[I:https://www.papublishing.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/JonnyBlair14.jpg] The Northern Ireland ladies team played England in May 2007 in Gillingham, Kent. They lost 4-0 and played with passion and pride against full-time professionals. The fans sang loudly in defeat. So when Shaun Schofield (Author and full-time genius) mentioned going to another away game, it all fell into place. I was going to Belarus! I had exchanged emails with a few of the team and staff before arriving, and when I arrived at the Tourist Hotel in Bobruisk, the team welcomed me as the only Northern Ireland fan at the match! I got to hang out and dine with the squad and staff, and was also given free transport to the stadium, hotel and airport.
The team trained at the stadium of Belshina Bobruisk in this obscure Belarussian city. Manager of Northern Ireland ladies is Alfie Wylie and he gave a speech to inspire the girls before the match. Team captain presented me with a signed shirt from the entire Northern Ireland ladies team – a prized possession and a memory to linger forever. I sat down in the stadium as the only travelling football fan at the match. It was inspiring.
The night before I had met Owen (an Irish-Australian) and Albert (an Australian) and they kindly joined me in the stand with their new recruit, a local lady (a blonde Belarussian with large breasts). Owen wore my Northern Ireland scarf for the day, but none of them could have predicted my loudness or enthusiasm for the team. I outsang almost 1000 Belarussian fans (who only started singing because I was so loud and they felt they needed to prove they could as well). I sang for almost 90 minutes non-stop and yet our team still lost 5-0 against a highly ranked Belarus side. After the match I was made to have a police escort as a few local hooligans were not taking too kindly to my passion for my country!!
[I:https://www.papublishing.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/JonnyBlair19.jpg] I got the team bus with the Northern Ireland ladies back to Minsk the capital city. Before leaving Bobruisk however I got mobbed by loads of kids wanting gifts from me – they assumed I was rich rather than a backpacker!! This wasn’t a commercial world. Once back in Minsk I relaxed with a local Belarus beer and even found solace in an Irish pub on a corner which was called Drozhzhy United! All in all a great day out.
So after all that my journey to Belarus came to an end – what an experience and I was heading to Warsaw in Poland next!
Belarus 5-0 Northern Ireland
(Kazeeva, Tatarynova 2, Davydovich, Kuzniatsova)
Beers I drank – Krinitska, Dnyaprouskaye.
Bars I drank in – Minsk Airport Bar and Drozhzy United Irish Pub.