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  1. Astra-nomical days in Romania People often refer to an extraordinary, yet fleeting occurrence as a JFK moment. When Inverness CT went in a bowl in Switzerland for the Europa League draw in June 2015, it was hardly a life changing event, but I will never forget where I was when the news filtered through from home as to who we had drawn, and where we were headed. I was sitting in a square in Salzburg having lunch as you do! European qualification had already been guaranteed before the Scottish Cup Final, a draw at Dundee clinched our historic third place. Will we ever see the likes ag
  2. This is a piece that has been penned with a view to publication in Scottish football periodical Nutmeg No.16 in the summer about my friend Fabian Yantorno. The mere mention of the word Uruguay in a footballing context might still send shivers down the spine of Scotland fans of a certain age. The scars following the clash between the two nations at the World Cup in 1986 in Mexico live long in the memory, as well as with those immortal words of the late, great Hugh McIlvanney “These Uruguayans are coming in with awfully high tackles Jock”. It was an understated analysis of the hardman Garra t
  3. I have had the pleasure of bringing more than a dozen towns, cities and regions of Italy to life for Football Weekends and only once from Serie A when newly promoted SPAL rumbled into the top flight. My world is more the characterful under card of Serie B, C and D, and writing a piece about Como has been high on my “must do list” for a long time, as it was on the banks of this beautiful lake where my love for Italy started way back in July 1982! I was on holiday with my parents in Como the night Italy beat West Germany in the Bernabeu, Madrid to be crowned World Cup winners for the first time
  4. I guess the Austro-Hungrian and Ottoman Empires both helped the displacement of people throughout the Eastern side of Europe in particular with Bosnia, Macedonia, Romania to name just three who have significant ethnic populations. I had certainly experienced morsels of such in Trieste, with its dual language status for Slovenian and Italian, but in Italy’s most Easterly outpost, it still felt distinctly Italian, with their language and the cuisine the dominant partner, albeit in a more Austrian feeling architectural setting. Rijecka, who played a European tie at Aberdeen at the start of the se
  5. I have rarely ventured to the famous parthenons of World football, although I have gradually ticked a number of them off, albeit on a tortoise timescale. Occasional big gigs have been drip fed onto my stadia CV over a forty plus year passage of time! The Azteca in Mexico City and Racing Club’s Il Cilindro in Avellaneda run the Centenario in Montevideo close as my favourite, but It took the first ever Kazakh club side to play in England to get me eager to head to Old Trafford to notch up only my fourth “big” English club stadium after Anfield, Hillsborough and St James Park. I guess it makes me
  6. Click to view slideshow. I am sure when you hear the name Monza in sporting chat, unless you are a Formula One guru, you’ll switch off! The town just slightly north of Milan is synonymous with the race car scene, so fire up the guitar solo from Fleetwood Mac’s, The Chain, but while Monza might be the home to the Italian Grand Prix, there is also a football team too, and they might just be on the cusp of the clubs grandest days! AC Monza are the football option in the town that have been up to this point, in various guises, solidly and reliably playing well under the radar to anyone outside It
  7. Click to view slideshow. As Henley the Scrounger said to the poorly sighted Colin the Forger, “twenty minutes over this ridge, next stop Switzerland” !! Buckle up, we are off to the land of clocks, chocolate, cheese and Calcio Swiss style! I am sure when readers are planning a trip there is always a desire to collect information on all available fixtures within a given travel distance of your chosen base ahead of making the finalised plan. It is always a little more of an allure if that plan includes a cross-border game! That was exactly my situation when contemplating the options for an earl
  8. To celebrate Football Weekends 50th edition next month, Jim the editor asked me to nominate three of my favourite “old school” stadiums there. Having been at 40 Italian grounds I am undoubtedly qualified to make such a call, and it was quite entertaining coming up with my choices, which I guess true to form are quite eclectic! This is a relatively short piece as it will be incorporated into a much larger Pan European article in the November edition of the magazine, but ahead of publication, here are my picks Click to view slideshow. Largely the Italian stadiums are either modern, similar in s
