I've just got back from a trip to a bitterly cold Moscow where I watched my team, Newcastle, grind out a 0-0 draw with those super-heavyweights of European football, Anzhi Makhachkala, in the Europa League.
It cost an arm and a leg to get there (almost £800 including food and refreshments) and there were massive visa hassles, which was made more problematic because the club gave us very short notice about the procedures. We had little more than a week's notice for the £200 visa. Many more than the 70-odd fans would have made it to Moscow, given time and better assistance from the club. On top of that, the flights cost over £250 and the hotels were not cheap either: £100 a night and more.
Unlike other European trips to follow Newcastle, when cities or towns are swamped by United fans, we were outnumbered by the police and Anzhi's following. We had to endure five or six searches from security and police just to get into the stadium.
However, it was well worth it. Moscow is world-class in every sense. The generous hospitality of the Russian people, the intricate beauty of the Metro stations and Red Square. But to go and see your football club play in the Luzhniki Stadium is as good as it gets... bar winning something!
The best part of the night was Anzhi lads going daft in the Metro back to the city centre. An explosion of noise and identity was unleashed as both Geordies and Dagestanis shook hands, sang our songs and took countless pictures.
The cost, the visa, the numbing cold, the searches, the lack of goals... it was all worth it.
Guy Hannay-Wilson is a lifelong Newcastle supporterReuse content