min vs. Bayern Munich in the Champions Cup semifinal in 1991 that took us to the finals in Bari against Marseille which we also won on penalties:
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OjFndSj4Wu8

    Here is the atmosphere at the start of the game:
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7gpfHmyHsIE
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gpJ_L0Q18Kc

    Here are some bonus videos 🙂
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=l05tutJiDlM
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vGQRg88nCqg

  15. racist english, typical…

  16. you dickhead it says only pussies stab, not no knives plenty of guns

  17. great read!

  18. Its funny to see how many serbs that support both clubs have read this great article and continue to wage war on one another as if the derby was still at play. I think people will start realizing after reading this article that this is the greatest “Derbi” the world has or will ever see…

    • I have been to lots of games around the world (check back through my other reports), and this derby has by far the most passion, hatred and atmosphere of any. It’s a fixture that everyone should see!

  19. LOL,nice post!The basketball derby used to be ten times better then soccer one!But because of many fights between the two groups in a much smaller basketball stadium,the police and clubs decided to play basketball derby without away fans and that lasts for last couple of years!I think some small amount of away fans are lately being alowed in,some 200 or 300 of them!It used to be half half,and that was something best i vitnesed in my life,and i saw many many games like this derby you were on!
    Any way,you realy should come an see Partizan basketball game in the Euroleague,this friday we play Fenerbahce,the turks,there will be some great atmosphere and nationalistic anti turks chantings!
    If you visit a Partizan basketball game in the Euroleague,you will forget all of the past games you visited,and this derby too!
    Greetings from a Grobar from Belgrade!

    P.S. Grobari are first organised hooligan group in the Balkans,it started in 1970 copying the English fans who were at that time famous for riots!
    Today we are worst then our teachers,LOL!
    Greetings once again!

    • I’m going to come back next year for the return match to see what Partizan is like at home! I would love to go and see basketball in Serbia, I tried to go to the game when I was over for the derby, but it was sold out because of the small arena. The Grobari are definitely the craziest and most insane set of fans I have seen anywhere in the world!

    • Не бих да спомињем њих али само ћу ти рећи да су они као основани 1950 године, па ти заврши сам мисао… За баскет си у праву, али ај оладите мало с тим, већ више смарате са причом о навијању на баскету, ко папагаји, без увреде икакве. Поздрав и видимо се на следећем дербију, или ако оћеш на пиво негде па да попричамо ко људи о навијању онако опуштено…

    • red star forever!

      stop nudging the man. only pussies watch basketball!

  20. This is how it looks like when Partizan loses a basketball game!This one is against Panatanaikos,we lost but Grobari sing a song that we sing when we lose!

    “”And when you’re not the first ones, and when you hear the boos, and then I, Partizan know that I love you”” rough translation

    This song got famous when Partizan lost in old Yugoslavia from Hajduk Split 6 to 1, some 30 years ago,the whole stadium was singing this song for hours!The tradition continued to these day!Check the video out,its something best i ever seen in my life,and i always get tears in my eyes while watching it.
    Dont miss the basketball game in Serbia,its a must have expiriance!!

  21. Thank’s Ben for beautiful article.
    Politicians and liberals here are hard at work to destroy this derby.
    Fans in Serbia are excellent excuse for not running country properly
    Sure passion is in the air,but once on stadium ,you are pretty safe.
    Hopefully alc and zabranjeni are gonna stop fighting each other because this fight attracts a lot of attention

    • You made a great point about witch hunt on soccer fans and nationalists!They act like this is something new and never happend before,but realy they use this to mask their corrupt ways!The news papers are writing about this every day now,its constantly on tv ,while trough the back door they legalise GMO food,bring in JEWISH banksters to rape the country with usury and interest!
      Serbian politicians are most corrupt traitors world has ever seen!Our ZIONIST OCCUPIED GOVERNMENT are the lovest peaces of scum anyone can imagine!
      With no answer to corruption,Kosovo problem and total sell out to the JEWISH BANKSTERS they start a WITCH HUNT ,hunting Serbian NATIONALISTS who are fed up of JEWISH OCCUPATION!
      They are in fear cause they see that European nationalists are on the rise,waking up and uniting against the ZOG,multi kulti mass immigration politics!!One is sure,at the end these corrupt ZOG polticians will lose and will be judged by the people!Untill then we will fight and survive!

      • Hey Ben Dudley,

        Just so you know, the above is the sort of person you’ve just written a big blog glorifying. Being at a game in Serbia is definitely different to anywhere else, particularly England these days, but don’t assume that just because something is exciting it is necessarily good.

      • red star forever!

        your little club is a zionist project, oh the irony…

  22. ImSerbianNotEuropean

    Nothing more, nothing less than ordinary derby. It was your first time. After few games it will be normal thing for you to. Next time you should go on south stand and watch our red show. This one you won, next one you’ll lose. Red Star is life, anything else is trifle.