  9. Click to view slideshow. The first competitive home game of the season is always worthy of getting out the bunting, especially when the visitors are from relatively close by. This was the lure for my Italian friend Stefano from Ancona and I as it took us to Great Grimsby, or Cleethorpes if you want to get picky, as Grimsby Town play in the neighbours backyard so to speak! The town is prefixed by Great to distinguish itself from Little Grimsby a little further down the road, but as we were to discover it felt like an ironic title. The “by” at the end of any town or city in this country sign
  10. RENDALLS RAMBLES We have created a nostalgic look back at our first 25 years thanks to James Rendall, a fan from the start who has been sharing his love of this club with all. Were you at these games and what do you remember. I will add some comments from the site to the articles if they are relevant and will add to the enjoyment of the article. James also has his own world football blog of his travels and that can be found HERE. Certainly worth a read from our well travelled fan. I hope you all enjoy these articles which we will add a couple every week. The first three are publ
  11. Rendalls Rambles #9 The final two seasons from James in his wonderful nostalgic look at 25 years of Inverness Caledonian Thistle and more, from the first game at East Stirling to the last game at Tannadice in the play off semi-final. It's been some journey and the roller coaster that is following the Caley Jags will continue; for better or for worse. The Inverness Caledonian Thistle Years #ICT25 No.24 (Games 1,125 to 1,204) Old familiar: After the trauma of the previous season and the agony of the narrow margin which saw us relegated, it was good to see a sensibl
  12. Working on the assumption that Aberdeen nibble by Chikhura Sachkhere tomorrow night, this piece will be submitted to The Reds programme on Friday for use in the Europa League Third Round second leg versus Croatian visitors, HNK Rijeka, otherwise brown paper bags all round! Having been at three European games in Luxembourg, it would be great to enjoy more than one here! I am still gutted at being denied my first Partizan Beograd viewing. With HNK Rijeka having twice been an opponent in recent seasons, it is maybe from variety’s perspective a good thing that Fola Esch lost out to Chikhura, or i
  13. This is a relatively short piece I have put together for the Aberdeen match programme when they welcome Georgian side Chikhura Sachkhere on Thursday 1st August having already played the first leg in Georgia. For those who ventured out to Georgia for the first leg, I am hopeful that they will have returned full of tales as to just how wonderful Tbilisi is, as well as how friendly the Georgian people are too! Georgia is one of the best kept secrets of Europe, a truly diverse gem of a country, from the amazing beach resort of Batumi, through the mountainous beauty of Svaneti, Kakheti and Tusheti
  14. A skip through South West Luxembourg, the hotbed of Grand Duchy football, whilst enjoying a trio of European ties. Click to view slideshow. The day before the First Round of the European Draws were made in Switzerland for the 2019/20 season I decided that given the Edinburgh sides had let me down, I’d head overseas to catch a game. Perusal of the teams going into the hat brought Luxembourg to mind, as oddly the relatively small town of Esch-Sur- Alzette was providing two sides to the Europa League, so I reasoned one must surely be drawn home in the first leg. Having only been in the
  15. Rendalls Rambles#8 Another couple of seasons from James' remarkable lookback at our first 25 years in existence, and in his own words, the good, the bad and the ugly............ The Inverness Caledonian Thistle Years #ICT25 No.22 2015/16 (Games 993 to 1053) The Good, the Bad and the quite frankly ugly! Since I became interested in football on the other side of the seas surrounding this island it has been a longstanding dream of mine to watch my team play in Europe. At Meadowbank this was merely a pipe dream, and in 1994 who would have thought it could ever happen
  16. Click to view slideshow. If you have ever seen Roberto Benigni’s film, Life is Beautiful, the funny first half of the movie is set in Arezzo, a real gem of Southern Tuscany. It is a wonderful region of Italy, perhaps the most famous, and also the most visited in its entirety. Yes, Firenze and the Torre Pendiente in Pisa are the main attractions, but Siena, San Gimignano, Lucca as well as my destination for my last game of the season, Arezzo, they are all “classic” Tuscan towns. Three of the aforementioned towns were involved in the protracted, but increasingly popular 28 team Serie
  17. RENDALLS RAMBLES #7 And it's here in this threesome, the cup final season from James. He's been everywhere man! And he has been following the Caley Jags from the start. He has put together this fascinating nostalgic recap of Inverness Caledonian Thistle's first 25 years and more, as witnessed through his own eyes. Thanks James, a remarkable commitment to the beautiful game. The Inverness Caledonian Thistle Years #ICT25 No19 (Games 830 to 887) Runaround now!! The wanderlust was starting all over again, but trekking outwith the confines of Britain still hadn't reco
