Sozopol v Nesebar – Arena Sozopol 15th July 2017

Sozopol v Nesebar – Arena Sozopol 15th July 2017

Saturday evening in Sozopol and the peaches on the beaches are turning a darker shade of brown, the deep house grooves in the beach bars run on endless repeats and the tourists from all over Bulgaria and beyond revel in glorious 30 degree temperatures. Crowds wander the streets, from bar to beach to restaurant to supermarket. We have families with hungry kids carrying inflatable dolphins, loved up couples in fluorescent shorts and flip-flops, old timers whose kids long ago fled to Germany or the UK, professionals from Sofia escaping the Sofia crush for an all together more gentle weekend crush on the Black Sea Coast. Russians, Germans, Poles, Romanians, English, citizens from all across Europe. This is Sozopol, the Bulgarians favorite Black Sea destination and home to the Sky Blues of FC Sozopol.

Inside Arena Sozopol there are a few hundred of us watching the squad presentation before the friendly game against local rivals Nesabar. This will be the last game before the 2nd League season starts next weekend. A last chance for coach Rumen Dimov to fine tune his team and pursue his tactical masterplan for Sozopol to chase that elusive place in the Bulgarian 1st League.

The first thing I notice in the warm up is the new kit, still predominantly sky blue but now with a darker blue to the top half and a collar less V-neck. Gone is the motivational “One Love, One Team, We are FC Sozopol” etching on the back of last seasons shirt, replaced by a rather un-inspiring “Efbet” so predominant on many Bulgarian football shirts. I guess the “Efbet” money is a much more needed motivation for the FC Sozopol accountants. Still, the shirts are lovely, stylish like the town itself and far superior to the yellow Nesebar shirt their opponents wear.

There are several new faces and several new numbers. Most noticeably Krystian Peshov now wears the number 9 shirt instead of the number 6 from last season. There is a number 4 and a number 10. All football teams should have a number 4 and a number 10, it’s as important as round footballs and ballboys.

So with the sun still high in the sky Sozopol line up in their 3-5-2 formation. Number 21, Stanimer Baev sits deep in front of the back 3 to receive the ball and to spray his cultured passes around the immaculate Arena Sozopol pitch. Number 9, Peshov, is pushed up front along side number 7, Christian Tafradzhiyski to form an attacking partnership that I can’t help feel is forced on coach Dimov. I’m sure if new signing, the Brazilian Gabriel was fit he would be leading the line today. For me, Peshov is a player who can influence the game much more from the middle of the park, breaking forward with poise and purpose and lending his elegant right foot to set pieces so I wonder how he will do as an out and out forward?

Sozopol start brightly and on 10 minutes score with a cross from the right finding it’s way to an unmarked Tafradzhiyski who lashes home from 8 yards. As the sun falls lower,  the shadows grow longer and Sozopol’s grip on the game tightens. The un-hurried Baev picks up the ball from defence and finds his team mates with short simple passes or more expansive cross field attempts, keeping the game flowing and keeping Sozopol on the front foot. Peshov has 2 chances to justify the number 9 on his back, both from perfect right wing crosses but both times misses his header with the goal at his mercy. The number 4, Jayhan Zeidemov is a revelation, playing in that essential midfield enforcer role, getting stuck in, winning the ball, breaking up play and unsettling the Nesabar midfield. Toward half time we have some argy bargy when the Sozopol center back Ivan Penev playfully rugby tackles Nesebar’s forward, provoking a lazy right hand swing from the Nesebar player that lands like a lovers slap on Panev’s cheek,  provoking all 22 men into mass handbags and leading to both players being red carded and subsequently replaced to keep both teams at 11 players each.

IMG_3157Half time comes and it’s 1-0 to Sozopol. On comes the Reggaeton and out go half of the crowd for cold drinks or sunflower seed top ups. or back to the beach for more sun. I stay in my seat and enjoy the golden hour sunlight on my face and take in the characters around me. I don’t recognize too many, I guess the regulars don’t fancy these pre-season games too much. Instead we get the bored and the curious. The dapper guy down in the front IMG_3159row with his trilby and mirrored RayBans intrigues me and apparently I intrigue him because he spends most of half time looking up at me with a strange curiosity.

