90stalgia (part 2)

28 January 1990: a friendly match at Olympique Marseille. The pre-match picture shows something unfamiliar: a national team with a sponsor’s name across the front of their shirts. Stranger still, this is the national team of an Eastern Bloc country. Something is changing…

romania in marseille from prosport
Romania line up before the friendly with Marseille. [Source: prosport.ro]
Brief résumé: Romania have qualified for a World Cup for the first time since 1970, by beating Denmark. One of their best players has defected. Oh, and there’s been a revolution which has deposed the dictator after a 22-year reign, so the country is on the road to freedom, democracy, unregulated privatisation, rampant consumerism, etc.

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90stalgia (part 1)

These things elicit a certain reaction from me, which I cannot control: Chrissy Waddle’s mullet; Platty’s last-gasp volley against Belgium; the ball ballooning off Paul Parker’s back and over Shilton’s head into the net; and, especially, Gary Lineker gesturing to the bench to “have a word”. And if you spent a lifetime striving to compose a piece of music perfectly suited to soundtracking slow-motion footage of men in short shorts glowing with sweat on hot Italian evenings, fouling each other, diving extravagantly to get each other booked, and missing important penalties, you could not do better than the lad Puccini with his smash hit aria Nessun Dorma.

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Rapid rising

Stardate: Saturday 14th April 2018. Kick-off: 7.45pm.

Venue: Arena Naţionala, Bucharest.

Competition: Liga 4 (Bucharest).

Ticket price: 25 RON (£5) for row 2 in sector 111 of Tribuna II (the east stand).


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Academia Rapid fans and their heroes

“Rapid a înviat.”

“Rapid has risen.” So said striker Daniel Pancu, in a timely Easter reference, after Saturday’s game at the Arena Naţionala. Continue reading

Those were the days

The British football monthly When Saturday Comes runs a feature in the back, where they review a season from times gone by and track what has happened since then to selected teams and individuals. I thought it would be fun to do that for the Romanian league. Let’s see if I’m right. Cast your mind back to a time when the iPhone was brand new, Avril Lavigne was a superstar, and the USA had its stupidest ever president… up to that point… Continue reading

Clash of the… clash of the…

“Coming up this week: the giants of Charlton play host to the titans of Ipswich… making them both seem normal size.” …as David Mitchell says so portentously in this marvellous clip.

This Saturday – Rapid v Steaua – is a clash between giants and titans, two of the biggest clubs in the country facing off in (of all places) the fourth division, almost the bottom level of the senior football pyramid. The occasion permits us to pretend. Continue reading

This Sporting life

Fotbal Club FCSB v Sporting Clube de Portugal

Champions League play-off round, second leg.

Wednesday 23rd August 2017. 9.45pm.

Arena Nationala, Bucharest.

Ticket price: 40 lei (£8).

Weather: shorts and t-shirt.

As soon as I climb, wheezing slightly, to my seat, within spitting distance of the top of the upper tier, it is clear that this is to be a match whose intricate details will pass me by. For this spectator there will be no arbitration of niggling fouls, no psychological analysis of a coach in a technical area: even identifying identifiable players is likely to be troublesome. Coupled with my difficulties in tactical understanding, this could make for a frustrating evening: what exactly am I going to get out of this? Continue reading

Go fourth!

Expunge from your mind anything you’ve read which claims that the top tier is worth bothering with (even my more than adequate post from the other day). The division to watch this season is going to be Liga 4 București. Today the capital’s municipal football association (AMFB) announced the teams that will make up, at least on paper, the strongest line-up in any local football division since the national championship became a league in 1932. Continue reading

Emergency update!

Here is RomaniaBalls’ emergency ordinance, being pushed through at an unreasonable hour of Super Saturday morning. Gigi is the main story – as so often…

Yesterday FCSB owner Gigi Becali announced that he has combed the League’s full regulations for the competition, with a lawyer, and found that if his team and Viitorul finish level on points, then FCSB will in fact be champions! This claim runs counter to what the League have published on their own website, which states that if Viitorul win tonight they win the title no matter what. Who is right? Continue reading