12months ago if you had told a hardy bunch of WAFC fans that they would be watching a competitive Latics’ game in Russia you would probably have been a candidate for sectioning under the Mental Health Act.
Ben Watson’s winner in the F.A. Cup changed all that and with this in mind, three intrepid pioneers from Wigan, Brian, Kevin and Dave, evoking the spirit of Livingstone, Sir Ranaulph Fiennes and Sir Walter Raleigh set off for Russia.
Over to you guys
Picked up at 3.34 am and taken to Manchester Airport for the flight to Frankfurt. Arrived at 4.30am and checked in for the flight. Stress levels went up as we had to go through the entire procedures, passport control etc. Boarded a Boeing 737/300 and this set off slightly later than the designated time. A smooth flight over to Frankfurt saw us touch down at 9.00am (L/T).
Going through passport control was a procedure and a half with the removal of shoes and belts! Fortunately we had plenty of time between flights. The Moscow flight was an Airbus Industrie A320-100/200. There was some confusion for this flight as the boarding gate was changed at the last minute. The flight served an excellent meal of beef with rice and salad, chocolate cake, roll and cheese followed by coffee and of course a couple of beers.
We arrived at Moscow airport on time . Moscow airport is a dull and depressing place and fortunately we only had a short time to wait before our internal flight to Kazan where we arrived at 11.30PM (L/T) four hours on from the UK.
From the airport we were taken by our taxi to our hotel, the Mirage which was about 25 minutes away from the airport. It was a fabulous hotel, luxury at its best. All the rooms overlooked the stadium and the Kremlin which was lit up at night. We deposited our bags in our room and decided to go for a stroll and ended up in Jokers Bar which was part of the hotel for a couple of beers with some other Wiganers who were staying in the hotel.
We were up early for a sumptuous breakfast. Everything that you would want was laid out before you. We didn’t realise that the players were staying in the hotel until we bumped into Ben Watson in the corridor as he had been up all night with a bad stomach.
After breakfast we went for a stroll down to the stadium, part of which was undercover and part of which was open. The weather was sunny and dry, not what we had expected. We made our way round to the Kremlin in Kazan which is the historic citadel in the city and was built by Ivan the Terrible. The buildings were beautiful and we stopped for a coffee before continuing into the centre of Kazan. Crossing the road in Kazan is taking your life in your hands but we eventually made our way back to the hotel to have something to eat.
We met up with a number of Wigan lads who were enjoying a drink. After having something to eat, we decided to make our way over to the stadium to get any programmes and any other souvenirs before coming back to the hotel as it had got decidedly cold. We couldn’t believe the number of police and security that were following our 150 so fans. About 45 minutes before kick off we went back to the stadium and got into our seats.
The game itself was poor with neither side dominating. As luck would have it they scored with their only real chance of the first half. After bringing on Nick Powell just after half time, Latics looked most likely to equalise but it did not materialise and we had to settle for a one nil defeat. Back at the hotel some of the lads decided to have a drink in the bar but some of us headed off to bed.
Early rise and down for breakfast before we took off following the canal to the shopping area of Kazan. Today was not as warm and was cloudy and overcast. We went in a number of shops looking for a Russian hat to purchase. Having bought one we made our way back to the hotel past a Russian McDonalds and then went back to our rooms to pack ready to check out and be taken back to the airport for our long journey home.
A couple of hours later we were boarding the flight back to Moscow. The plane was only small and took twice as long to get back to Moscow as our outward journey had so we had to move quickly to make our connection. Fortunately we didn’t have any other luggage to check in otherwise we would have missed our connection.
Again the food on the plane was excellent with chicken replacing beef. Again the time between landing in Frankfurt and taking off again was short and again the boarding gate was changed but we managed to make our flight. More alcohol and a sandwich and we were then landing back in Manchester at 10pm.
Another taxi ride and we were dropped off tired and exhausted having had a brilliant memorable visit to Kazan.
Thanks once again guys from all at TNS
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