Decided to go for a curry after midnight to kill time before catching the 02.54 train to Kharkiv. Would you believe it, curry house closed!
So in the end found somewhere else and dashed across town in time to get the train from Kiev. Successfully negotiated the antiquated locker system and caught that train.
The great thing about this journey around Poland and Ukraine is that there was no need to pay ridiculous prices for basic accommodation. So a bargain with a eight hour train journey and a night's accommodation for less than you would pay for a bed for one night. I didn't realise that it also included a free sauna! No windows opened, and a packed train with bunks to sleep on (notice I didn't call them bunk beds!)
Arriving in Kharkiv, the sauna experience helped us quickly to adjust to the 33 degree heat.
Accommodation was 14km out of town, but the 24 hour metro took us nearby in no time. Then 50 minutes of wandering around the "blocks" and we arrived.
Spent the afternoon in Shevchenko Park (where else?). Headed for the Metalist Stadium on the Metro to find the nearest station to the ground was closed. So a 10 minute walk through a landscape that hadn't changed much in the last 30 years, and we were at the stadium. Looking for somewhere to watch the early game, we weren't spoilt for choice and ended up in a small restaurant with a Russian who thought he owned the place.
His English was limited to naming players and the clubs they played for. Hence, da, da, da. It would have been interesting to find out more about him, but I fear that the conversation would not have gone anywhere, especially as I couldn't tell him which clubs all the Russian players played for.
The ground has the nickname of "The Spider", due to the poles supporting the stadiums structure on the outside looking like spider's legs. I couldn't find confirmation, but I believe it is also homage to Queens Park, who are known as The Spiders due to their intricate passing moves in the 1870s. This is also the model that Barcelona copied to play their ticky tacky football that has been so successful for them.
During a quieter moment in the game the neutral supporters began to chant for their country - Roo-see-ya.
Germany deserved their victory and so far are the best team and best supporters seen.
© Ross Clegg & Soccerphile.com