  18. Rendall's Rambles #6 Here's the next three seasons from James. He does get around and he has been following the Caley Jags from the start. He has put together this fascinating nostalgic recap of Inverness Caledonian Thistle's first 25 years as witnessed through his own eyes. Thanks James, a remarkable commitment to the beautiful game. The Inverness Caledonian Thistle Years #ICT25 No. 16 2009/10 (Games 697 to 745) The Charge of the Blue and Red Brigade. Life out of the penthouse suite started reasonably enough, just nibbling by lowly Montrose away in the Challenge Cup wa
  19. Rendall's Rambles #5 If you have been following James on his ICT journey, here's the next three seasons. He's a well travelled football connoisseur who has been following the Caley Jags from the start. He has put together a fascinating nostalgic recap of Inverness Caledonian Thistle's first 25 years as witnessed through his own eyes. Thanks James, a remarkable commitment to the beautiful game. Inverness Caledonian Thistle Years No.13 #ICT25 Season 2006/07 (Games 512 to 578) A very European feel season. Football in eight countries!! The third season of Caley Thist
  20. The six venues chosen for this summer’s U21 European Championships in Italy is a curious mix, strandling two countries too! The North East pairing of the Friulian cities of Udine and Trieste are quite a distance from the other four. Reggio Emilia and Bologna form the “central” pairing, but it is the appointment of fourth tier stadiums at Cesena and San Marino, acting as the “southern” venues that might have been the surprise picks! Part of this article was penned for Football Weekends embellished with anecdotes of my travels to the latter duo for football. CESENA Had Cesena (pronoun
  21. Click to view slideshow. It is often said that a game under the lights adds a certain extra special element to the experience. This is a cliche trotted out at a variety of venues, along with the notion European nights are even better. Whether any such thoughts are even vaguely true would require experience of both at any given stadium to know for sure. I consider myself very lucky to have watched as much football in so many corners of the globe as I have, but the volume of different grounds would have been double the 250+ if it wasn’t for my support attaching to certain clubs away from my
  22. Click to view slideshow. As Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarn “Tomkinson School Days” begins, “training for the hop was a nightmare”, and sitting having a look at the roster of games, as well as plotting routes between the venues, the idea of six games in 41 hours including four games in a day was simply terrifying! I love my football, and while I had done three games in a day twice, four seemed daunting. Following last year’s hop which was weather hampered and reduced to four jousts, with just three on the Saturday, good sense prevailed in delaying this seasons diet by two weeks. It certainly
  23. Click to view slideshow. This article has been penned with a view to appearing in the Football Weekends magazine in August or September, hence the reference to last season when the dust has yet to settle on the present one! History was made at the end of the last Scottish season with a Highland League club stepping into the league for the very first time through league effort, and as the 19/20 campaign gets underway Aberdeen will join the rest of Scotland’s big cities with two clubs. Cove Bay is a small coastal satellite town (population, 7,000) but the clubs new Balmoral stadium is
  24. Rendall's Rambles #4 If you have been following James on his ICT journey, here's the next three seasons. He's a well travelled football connoisseur who has been following the Caley Jags from the start. He has put together a fascinating nostalgic recap of Inverness Caledonian Thistle's first 25 years as witnessed through his own eyes. Thanks James, a remarkable commitment to the beautiful game. Inverness Caledonian Thistle Years No.10 #ICT25 2003/04 (Games 344 to 396) First floor perfumery, stationery and leather goods, going up ?: And so it came to pass, that upo
  25. There are certain badges of honour in my world, the most important remains the absence of the USA on my 51 country travel CV. Another is borne of a longstanding fascination with the old DDR, East Germany, and a desire to watch football only in this part of the unified land! It all started in the mid ‘70’s when Lokomotive Leipzig were involved in my first ever European match at Tynecastle versus Hearts, and what a night that was, with Hearts 4,2 down from the first leg, and conceding first in Edinburgh, only to storm back and win! No other European match has come close to that drama when I have
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