The second half starts with several changes to  the Sozopol line up. Off goes Baev and Peshov, on come Mustapha Mustapha and 17 year old wonder kid striker Steliyan Kolev. The youngster looks fast and sharp, laying the ball off with some nice touches and harassing and hurrying the Nesaber defenders. He looks hungry but a little bit short on confidence, He needs some more game time and some could do with some strengthening up. He wears no number on his back so appears as a true original, a unique player in an always familiar place.

Again Sozopol look bright, probing down the flanks, looking to get their wing backs forward, playing with intensity and purpose but lacking that killer instinct in the final 3rd. 10 minutes into the 2nd half the goalscorer Tafradzhiyski squares up to the referee, yelling a rather bold Bulgarian obscenity into his face, leading the ref to proudly and justly show him a red card. Nesebar offer little but with the sun now disappeared behind the rooftops of the new town they break forward and, after a magnificent saving tackle, are awarded a baffling and completely undeserved penalty. The always animated Dimov is incensed as are the Sozopol faithful in the stands beside me, spitting out their sunflower seeds with extra venom and protesting fruitlessly while the Nesebar forward slots home the penalty to make it 1-1. Somewhere in the confusion coach Dimov is banished from the pitch. An aggrieved Sozopol fan decides to take matters into his own hands, rushing down to the front of the stands, he throws his glasses to the assistant referee, who catches them deftly and throws them back in good spirit. This further incenses our man so he starts to scale the dividing wall, turning the assistants grin to a look of mild terror before the guy changes his mind, probably fearful of the 10 foot drop to the pitch below.

The game ends 1-1. Sozopol dominate but fail to score more goals. They need the Brazilian Gabriel off of his crutches and finding a way to put the ball into the back of the net. They need Mustapha to unleash a few of his left foot rockets and Peshov to find his scoring boots.

The season ahead will be an interesting one. Sozopol will play with style and verve, moving the ball forward as Dimov insists, the crowds will increase as the season starts, the “ultras” of the FC Sozopol Fan Club will sing their songs of passion and light their flares and we will all hope the boys in Sky Blue with the Anchor of Sozopol on their hearts will rise to the challenge and take this glorious seaside town into the upper echelons of the Bulgarian 1st League.

Sozopol v Balchick – Arena Sozopol 22nd July 2017

Sozopol v Balchick – Arena Sozopol 22nd July 2017

6.45 on a Saturday night and the heat hangs heavy in the air in a strangely subdued Arena Sozopol. This is the height of the season and this small seaside town, so quiet in the winter, is now alive and buzzing with crowds of people. Sozopol is a settlement rich in history, it’s secrets even now being revealed with each new excavation. But FC Sozopol is a new club, just 4 years in the professional League, each year making progress towards their aim of The First Professional League. But it’s a casual progress, there’s no hurry, the attitude is: “We’ll get there when we get there, and when we do we’ll be equipped to stay there”. It strikes me as a non-Bulgarian way of thinking but a smart move. Sozopol is not chasing the riches, they are looking to create a legacy, to maintain a character, to do things right. Sozopol has soul and it’s not for giving away.

So here we are on the first day of the new season and it feels like a lifetime since Baev somehow scrambled in that last minute winner on the last day of the previous season,  sending the Sozopol players delirious with hope, but ultimately slightly disappointed at a fourth place finish. So will the progress continue? Can the Sky Blues of Sozopol improve once again and finish third? Or second? Or first even? Can this courageous team on the Black Sea Coast maintain their dynamic, direct style of football into the winter and find themselves in a position to challenge for the First League when Spring comes around? Only time will tell.

We’re sat high up in the last row where we can see the action unfold. Hip-Hop crackles from the speakers, a non-existing bass troubling no-one. The players warm up, or cool down, I’m not too sure which. It’s well over 30 degrees in here and not a breath of wind. The enthusiastic ball boys now all wear matching yellow, oversized T-Shirts that come down to their knees and lend them all a hint of professionalism. Sozopol are in their new home kit and Balchick Chernomorets, todays opponents, wear a very nice kit comprising of a top with black and dark grey halves with subtle blue piping around the neck, black shorts and black socks. It’s one of the better kits I’ve seen in Bulgaria and certainly rivals Sozopol for style.