  23. ovo je Srbija bre

    This what you said is not thru .
    The area around the ground is already packed, with thousands of fans and just as many riot police, many of them carrying guns. Despite the risk of getting repeatedly shot in the face.ANSWER: Every policeman in Serbia caring a pistol that’s by the low and no army this is police unit called Gendarme caring also only guns. I have been on more than 20 Crvena Zvezda-Partizan matches and never seen or heard from somebody that some of the fun are armed with pistol’s .Second thing about the picture with knives where you say no No knives, but plenty of guns it say Only pussy’s stab’s !!! Само пичке боду !

  24. The game made it on the 1. place of this week Ultras World

  25. Against modern football! Long live Belgrade derby!
    Thanks for a great article.

  26. Glad you enjoyed the derby, I did so twice as well after seeing Rhyl play Partizan in Champions League. Always tickles me how the sides see red/white and crno beli mixing ok but those at the ends are just nuts. Make sure you go to the return!

  27. The war was fucking nearly 25 years ago you idiot, seriously every journalist doing a piece about Serbia mention the war as though the country is still on its knees with its infrastructure shattered. Wise up!

    • Sorry you feel that way. You have to admit though, this fixture IS like a war. That is the only way I meant it. I loved Serbia in general, a very modern and enjoyable country to visit.

  28. nice job man

  29. Ben,

    It was a nice ride reading about your Belgrade Derby experience, especially coupled with the fact that I was there firsthand!

    I’ve been a regular for the past 5 years and must say that it never gets a tiny bit dull or boring; it is ALWAYS one tense, mesmerising and unpredictable experience. A show like no other. Something between a wicked dream and a high-octane trip!

    The moment you touch Belgrade ground (my case is usually around noon on the day of the Derby), you can just feel the electric currents running through your body; all the senses become acutely aware of the energy compounded by the day’s atmosphere and everything leading up to the big match.

    This derby was no exception. The binge drinking prior to match time is a story so preplexing that it needs the help of scientists to figure it out! With all the adrenaline pumping through your veins, it seems as though you could drink a keg all to yourself, but usually end up drinking ONLY half of one!;)

    The real story begins when you enter the Marakana grounds (in my case the NORTH STAND, where 13000 strong become ONE) and feel the sheer grandeur of the stadium and the energy it encapsules. It is like no other single experience in this world – a microcosm of Serbian history, identity and overall existence. Everything is there. You just have to feel it. And feel it you do when you step into THE HOLE!

    Congrats on a great piece. I have to say it is the best English review of the Derby I’ve read so far. If you’re coming in on April 26th for the return, It’d be great to chug a beer with you.

    Cheers!

  30. Congratulations Ben!
    Nice and truthfull article.
    Beautiful presentation of Belgrade Derby.
    Also, correct perception of Sebian people, even more congratulations on that – something that you will rarely encounter nowdays, it is obvious that you travelled much.

    Come again!

  31. Great job, Ben!
    The first time I went to the Derby was some 25 years ago, and over the years I loved to read the reports of foreigners and various comments about the Derby. This is most closely described Derby. And I read a lot of them.
    I may just add to all of this, I have 38 years and I still feel for the north stands the same thing I felt when I first stepped on it. (Zvezda – Osijek 6:1)
    Zhex
    Question for Grobari…
    What Partizan has, and Red Star will never have?
    Neighbor, the World and European champion!

  32. I love your article even thought I’m not zvezda or partizan fan. However, graffiti outside the ground (specially this one https://supportersnotcustomers.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/imag0007.jpg ) have nothing to do with zvezda and their history. When I think twice they do, person on that graffiti (Draza Mihajlovic) was shot by Zvezda founder (Slobodan Penezic Krcun) after the WW II.

    Both sets of fans now claim to be Serbian Nationalists, however, they will never be able to escape from their history and they will never be seen as “Serbian” clubs.

    • Don´t confuse people about saying that Red Star and Partizan are not “Serbian” clubs without properly explaining it. Ben, what this guy says (probably an OFK Belgrade fan) has to do with the history of football in Serbia. Before WWII Belgrade had 2 major clubs, BSK Belgrade (nowadays OFK Beograd) and SK Jugoslavija (disbanded in 1945). Those were the two major clubs in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which was ruled basically by Serbia and its King. Then in 1945 communists took charge of Yugoslavia, and they disbanded the previus clubs as “monarchic” and “burgoise”, and created Partizan and Red Star. Partizan was the Yugoslav Army club, and Red Star the Ministry of Interior club. However, soon this was forgotten, and both clubs just replaced BSK and Jugoslavija as the country most popular ones. Both are obviously “Serbian”, although OFK fans (which claim heritage from old BSK) claim they are “more Serbian” because they played during royal period. Regarding another silly dscussion about “more Serbian” being Partizan or Red Star, well, Partizan was known for having also many non-Serb supporters troughout the region, mostly because they were the Yugoslav Army club, and because they used to have all best non-Serb players from the region. However, Red Star also had many Croats, Bosnian, Slovene, Macedonian players and they also are popular troughout former Yugoslavia, so it´s just another silly dispute… Just to let everyone foreign know, as many local supporters missinform foreigners about the other team being less Serb, but both are Serb, its just silly rivalry.

