TRANSITIONS: Red Devils and Angry Spaniards – Who are we to laugh at Lincoln after the Sheriff?

Let’s start, for example, from Kalemegdan, where the guy with the snake is standing – or he was swallowed by the crown. Right on Terazije, then to Slavija, down to Čubura and all the way to Južni boulevard, then uphill, along the edges of Vračar towards Cvetkova pijaca. From there you can go down the Boulevard, and you can go down a bit from the hustle and bustle to the slightly quieter streets of Bulbulder. Then Vuk’s monument, then straight to the Federal Assembly and then along the upper Dorcol to the starting point.

In these twelve kilometers of easy walking, and you should hurry because the summer and beautiful days are almost over, you have described an irregular rhombus with an area of ​​about seven square kilometers.

That’s how big Gibraltar is, a country – well, formally an overseas territory of the United Kingdom – where the match of the group stage of a European competition was played in the first round, when the black and whites from Thessaloniki came to their feet.

Only, unlike the promenade where someone could step on you, and you would meet a lot of people, a similar mileage under the Rock, as they call this country, would probably give you a look at more monkeys than people.

21.00: (1.07) Copenhagen (15.0) Lincoln Red Imps (35.0)

Because there are only 32,000 people (everyone could, without having to squeeze in, be accommodated in, say, Parken Stadium, where FC Copenhagen will host them tonight), and monkeys are a little more important anyway: the legend, in which believed and Winston Churchill, so he strictly took care of their population, he says that as long as there are Berber macaques in Gibraltar, it will be under British rule.

Lincoln Red Imps, the most trophy-winning club in Gibraltar and one of the few that has recently acquired the epithet of professional, which means that it no longer applies that you will be confronted on the road in the extreme south of the Iberian Peninsula only tired bakers, confused police officers, happy macaque feeders and other recreational players, rather than people who can proudly enroll a "footballer” in the field of "occupation”, was the best story this year and a better advertisement for the new UEFA competition than all the jokes that the Conference League was made just for Tottenham won any trophy.

The "Red Devils” with their feat – they beat the Luxembourg and Latvian representatives, beat Slovan from Bratislava, sold their skin against Cluj – act like a shiny billboard, like football in all its joy and as another loud and clear argument to all who rightly opposed to the very thought of some closed systems such as the "Super League”, let’s move on when we think of that zombie project.

And after Tuesday night, the Sheriff’s triumph at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, who can be stupid enough to tell anyone that we must not dream of hitting the "ancien régime”?

The fact that the city-state will have European football until late autumn, and that the amateurs and fans of running for the ball until yesterday, and even from a club that did not get a name and jerseys after a great team, but after the current English third league (is still alive) fraternity with Lincoln City, with which a few friendly matches are often played, their founder Charles Paulson he was influenced by his partner and businessman Rega Brerlija, who donated the first set of jerseys), see Copenhagen, Thessaloniki and (again) Bratislava has done more for football this year than the three Messi transfers to Paris or return Christian Ronaldo to Manchester and just a little less than that projectile of a Luxembourger in a club jersey coming from an unrecognized part of Moldova.

And if by the way they also annoy a little Spaniard, it’s just a bonus.

Because even though only a few hundred meters from the famous Rock already begins Spain, and although their names and surnames, including the captain of Lincoln Red Imps Roja Chipolino and the best player Grema Torilju, as well as the language (almost everyone knows "lazily”, a strange mixture of English and Andalusian dialects of Spanish) reflect that various nations passed through the gates of the Mediterranean and stayed on them, they are proud subjects of the British crown, whoGod Save the Queen”They sing for a few decibels louder than their compatriots from the Island.

We are not physically an island, but as if we are", They said even before Brexit knocked on their windows, leaving this piece of territory that the Spaniards have been measuring since the Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713 – with it the British got a 426 meter high stone at the place where the Mediterranean and the Atlantic meet. – in an even more complicated situation than she was.

During fascism in Spain, General Franco he was able to incite much-needed nationalist feelings in his country through the backs of the people of Gibraltar, so he blocked the territory in 1969, all with the exclusion of water; out of spite, prince Charles and the princess Diana they spent their honeymoon there in 1981, because, despite the return of democracy to the Iberian Peninsula, the embargo lasted until 1985.

Two referendums were held, in 1967 and 2002. At the first one, 44 voters voted for the transfer of sovereignty to Spain. More than 12,000 were against. Twenty years ago, the number of "Spaniards” quadrupled, so that 187 voters voted for the option of shared sovereignty. But what is it compared to the 17,900 who voted to keep Gibraltar exclusively British?

Official London then announced that the status of Gibraltar would never change without the consent of the people, and the Spaniards have been successful in only one thing over the years: preventing the Gibraltar national football team from becoming a member of UEFA, even though the football federations of England, Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland.

When this obstacle fell, in 2014, the clubs – and this mostly refers to the Red Imps – began to play Europe. At first with children’s diseases and as cannon fodder and rivals and characters who despise "recreationalists”, so they believe that only the rich, wherever their wealth comes from, are allowed to engage in this serious work.

And then, slowly, with more and more success.

The world first really heard of Lincoln Red Imps when they were on their debut Brendana Rogers, beat the former European champion, Celtic, with 1: 0. The goal was then scored by a member of the Ministry of Defense Lee Kaskjaro, there was also a taxi driver and a customs officer, and on their bench sat a fierce Uruguayan who old journalists would say is "our top sheet”, Julio Cezar Ribas Vlahovic, the current national team selector.

This whole sports-foreign policy context is important in order to understand why Gibraltar and not some other football "dwarfs”, such as Malta, San Marino, Andorra, or something bigger, but equally club-unsuccessful, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina or Montenegro, managed to have a representative in the group stage of a UEFA competition, to have their name in the draw next to a European champion (Feyenoord) or a finalist of the most important European competition (Roma and Tottenham).

There is pride, and courage, and the southern desire to play, and the island’s love for football, which beats not only fellow Lilliputians, but also the fact that on those seven square kilometers there is room for only one football field, and only recently renovated.

Some would say that it is not difficult for them to understand each other well on the field and to die for each other, because everyone lives at a maximum distance of fifteen minutes, so it is difficult to hide …

Anyway, even if they die tonight, and even if they are run over in the remaining four games – and not in every one – it doesn’t matter, they are again the best advertisement for this competition that many despised, they again drew attention to their mainland and the club. of sympathetic name and origin.

Even if all that, it comes, irritates some Spaniard, all the better …

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