Everyone has a to do list of sorts, not a paint the garden gate or dump shite at the skip type. Countries or cities that tickle their fancy, bands they would like to see, retire early, skydive, have kids, run a marathon or whatever. The content can be a complete miscellany of things. Whether it is written down or just in the brain most people have them to some extent. It doesn’t hurt to have things to aim for, it’s good to have goals for the future.
As I stand here quarantined in a hotel room in Luanda I realise I am no different. My view for the next fourteen days is of the Estádio dos Coqueiros. Home to Benfica de Luanda and Kabuscorp (where Brazilian legend Rivaldo strutted his elderly stuff once upon a time). Waking up and looking out at the modest sized ground got me thinking that I’d love to see one of the local teams, whether the aforementioned two clubs or big hitters Atlético Petróleos de Luanda, and 1 do Agosto, or even also rans Interclube, Sporting Clube or Progresso do Sambizanga . Any would be a great experience. There are many reasons I havent, travel times and safety being the main and in all honesty its really ruled out as a serious idea. I found as I was gazing across the city at the sight of fitbas being kicked at the stadium that my imprisoned mind and boredom had got my the better of me and my mind operating. In short it got me thinking there is a lot I would like to do before I die. A bucket list some would call it. Some of these are long standing, some are newish ideas, some are even accidental. But they are all doable and all on my radar.
Four things in life float my boat. I lead a very simple life made up of music, beer, jotting down my crap and of course fitba. There have been a myriad of things linked with the above I have wanted to do and as my life has gone on I have been lucky enough to carry out a good bit of it. I have seen pretty much all the bands I have wanted to (Van Halen still pending). I have been to grounds I always wanted to visit, such as San Siro, Ernst Happel and De Kuip. I always ensure I drink previously unsampled beers when obtainable, but how do you bucket list that? Thats more of a passion really. I have also taken to writing since 2014 after becoming involved in the worlds greatest fitba fanzine. Now for the past year I have started forcing my pish on people via this blog. I have never been one for bursting to head to certain destinations. I just go wherever and try not to repeat myself. The more of planet earth I get to gawk at before I vacate this Earth, the better my life will have panned out is my theory. It would take somewhere special to get me back. But my fourth element to life takes me about the place, so I suppose I am alot like others in that respect, there are places I want to visit but it’s for the roar of the crowd first and foremost, it’ the teams and stadia that take me there. All the sight seeing and culture is the collateral bonus that comes with being a fitba nerd.
Below is what i would like to do. It’s unsurprisingly all fitba. Will I pull it all off? There is no reason why not. I’m still young enough and daft enough. When the day comes that I shuffle off this mortal coil, if these sixteen items are ticked off, I’ll exit lifes proverbial stage right with a huge smile on my face. Just like Eddie van Halen and Dave Lee Roth did after wowing the crowds in the 80s night after night.
1-Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán
This place has been top of my list of grounds to go for a long time now. I always felt that Sunday nights watching Sevilla on Sky always seemed to be worth taking on. The atmosphere never failed to be electric and the team was usually exciting to watch. This is what pricked my interest. Since then I have spoken to people who have been. People who were at Spain ’82 and bagged tickets for Brazil v the Soviet Union, Spurs fans who went in the Champions League and I even met Sevilla fans while at Excelsior in Rotterdam. Funnily enough I have never spoken to any of the eight million celtic fans that were there. The general consensus from all is…….. It’s ace, steep and atmospheric. That sells it to me. That and the fact it has been voted one of the best grounds in Europe to watch a match on numerous occasions. Funnily enough with Sevilla currently doing well in the Europa
this last season, my old boy and me have had a conversation in regards to going one day as its a city he would love to see. My folks and Wee Man. I may just do that. I am not to sure my ma would fancy a Sevilla game though. She can stay home and drink wine.
2- Visit All Scottish Junior Cup Winning Sides Since 1984
I was born in ’84 and I intend to go to every team to have won the Scottish Cup in my life. Eighteen have done it, with Auchinleck Talbot almost monopolising the trophy in my days. I actually am not far off this being completed with only Renfrew, Glenafton Athletic, Arthurlie and Kilwinning r*****s to go. There have been some great trips so far with Shotts Bon Accord, Pollok, Cumnock, Whitburn and Largs Thistle all being cracking days out. It’s a shame this great trophies future is bleak.
A name I have known for most of my life are the South American heavyweights. The third most successful team still in existence. Their 108 trophies is some feat (unfortunatley bettered by fierce rivals Nacional by five). Wanting to visit stems from childhood as I remember as a nipper watching old Libertadores games on Eurosport and on the foreign channels even further back in the old Sky days. Since then I have read enough to know I definitely fancy a trip to Montevideo to see the Aurinegros. One of the most famous old names of world fitba.
4- Visit a Foreign Team For Every Letter of The Alphabet
Another I am not too far off finishing. I did not set out to do this intentionally. I just realised one day that I was racking up the letters and I was left with a hand full or so. I, J, K, O, Q, X, Z are the current offenders. I have plans for a couple. X could tie in with Sevilla potentially with a trip to Xerez and Z is absolutely going to be željezničar in Bosnia. K could also nail Belgium(Kortrijk) where I am yet to ever set foot too. Chips, beer and chocolate. If I may. The rest however are open. This challenge will be on hiatus somewhat for now as the current state of the world prevents it unfortunatley.
5-Bursa Büyükşehir Belediye Stadyumu
I always wanted to go to Galatasaray but the Ali Sami Yen bit the dust ruining the old history of the intimating “welcome to hell” for me. Then a crocodile was built. Need I say more. Bursaspor it is.
