Arsenal fan Dee Conway in 'fantastic' Moscow: No tensions off the pitch during Europa League visit to Russia
PUBLISHED: 16:50 13 April 2018 | UPDATED: 16:50 13 April 2018
Arsenal progressed to the Europa League semi-finals after a 2-2 draw against CSKA Moscow on a dramatic night in the Russian capital saw them win through 6-3 on aggregate. Ireland's Dee Conway was one of the 500 loyal fans who travelled to the match. Read her account of the trip.
The draw results were out. Arsenal would meet CSKA Moscow in the quarter finals of the Europa League.
After three days of agonising I opted to travel to the away leg in Russia.
Even after researching the laborious visa application process – along with the extortionate €170 fee and a necessary trip to the Russian embassy in Dublin – I decided that I didn’t want to miss out.
I booked a flight from Dublin to Moscow via Moldova to see the Gunners play.
Of course there were warnings of worry from friends and family – along with the UK government – that at a time of such political tensions between the two nations, was it really the best idea to be travelling with a “British” football fanbase?
For me that part wasn’t too difficult.
I love to travel and I love to see The Arsenal. I don’t believe issues such as this should put me off seeing the world or supporting my team.
I would follow my usual travel guidelines. Keep my head down, stay away from potential trouble and enjoy myself while keeping my wits about me.
Three weeks later and 12 hours after leaving my home in County Limerick I touched down in Moscow.
I arrived several hours ahead of most others I knew coming from the UK so I did a little sightseeing around Red Square and The Kremlin.
Moscow has such beautiful buildings everywhere, it really is quite a breathtaking city to take in.
I spent the night before the game in standard Euro away fashion – surrounded by fellow Gooners, eating, drinking, singing and discussing the looming fixture.
Our stomachs with a good Russian feed of meat pancakes, borscht, fried potatoes and a little sample of the local vodka, we made a quick stop at the bar that Arsenal Russia and Belarus had organised a meet up in for us and then onto the stadium via the metro.
I felt no tension making our way there.
We sang on the metro, we sang on the streets. No problems were had.
The game itself was, in usual Arsenal style, an emotional rollercoaster.
The relief when that Welbeck ball went in the net was second to none.
Overall I had a fantastic trip.
The Europa League has certainly brought us to some parts of the world I would otherwise not think to visit, but it has been amazing.
So many memories and friends have been made along the way.
Let’s hope we can make it to Lyon and finish the campaign off in style.
Follow loyal Gooner Deidre on Twitter @DeeGunner_