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The game kicks off at 7pm and Sozopol are on the front foot from the off. Moving the ball swiftly, getting forward with pace and ambition. Playing with verve and confidence. Balchick are new to the Second League, having been promoted last year from the third tier and seem a little tentative at first but grow in confidence as the Sozopol threat seems to wither in the evening heat. Both teams create chances and play an open, attacking style of football so refreshing to watch. There are one or two reckless challenges flying in, both teams fully committed to the cause.

Ten minutes into the game a slightly diminished “Sozopol Fan Club” turn up and unfurl their banners down at the front of the North Stand. It’s reassuring to see them there but they seem to number only 3 and at this stage are very quiet, behaving more like respectful aunts at a family wedding than the hardcore hooligans the writing on the back of their hoodies suggests.

On the pitch, the number 21, Baev impresses again. With his quick thinking, his awareness, his bold running and expansive passing he brings an urgency to Sozopol’s play. The left wing back, number 66 finds himself in space in the box on three occasions, twice heading at the keeper and once lofting the ball over the bar. But it’s the number 9, Krystian Peshov that really shines. He looks an cut above the rest, composed, enthusiastic, alert, hungry for the ball, keeping it close, finding space. I wonder how long Sozopol can hold on to this jewel if his light continues to shine.

We go into half time at 0-0. An entertaining game with two evenly matched teams. We’re listening to the Reggaeton and eating our coconut chips watching the shadows of the substitutes dance around the pitch. There are a few regulars here and there but absent are the more vocal supporters of the South Stand. Maybe they’re on the beach or in the Chalga bars or working in the restaurants that cater for the tourists tribes. Or maybe they’re sat under the shade of an umbrella with a Kamanitsa and a cigarette and not yet too interested in the Sky Blues.

The 2nd half begins with the sun no longer in our eyes and Sozopol kicking towards the training ground. For some reason the “Sozopol Fan Club” have relocated to the away fans cage over to our left but are still quiet and still only number three. Before long Sozopol take off a central defender, switching to a back 4 and bring on Mustapha Mustapha to play on the right wing. He does well out there, cutting inside to whip in his left foot crosses and giving the Balchick left back something to worry about. There are half chances for both teams. The Balchick Goalkeeper looks suspect and I’m pretty sure that if Sozopol can fashion one good shot on target then they can take the lead. As the game progresses it feels like this is going to end as a 0-0 draw. The crowd seem resigned to this  and start to drift away. We remain because this is Sozopol, this is a team that will not give up, a team that will fight till the end and look for the victory come what may.

With the sun now set, and a murky dusk in the Arena due to a failing floodlight, the digital clock shows that time is almost up. Baev takes possession of the ball just outside of his own penalty area and plays a beauty of a pass forward towards Peshov. Pheshov is quick to control the ball just inside the Balchick half, he flicks it round the tight marking Balchick defender, spins him and sprints forward with the ball. He’s lightning quick, the defenders can’t get near him, he charges into the penalty area and with the Balchick goalkeeper advancing and what seems like the whole of eternity on his side he picks his spot and slots the ball home to make it 1-0 Sozopol. It’s a truly wonderful goal and we’re on our feet applauding. The speakers blast out 7 Nation Army and we cheer and wave our arms in the air. The Sozopol players engulf Peshov, the goalkeeper runs the length of the field to place a giant gloved hand on his head and we smile with a mixture of joy and relief. The Fan Club light their flares and find their voice and before long the game kicks off again. There are only a couple of minutes remaining, Sozopol hang in there as Balchick throw everything at them. But Balchick are ruined, in truth it’s hard on them, they fought well but a piece of magic from Krystian Peshov has finished them completely.

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The game ends and we leave happy, the vaguely communist Sozopol Anthem careering  around the stadium as we leave with our hearts lifted. The Boys in Sky Blue persevered and got their victory, our victory. Because this is our team, this is our town. This is Sozopol and we never give up. It’s only onwards and upwards from here……..

Nesebar v Sozopol – Nesebar Stadium 29th July 2017

Nesebar v Sozopol – Nesebar Stadium 29th July 2017

70km up the coast from Sozopol lis the ancient Bulgarian town of Nesebar. The old town is situated on a peninsula and provides some of that old town charm the tourists love. They come, stuffed into air conditioned coaches, to walk the streets, wave their selfie sticks and pollute the cobbled lanes once walked on by the Thracians, The Greeks, The Romans and The Turks. Nesabar provides a kind of last cultural frontier before the all out, all inclusive hell of it’s noisy neighbor, Sunny Beach, just across the bay.

