Police, Pamphlets, Poljud: Day One of Everton Fans in Split

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

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My day one observations of Everton supporters in Split.

As most of our readers know by now, Hajduk and Everton will face each other in the rematch of the Europa League playoffs tonight at Poljud Stadium in Split.

A complete sellout is expected at Poljud as roughly 1,300 Evertonians have made the journey over from Liverpool. Rest assured, this will be one of the greatest spectacles Poljud Stadium has ever seen.

Because most of the Blues arrived in Split yesterday – many of them male ranging between the ages of 20-60 – I thought I would give my observations of an Everton invasion in the Dalmatian capital on day one. Here is a bit of what I saw. 

Poljud: I made my way to Poljud for the Hajduk and Everton press conference before 6:30 pm yesterday, first getting a feel for the scouser energy in the city then. I arrived at the meeting 15 minutes early, worried that I would be too prompt for the Dalmatian that I say I am, but fortunately, I came when I did – the press room was nearly full of Everton’s equally ready PR team, the English media, and loads of cameras and equipment. The press conference would begin 7 minutes early.

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While most of the questions asked by the English media had nothing to do with tonight’s match and everything do with the fact that Wayne Rooney announced his retirement from international duties, we finally got around to questions I found of interest: Hajduk’s chances and the atmosphere that awaits us at Poljud.

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Everton manager Ronald Koeman announced his eagerness to play in a stadium that demonstrates the beauty of European football, and Hajduk manager Joan Carrillo said that regardless of the result tonight, there will be a fiesta in Split. Hajduk footballer Ante Erceg exclaimed that the chants of Torcida would be the extra burst of energy needed for the players to give their everything in a match they are so hungry to win, and suddenly everyone in the press room felt a bit more hopeful for a Hajduk miracle at Poljud.

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Sat behind a Daily Mail reporter typing away about Rooney’s retirement, I opted out of watching the teams train after the press conference and decided instead to head to the center to get a feel for exactly how thick the Everton energy was in the city.

From Poljud to Marmontova, Evertonians were sprinkled around town with their carry-on luggage in tow. None of them wore Everton colors as the club advised in their official statement, but there was a certain uneasiness felt around them – were they worried about Toricda?

I decided to stop into Charlie’s Bar to see if anyone had found the pints yet, and sure enough, two older Everton supporters with smiles stretched across their faces and Croatian captain hats on top of their heads were having one hell of a time. I got to talking to them.

The two from Liverpool whose names I can’t remember (let’s blame it on the accents) arrived in Split yesterday morning from a Manchester-Zadar flight the night before. The pair spent all day bouncing around town, from pint to pint, proclaiming how lovely they found Split. 

Comfortable enough to dig deeper into conversation with them, I brought up last week’s “crowd incident” at Goodison Park and asked them what they made of it. 

“We’ve traveled all over Europe to watch Everton play, to war zones even, and we’ve never seen anything like that in our lives.”

Were they worried about being Everton supporters in Split?

“We’ve been walking around all day and haven’t run into a single problem – everyone has been so pleasant here. We are not worried about anything happening tomorrow, and we are dressing in disguise with these caps. We want to walk to Poljud with everyone for the match; we don’t want to have to go in a ‘safe’ charter bus.” 

I was beginning to think this would be the feeling of most Everton supporters in Split. 

Pamphlets: I would then wait for my friend, an Everton fan in town for the match with friends, at Charlie’s. 

“We’re going completely in disguise as tourists. Only flowery shirts and flip flops for this holiday,” they would say. And being that we were in the alleyway with the best tourist bars in the city, it wouldn’t be too hard to pass as one.

My friends arrived to Split via London in the early evening, and as we spoke about their flight delay and overall experience, they mentioned that they received a pamphlet at the Split Airport upon their arrival.

Sponsored by the Tourist Board of Split and the Ministry of Interior, the front side of the pamphlet reads: 

“Welcome to Split. The Republic of Croatia is a popular tourist destination and the town of Split is one of its gems. We wish you a pleasant stay in our town. A MEETING ZONE has been organised for you in the area of the PARK ZVONCAC, where you can enjoy your day, eat and drink, before the beginning of the match. The MEETING ZONE is close to the stadium. Transport from the MEETING ZONE to the stadium has been arranged. Enjoy yourself and have a nice day.”

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On the pamphlet, there is a map of Split with directions from Zvoncac to Poljud, and the phone numbers of the police, fire department, ambulance, and emergency.

The backside of the pamphlet gave Everton supporters “police advice.” The main points included:

– Arriving at the stadium on time (Poljud will be open from 18:00).

– Forbidden items into the stadium (from alcoholic beverages to glass, drugs, pyrotechnics, weapons, and lighters).

– Aggressive or racist banners, posters, flags or anything encouraging hatred or violence based on racial, national, regional, or religious affiliation are forbidden.

– If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will not be allowed into the stadium. Apparently, the limit is 0.5 g/kg, meaning 3 pints would tip you over the legal allowance.

– NO to discrimination, xenophobia, racism, and all forms of verbal and physical violence.

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The pamphlet ends with encouraging words to fans, telling them that the police will be at their disposal during and after the match.

Will this help? Who’s to say. 

Police: Now the big question – did day one end without incident? Although I am not entirely sure, I will say that there were quite a few police parading the streets of Split last night. While there were a few walking up and down the Riva, a larger concentration of police officers camped out by the popular Inbox bar next to Pazar, and police vans were scattered in the central areas near the bus stops and bus stations. 

I did notice a group of kids sprinting from police, a police van speeding off, and another group of kids running in the opposite direction around 2 am, but I am hoping that was just a false alarm. 

From what I can gather of day one, Everton supporters are simply here to have fun. Although some might be looking for trouble (there is always one), the majority of Everton supporters in Split want to experience a Hajduk match in the company of Hajduk fans while their Blues get the chance to play in one of the most picturesque settings in Europe. 

Many fans have asked me where they can buy Hajduk gear to bring home to their nieces and nephews, what bars they should visit to meet the locals, and what restaurants they should try to experience Dalmatian cuisine in all of its glory. I would be lying if I said a few of them weren’t scared, and whether or not tonight passes without incident, time will tell. 


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