  33. Enjoyed your write up on this game, the atmosphere looks unreal! I went to the eternal derby back in 2011 at Partizan, but unfortunately the Delije boycotted the game so the atmosphere wasn’t quite as good as I was hoping it would be!! I wrote a blog on that experience if your interested: http://lookatthesescenes.com/2013/04/22/the-eternal-derby-boycott/

  34. Great coverage of an amazing happening, especially of an neutral ” tourist” like you are.
    thumbs up !!!

    But never forget that the theese two banks crushed a brutal regime back in 2000 when all belgrade was burning like that stadium.

    In GB & “free” Europe they silenced u for ever controlling u by cameras all over the stadium & the city, where u are affraid to fart.

    Zivela Zveda

  35. Ben,
    Nice article, glad that you liked the game, the city and the people in Serbia!
    Come again!

  36. Great job man 🙂
    Come again 🙂
    Pionir arena, any Partizan game 😉 even better

  37. As soon as I discovered this website I went on reddit to share some of the enjoy with them.

  38. Great reviewes Ben, our rivaltet is one of the strongest in the world(Boca-River, Pao-Olimp, Fener-Galata) in this level tensions!! But Grobari is have problems, its separation on two side, south and east. Spend too much energy on his conflicts. I hope it will unite the South and raise as before. Za Jug bez podele, brat za brata!!

  39. Next time when you are in Belgrade visit basketball game of Zvezda or Partizan, you wont regret.

  40. On this derby cavemen known as “grobari” or “pakistanis” have discovered fire in 21-st century

  41. Vladimir Zirikovic

    For BelgradeOwl – it’s not Dragoljub Mihailovic mural, it’s Dragoslav Racic, chetnik commander of the units of the other side of Drina river

  42. First of all, I am very suprised with how many emotions you have written this text. I am a Red Star fan, from Serbia, and I went to these games against Partizan. While I was reading this text, I relived the emotions I feel during the game. I’m very glad you felt that way, and probably still feel. 🙂
    Congrats and best of luck mate! And come back to Serbia in the future. 🙂

    PS: A small “present”, a video of the song you described. It’s called: “On winter, rain, sun, snow or strong winds…” 🙂

  43. You saw army at stadium? With machine guns? You were afraid of getting repeatedly shot in the face? Never happened.
    On the pictures above are “zandarmerija” and they are special police force, not an army. Dont spread such lies, friend, there is no army at football matches in Serbia. NEVER.
    And I heard there was some shooting on football match once. Once in my lifetime, and I think it was the game between Liverpool and Juventus.
    Murals all over the stadium with imagery of the war? Give me a picture of another one, I am duying to see it. And this mural is about WWII, just to be clear.
    Maybe you were watching “Green Street Hooligans” or something similliar just before game, but this is not England. We have no parts of the city that belongs to Red star or Partizan funs, and what happens at stadium, stays at stadium. And they dont beat each other to death or something like that: only tragedy of that kind happened once when some chinesse fire projectile hit one Red star supporter in chest. And that was a real tragedy to all.
    And for the end:
    I am a BIG Red star supporter, and I do hate Partizan: FC Partizan, not their fans. My girlfriend, my best friend (my future best man) and many friends of mine are Partizan supporters and only thing we do is poking each other.
    Next time You come to Belgrade, visit Eternal derby again, and this time go to the westside: it is not “Neutral” side, it is for R.S. and Partizans fans. All mixed up. Its much better view from there to both North and South stand, so You can realy enjoy with no mindless fear.

  44. I think that you should’ev meet with some fan/s before, to get you in to the story, and some things would have been much understandable to you and your readers. Really this wasn’t so special derby after all. You should know that Marakana, without seats could accept more than 100 000. And now, imagine war years 1991-5 with 100 000 supporters who have lived under the sanctions, and the Derby was one of the valves of masses back then… I told you, you should’ev hook up with some fan/s before, to let you in to the magic of the Derbi, anyone who intends to visit Derbi should. And to those who say you are crazy to go here, and should be happy to get out of here alive, i say, stop watching so much news for the imbeciles. We are proud, we are crazy, we couldn’t be understand from outside, but no one would do you any harm unless you ask for trouble, but i think this is the way on the most of the football Derbys throughout the world. And after all you would make some Serbian friends at the end.

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