We arrive early but decide to avoid the old town traffic chaos, instead opting for a New Town Duner and a short wait in the free parking outside Stadium Nesebar. The stadium is one of those communist style open bowls with a concrete terrace situated on one side, on which we sit on blue plastic chairs, chipped and marked and carrying the debris of years and years of neglect. I wonder what it’s like to sit here when the autumn rains come and the winter chill sets in? Not too much fun I would imagine. I think back to my time standing in the old Clock End at Highbury in the 1980’s, cold and miserable, watching QPR lose 1-0 to the Arsenal. It always rained on those days and QPR always lost 1-0 to the Arsenal. But that was another place, in another lifetime.

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We take our seat in the top row, slightly away from the main Nesebar crowd. It’s quite a distance to the pitch and I struggle to make out the numbers on the back of the shirts. Nesebar play in pale blue today so Sozopol debut their away kit. And what a beauty it is! Dark Blue shorts, a dark blue top with a yellow top third and yellow socks. Once again a winner! I’m relieved when a handful of the Sozopol coaching staff arrive and take their seats over to our left, looking slightly out of place but ever so proud in their classy Sozopol training kits.

Sozopol line ip in their 3-5-2 formation but Rumen Dimov has shuffled his pack for this one. Out goes Stanimir Baev and Jayhan Zeidemov, numbers 21 and 4 and in come Mustafa Mustafa and Miroslav Radev at number 10. Peshov drops back into his attacking midfield role, alongside number 55, Mikiahl Geargaev with Mustapha Mustapha appearing to take the anchor man role in midfield. Radev is pushed up to partner Tafradzhiyski up front. New signing, the Brazilian Gabriel is still no-where to be seen, let’s hope he’s off of those crutches and ready to play soon.

Straight from the kick off Sozopol attack. Moving the ball down the wings, looking to exploit any lethargy from the Nesebar players. Twice Tafradzhiyski attacks down the left, forcing his way into the penalty area only to be felled both times. The first is just outside the area for which he is awarded a free kick. The second time he is crudely bundled over inside the area for what looks like a nailed on penalty. But the referee refuses, waving play on with Tafradzhiyski left in a heap on the grass, banging his hand on the pitch in frustration. Georgaev is busy for Sozopol, running all over the pitch, always looking for the ball and looking to take people on. But once again it’s Peshov that shines. I prefer him in this position. Picking the ball up in midfield and breaking forward with pace and ambition, playing short, pin point passes, running onto balls over the top, swerving and sprinting with the ball at his feet. He looks a class act but sometimes looks a little frustrated at the limitations of his team mates. But this is not petulance, or arrogance, it seems a genuine will to succeed, a desire to win and a work ethic to back it up.

Nesebar enjoy some possession, knocking the ball around with a degree of confidence the home team are entitled to but never really trouble the Sozopol goal. Several ambitious long shots fly over the bar and a couple of half decent crosses fly aimlessly past the on-rushing attackers and trickle out for throw ins.

Half time comes and it’s 0-0. The sun has disappeared behind the overgrown trees and shrubs that line the back of the terrace but it’s still warm. The mosquitos are out in force, feasting on my exotic foreigners blood while I feast on some “intense meat and mustard” potatoes crisps. The ancient PA plays some kind of clubby house music and people nod their heads and tap their feet in time, chomping on their sunflower seeds and sipping on their secret beers while they wait patiently for the second half.

The second half kicks off with no changes from either side. Again Sozopol enjoy the lions share of possession, working the flanks, knocking balls over the top. But it all comes to nothing. Their build up play is excellent and both wing backs put in several good crosses. But where is the big, powerful center forward to meet these crosses? Tafradzhiyski works hard but doesn’t possess the power and size to put these chances away. Peshov looks hungry, always wanting the ball but he needs a nippy striker in front of him to play his slide rule passes to.

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It strikes me that there is no real enthusiasm for football from the Nesebar followers, and no real ambition to win from their players. Nesebar play a kind of anti-football. Every challenge is a foul. Lots of cynical shirt pulling and sneaky handballs. The tiny Sozopol coaching contingent is by far the most vocal in the crowd, disputing every decision, encouraging every good move, yelling their frustration at yet another poor referee decision. While all I hear from the Nesebar supporters are the quiet murmurings of a fairly passive group that don’t really expect their team to win.