6- World Cup
I just want to experience the carnival atmosphere and get tickets for random matches like Saudi Arabia v Ivory Coast or Mexico v Sweden. Not really fussed where it is except Qatar as that is bent corrupt bullshit. Mexico 2026 I wouldnt rule out.
7-Estádio Municipal de Braga
This is for the ground rather than the club. The Pritzker Architecture Prize winning stadium built in a quary is one of the coolest places I have seen. Being there must be even better on the eye in person than on the box. It’s also handy for being tied in with another match near by. Porto, Boavista, Victoria Guimaraes, Gil Vicente, Rio Ave and many more. A fitba weekends not a proper weekend without multiple games.
8- Complete the 42
Another task almost done. Four grounds to go. Almondvale which some how has eluded me. I was playing on a Saturday during most of Livis previous Premier years which explains it a bit. Hamiltons New Douglas Park. To be honest I have no excuses for not visiting. Palmerston is on my list for this season and would be a weekend away with Wee Man this leaving the fourth Stair Park. Corona put a visit last season to the sword as I was all booked up for a clash with Dumbarton and a day on the razz with a Sons supporting pal. Hopefully all four are conquered come May.
9- Al Ahly
I did alot of work in an old job in the Western Desert in Egypt. I met some great people and they were all mad for football. Especially mad for Al Ahly. I was there when the sickening scenes of Port Said unfolded. That night that allegedly stemmed from the earlier revolution in the country was horrific and put an incredible sombre atmosphere on the site I was working . Over many visits I made friends through fitba(no I don’t have a big team. Aberdeen and thats it) I was impressed with the videos and photos I was shown. I was even impressed with the team as I watched a few games on the TV. From there I went on to read into the club and their fans. Al Ahly are the most successful team still functioning on earth ahead of Nacional and Penarol with 118 trophies in the bag. They are not called the Club of the Century for nothing. This is another one like Sevilla that’s at the upper end of the list.
10-Visit The Oldest Teams In Each League Set Up In UK and Ireland
Currently two shy. With the City Ground ticked off I have done England. Since Notts County were relegated in 2019 neighbours Nottingham Forest(1865) have took the title of oldest league club from their neighbours. Northern Irelands Cliftonville (1879) were visited around this time last year for a Europa League qualifier v Barry Town. In Scotland I have attended a Queens Park (1867) game v Alloa in the past and will visit again when they move into Lesser Hampden. This leaving Wales’ Cefn Druids (1872) and ROIs Athlone Town (1887)
11- Stadio Luigi Ferraris
Corona struck last season preventing me crossing this off. A two match trip ruined by this strain of Sars. The Turin derby was to be viewed on the Saturday(J scratched off in the letter challenge) then the Sunday would have found us in Genoa. The reason the stadium is on the list is Football Italia. I used to love seeing Sampdorias tifos, the towers in the corners and hearing the atmosphere was always good too. It’s another childhood thing. (They were also my brothers Italian team) I would prefer a Sampdoria game over Genoa if I am honest but I wouldn’t complain either way. Since our trip was ruined (v SPAL) I might try and make up for it by seeing if the derby is a possibility.
12- Tour Of Finnish Fitba
Wee Man and myself were booked for our summer hiday this year. You guessed it, corona killed it off. Three teams were to be visited in the top flight HJK, Ilves, TPS then lower league SexyPöxyt. Yes this was due to their wonderful name (Sexy Pants in English). Wee Man asks all the time, “when we going to Finland? “, “when the bugs are away are we going to Finland?”, “is there an aquarium in Finland” . I can’t let him down. It’s postponed for now, not cancelled.
13- Create a Fanzine
2014, I started getting involved with The Red Final and I have really enjoyed it as it gave me a vehicle to get rants and stories out. I found writing as enjoyable as reading the greatest cult institution in Scottish fitba which I did for years prior to joining the ranks. Recently though I have had the idea of making an all round fitba fanzine, Scottish that is. In an old style paper format. There is still a market for it, maybe not as much as days gone by but there is. There are also alot of people who out there who would could articulate their grumbles down. Random views from random fans of an array of clubs. It’s doable definitely, would it sell, maybe, it would be worth the gamble in the age where the podcast is on the up and are the new fanzines. Not everyone has access to podcasts. Even if I got one out there it would be a success. I would however be looking for more. A gamble I’m willing to take.
14-A Week in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires and the greater area is loaded with fitba teams. There are so many. You have the big hitters, River Plate and Boca Juniors but there also a further multitude of teams in the top flight, second tier and beyond. But whats appealing is you can pretty much get a game any night of the week. What you could do in a week would be awesome and there would a good few scarves added to the collection over seven days. I could also live off steak and Quilmes too . A 40th celebration. It’s a possibility that’s for sure. Better start wishing the next four years away if it is for the big 4-0.
15- Take Wee Man to Every HFL Ground
This is a project in motion. The Wee dude has Buckie Thistle, Inverurie Locos, Huntly, Forres Mechanics and Rothes under his belt. It is the best league in the world. Everyone should do the tour. This is also an excuse for me to do it again too. But he loves it and does not take much coaxing.
16-Write a Book
I have tens of thousands of words written. I have hundreds of stories. It’s a life ambition. Simple as that. May be better waiting untill this list is complete and add a few more tales and masses more words. One day it will happen.
(Oh and 17, see Van Halen, but that does not fit this narrative)