Peluza Sud

Daniel Lovering and the Peluza Nord Ultras (Picture courtesy of Daniel Lovering)

An Englishman from Herefordshire, a Bristol Rovers season ticket holder and an avid Steaua Bucharest fan, meet Daniel Lovering – who completed a 3000 mile round-trip to watch his team play.

Following his father’s move to Romania in 2008, Dan’s first Steaua game was later that year, against local rivals – Rapid Bucharest.

“The first thing I noticed was the amount of police and how heavily armoured they were – they looked like something from Starship Troopers.”

The match was played at Stadionul Giulești-Valentin Stănescu, a classic Eastern European style stadium – a bowl shape with a roof only covering one section of the stadium.

Leading up to the game, police let the Steaua fans in one by one, literally: “A Steaua fan would enter the arena, get abused and then give some abuse back before being ushered to basically a cage near the corner flag. It was like theatre or the build up to an event in WWE wrestling,” said Dan.

The game ended 0-0, but it wasn’t your typical bore draw: “The atmosphere was electric. Flares all over the place, flags flying and Ultras jumping and singing about how much they hated Steaua.

“It felt like a proper derby. Rivalry, Hatred. The stadium was full of people who cared for their team and despised their local rivals. Fireworks were thrown, Rapid fans were kicking at the barriers trying to get at the Steaua players taking corners.

“The stadium looked like it was on fire due to all the flares. It was just mental, and an experience I’ll never forget,” recalled Dan. “It honestly felt good to get out of there alive, which I guess is a bit of a buzz.”

Steaua, being the most successful Romanian team – played Liverpool at Anfield in the Europa League the following season. A game which Dan attended: “The Steaua fans out sang the Kop all night, with incredible passion [despite losing 4-1]. I was then a Steaua fan.”

Ahead of the 2009 Europa League tie against Liverpool (Picture courtesy of Dan Lovering)

Ahead of the 2009 Europa League tie against Liverpool (Picture courtesy of Dan Lovering)

Having now seen Steaua play on six occasions, this was the first time Dan has attended the Eternal Derby – which Steaua ran out 3-0 winners.

“Unbelievable, start to finish,” Dan reminisced. “Dinamo’s Ultras were behind the goal to my left, the Steaua Peluza Nord behind the goal to my right. Next to the Dinamo Ultras by the corner flag, were Steaua’s Peluza Sud.”

Dinamo’s Ultras and the Peluza Sud were dressed in all black: “There were about 20 seats and a row of police officers kitted out with heavy armour. Some with pepper spray guns attached to cannisters on their backs, it all looked very sinister.”

The Dinamo end unveiled a choreography of Charlie Chaplin whilst the Peluza Nord got a load of balloons out. “It would have looked really impressive in England, but I was a little disappointed because the Dinamo fans were making all the noise.

“Once the balloons were lifted, Peluza Nord upped their game. Flares and flags started flying and smoke bombs started going off. It was a spectacular sight.

“I’ve met people who genuinely think that the English fans are most passionate. In my experience, they are nowhere near it.”

The game finished 3-0 as Steaua sealed the victory with two late goals. The tie seemed to pass without any major incidents other than Steaua keeper, Giedrius Arlauskis, getting hit by a missile thrown by the Dinamo supporters.

“The police presence was enough to deter any major trouble. I had a fantastic evening, the most amazing experience I’ve had watching football.

“I’d recommend it to anyone, football fan or not.”

You can follow Dan on Twitter @LedburyGas