I find myself getting frustrated, Sozopol are dominant but just can’t make the breakthrough. On 78 minutes the number 27 from Nesebar is shown a second yellow and a subsequent red card for deliberate hand ball. This should give Sozopol an edge and I anticipate a gun ho, all out attack for the final 10 minutes. But it fails to materialize. Instead, and quite perversely, Nesebar enjoy a spell of possession, creating a few chances as Sozopol lose concentration in their desperation to score.

The game ends 0-0. The Nesebar supporters skulk out with nothing on their mind, seemingly not bothered by the result. We leave slightly disappointed. 0-0 away from home is not a bad outcome but Nesebar were there for the taking and if Sozopol want to maintain a challenge at the top of the table then these are the kind of games they need to win. Still, two games in, no goals conceded and 4 points on the board is not a bad return for the Sky Blues of Sozopol.

Sozopol v Pomorie – Arena Sozopol 5th August 2017

Sozopol v Pomorie – Arena Sozopol 5th August 2017

So this really is the speedo season in Sozopol. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many misshapen bodies stuffed into tiny speedos in all my life. They walk the streets, proud and oblivious, with their bellies hanging out. Burnt to a crisp from this relentless Bulgarian Summer. The streets now are like some kind of  wonderful freak show. The beautiful and the strange, the crazy and the sane. Bikini girls in bandanas and straw hats, Raybans and Roman sandals. Stern faced boys with shaven heads and flip-flops. The hot-shots from Sofia in their Audi’s and their Mercedes, driving like lunatics down the Trakia highway, flashing their lights like something out of Close Encounters at anyone who dares to go less than 180 kph. They locate themselves at the trendy, cheesy bars in the Marina with their altered girlfriends, drinking cocktails and smoking fake cigarettes. We have the bewildered Europeans, battered by the heat, in bucket hats and walking shoes. The cool kids from Plovdiv, camping at Gradina beach, knowingly keeping out of the Chalga bars, opting instead for the quieter beaches around, wearing board shorts and smiles, the girls in their hippy bikinis, Indian tattoos and beaded headbands. Families with hungry kids dragging inflatable rings to the closest pancake bar, spending all day at the beach just 10mm from the next family with even hungrier kids.

Yes, this is Sozopol in the first weeks of August and it’s a madhouse. But it’s alive and vibrant, colorful and exiting. These people work hard in some pretty grim environments. They endure the harsh bitterness of the Bulgarian winter to come to the Black Sea for a week or two in the summer to just relax, have fun, meet people, meet nobody. To throw off their clothes and their 2000 years of oppression and to be….free…..

It’s almost 6 o’clock on Saturday evening and inside Arena Sozopol it’s like an inferno. The heat is intense. We sit in the last row of the South Stand. Almost everyone else in the Arena Sozopol is in the North Stand, wisely taking shade from the sun. But here we are, along with a few other South Stand regulars, braving the heat to take our traditional place to cheer on the Sky Blues.

Sozopol line up in their 3-5-2 formation in what I imagine is coach Dimov’s favored line-up. Stanimir Baev sits deep in front of the back three, the two wing backs wide, a midfield three with two upfront. Peshov and Geargaev both start in midfield with Tafradzhiyski and Radev the two forwards.

Sozopol start well, encouraged by an expectant crowd in the South Stand. Some of their build up play is excellent, fluid and incisive. Peshov excels again, and the number 55, Georgiev sees a lot of the ball and works hard to create chances. Pomorie are like a lot of the teams that come to Arena Sozopol, they try to disrupt Sozopol’s play, little niggly fouls and play acting. They commit blatant professional fouls that incense the faithful in the stands causing the pantomime booing to ring out. The referee is poor, he stops the game continuously, never allowing an advantage to be played, making some strange decisions, influenced by an inadequate assistant who waves his flag like he’s guiding home a Boing A300. The officials in the 2nd professional league are generally terrible, I wonder sometimes if they are genuinely terrible or deliberately terrible?

