Skopje FK Vardar vs Skendija 79 – Macedonian First League
My quest to visit random football matches throughout the world continued as the Macedonian First League kicked off during our time in the country. My time in Skopje would see FK Vardar, the most successful Macedonian side since independence from Yugoslavia, playing Skendija 79 on a Sunday night at the 32,000 seater, Phillip II Arena.
My experience didn’t start so well, as while I was waiting outside to purchase my ticket, it was soon very obvious that the one ticket booth in operation would not be able to handle the building crowd. As temperatures and voices started to rise, suddenly people scattered and a few punches were thrown.
Thankfully that was the only sign of trouble because as soon the riot police appeared, everyone went back to queuing for the tickets and acting like nothing had happened. Not long after, another ticket booth opened and things started to move. The ticket cost 100 MKD, or around $3 – a real bargain!
It was a great stadium and designed perfectly for the FK Vardar ultras, known as The Komiti. Located behind one of the goals, the Komiti made a lot of noise and kept the atmosphere up for the entire 90 minutes. The acoustics of the stadium made it sound like the venue was packed.
Sadly, as the pictures show, even at 100 MKD a ticket – the majority of the seats were empty.
The game itself was entertaining, but pretty much over by half-time as FK Vardar had taken a comfortable 2-0 lead.
It came as no shock when midway through the second half, a third FK Vardar goal wrapped up the game. A result that would put them top of the league, with two wins from their opening two games.
Before the third goal, the action had moved from the pitch to the stands, as out of nowhere a large group of Skendija fans appeared and made it known they were in the stadium. This not only got the attention of the home support, but also the quick-thinking riot police, who soon appeared and took control of a situation that could’ve turned ugly. I was sitting in the block between each groups of supporters, so I was more than happy when the riot police got involved.
My first experience of football in this part of the world certainly lived up to my expectations. The game was pretty decent and you can’t complain when you pay 100 MKD and get 3 goals! The Komiti sung for the full 90 minutes – and even had banner changes at half time.
Leaving the ground under the cover of darkness, any fears of possible trouble on the way home vanished when I saw the number of police in and around the stadium. I would have taken a photo to share, but these guys didn’t look willing to pose for the camera.
Next stop we’re off to one of the newest countries in the world – Kosovo!