Ground: Gradski Stadion (Stadion pod Goricom)
Date: 15th November 2014
Match: Montenegro - Sweden 1-1 (Euro 2016 qualifier)
Attendance: 10 538
The trips I enjoy the most are Sweden away matches. Visiting countries far away while supporting(/representing!) my country is a special feeling. In this qualifying campaign two away matches, vs Russia and Montenegro, are being played on Saturdays. Since I haven´t been to Montenegro for football I was of course pleased I had the chance to go there with Sweden. The visit to Montenegro would be my 9th new country (17th in total) for football this year. It would also probably be my last match in 2014. There are no direct flights from Copenhagen to Podgorica and having to work on Friday I had to fly to Podgorica, via Belgrade, on Saturday. I don´t like having to change flights when I am flying on a matchday but this time I had no choice. At Copenhagen airport I met up with Örgryte supporter David, who I met in Lund earlier this year, and he had booked the same flights as me. The Air Serbia flight to Belgrade was 15 minutes late but with two hours between the flights we had no problems making the flight to Podgorica. The flight from Belgrade to Podgorica was a very short one, 35 minutes in the air, and 14.30 we landed in the Montenegrin capital.
Podgorica has a population of around 150 000 and the city has been the capital of Montenegro since 2006 when the country became independent. The name Podgorica means "under the Gorica" in Serbian language. Gorica (meaning "little hill") is the name of the cypress-covered hill that overlooks the city centre. From 1946 to 1992 the city was called Titograd in honour of Jozip Tito, the former President of Yugoslavia. My hotel was situated a 10-15 minute walk from the ground and from the airport it only took 15 minutes by taxi. Staying only one night I had booked a nice hotel but the price was still quite cheap. After checking in I made the short walk to the ground for some exterior pictures. For Sweden away matches you have to register and pick up the ticket in the city where the match is being played. In Podgorica the Swedish fans used Rimski square as base and it was at this square I had to go in order to get my ticket. The ticket was priced €5 which is very cheap for an international match. In total around 700 Swedish fans had travelled to Montenegro for this match. At Rimski square I had something to eat and drink before going back to my hotel for a short rest. To be fair there wasn´t much to see in Podgorica and being up at 5am I needed to take it easy before the match. At 19.15 (kick-off was 20.45) I was yet again at Gradski Stadion. The riot police were out at full force, standard procedure i some countries, but the police had a quiet evening.
Gradski Stadion has a capacity of 11 000 and is the home of FK Buducnost. The two end stands are two tiered with a capacity of 3 000 each. The covered main stand is the biggest stand while the small east stand only holds 1 000. There are plenty of space behind the east stand but I am not sure if there are any plans to extend it. My seat was in the front row of the upper tier of the south Stand (Tribina Jug). The view from there was excellent and since most people at these games stand up a seat further up would have meant the nearest goal being almost out of sight. I had heard about the hostile atmosphere at Gradski Stadion and the home fans were indeed very passionate. For most of the 90 minutes the atmosphere at Gradski Stadion was very good. The Montenegrin fans in the Tribina Sjever had prepared a tifo symbolizing Montenegrin canons sinking a Swedish Viking ship. This was accompanied with pyros and I have to say it was quite funny and ingenious. During the match some seats and a few bangers were thrown onto the pitch but there was never any troubles between the fans. Even the riot police seemed to like the Swedish fans and some of them even had their picture taken by Swedish fans. I doubt that happened when England played in Podgorica!
The actual match started with Sweden taking an early lead. Montenegro pressed on for an equalizer but still 0-1 at half-time. In the second half Montenegro dominated and created some really good chances. The equalising goal was scored in the 80th minute. It was from the penalty spot but from my position it looked like a really soft penalty. Sweden then started to attack again and in stoppage time Albin Ekdahl scored what most of us thought was the winning goal. It was ruled out for a (dubious) foul and the match finished 1-1. After the match we had to stay behind. The home fans in the other end stand protested against something and refused to leave the ground. After 15 minutes the authorities gave up and let the visiting fans from Sweden out. I said good-bye to David and around 11pm I was back at my hotel. On Sunday morning I could sleep late, my flight didn´t leave Podgorica until 15.20. As I was waiting at the airport I suddenly heard a familiar voice next to me. That was Lars-Åke Lagrell. From 1991 to 2012 he was chairman of the Swedish FA. Anyway, my journey back home went smoothly and shortly before 10pm I was back in Kristianstad. An interesting weekend came to an end.
Hram hristovog vaskrsenja (cathedral)
Camp Sweden - We stand up for Sweden
Tribina Zapad, rear
Tribina Zapad, entrance
Tribina Jug, rear
Tribina Sjever, entrance
Erik Hamrén being interviewed before the match.....
....and then applauding the fans
Riot police being friendly
Players entering the pitch
Home fans during national anthem
View of play
View of Gradski Stadion
After the match
After the match
After the match