Half way through the 1st half the sun dips below the roof of the South Stand and I feel something like I imagine the Space Shuttle feels on re-entering the Earths atmosphere. The intense heat now glues me to my seat, my clothes stick to my skin and the light blinds my eyes. The referee allows a 2 minute break for drinks and the players from both teams gulp down much needed refreshments. Outside the Arena the summer season continues. The Circus car circulates, encouraging us all to visit the circus tonight. The big red Spider prowls the streets, honking it’s horn, picking up the unfortunate souls parked out of place, depositing them at the parking next to Arena Sozopol and holding them ransom until the fine is paid. It’s modern day Piracy of course, unregulated and unfair, a shady operation that earns the municipality and it’s cohorts a tidy sum. A tidy sum that could perhaps be invested back into the crumbling infrastructure of this wonderful town. Because nothing lasts for ever, if you have something precious you need to look after it or you lose it it. Forever.

Or maybe some funds could be diverted to buy Sozopol a new forward. Because this is what they really need. They create chance after chance. Radev has two golden opportunities to open the scoring but fails both times. When they do score, the goal is ruled out for offside. Pomorie look dangerous on the counter, slicing through a somewhat lightweight Sozopol midfield to create a few chances of their own. Coach Dimov becomes enraged at the increasingly erratic refereeing decisions and is given a stern talking and threatened with expulsion from the ref. More booing rings out, the Sozopol crowd becoming increasingly annoyed with the officials. In truth I think they are becoming annoyed with their teams failure to score goals. All the possession and dynamic build up play counts for nothing if you can’t put the ball in the back of the net.

We go into half time at 0-0. Sozopol on top but Pomorie hanging in there. I wonder what has happened to the ‘Sozopol Fan Club’? A complete no-show today. I miss their banners and their songs. I miss the guy with the loudhailer, stirring up the atmosphere, initiating the sing alongs. I miss the Boney M tune with the words I can’t understand. I miss the flares and the cheers, the anger and the anxiety. I miss the passion.

The second half kicks off and thankfully the sun has lowered in the sky, a whispy cloud taking the edge off of the heat, leaving us hot but not fried. Pomorie threaten again with some swift passing through the stretched Sozopol midfield. Georgiev is not having the best of games and I wonder if he might be exchanged for the more combatative number 4, Jayhan Zeidemov to try and unsettle the Pomorie midfielders. Before long the deadlock is broken. But it’s Pomorie who find the net, a thundering header from a nicely taken corner beats Temenliev in the Sozopol goal to make it 0-1. Three minutes later and the visitors make it 0-2, their forward finding himself alone in the penalty area and acrobatically firing in with a scissor kick.

The Sozopol team momentarily feel sorry for themselves, looking around at each other wondering how they are now losing this game 0-2. But it’s only a moment. This Sozopol team is a resilient one and often play their best football when behind in a match. They kick off and go straight on the attack, a fire in their hearts. Playing for their pride and us supporters in the stands. For this is a derby game, Pomerie being Sozopol’s closest neighbors in the 2nd Professional League. This is a game about passion and desire now, two attributes Sozopol has in abundance. But as I have said before passion and desire will only get you so far, sometimes you need some composure and some calm.

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Half way through the second half Sozopol are awarded a penalty when the Pomorie player, Shopov handles in the penalty area. Apparently Shopov already has a yellow card for a previous offense and it’s a complete mystery why he doesn’t receive a red card for this second offense. The Sozopol goalkeeper, Temenliev runs the entire length of the pitch to remonstrate with the referee but only succeeds in collecting a yellow card for himself. Again I wonder is this genuine incompetence or deliberate incompetence? Baev cooly slots home the Penalty and it’s game on. Sozopol play with their souls enraged, desperately searching for another goal but they just can’t find a way through. Pomerie frustrate with their obvious play-acting and time wasting. But this is football now, these are the tactics you need too navigate to win games. Towards the end coach Dimov makes the substitution of  Zeidemov for Georgiev but it’s to no avail.

The game ends 1-2 to Pomorie. Sozopol’s first defeat of the season. The players collapse on the pitch at the end, half from exhaustion, half from frustration. But they gave it their all, they played with pride and passion, they fought to the end. Personally, that’s all I expect of them, to play with desire, a will to win and a need to entertain.

But please Mr Mayor, if you are reading this, can we divert just a little bit of those many, many LEVS pouring into the Sozopol economy at the moment in Coach Dimov’s direction and let him go out and find us a goalscorer. I know Neymar is no longer available but I am sure there is someone out there who can pull on the Sky Blue jersey, put the ball in the back of the net and shoot this glorious team up the table where their football belongs.