As soon as the the game begins, the Hajduk Split ultras start to bounce. Four thousand supporters pulsate as one thronging mass at one end.
On a desk 200yards far away, a glass of water shakes like the famous scene Jurassic park.Split’s Station Poljud, constructed near a fault line,was built to be earthquake proof. Hajduk fans test that theory. The stadium is shaking.
By the hour mark in Wednesday’s match against bitter rivals Dinamo Zagreb, a sea of red flares have been lit in the home end.
They are officially banned, but are smuggled into the stadium down trousers and in coat sleeves. The pitch and stands become engulfed in smoke, initially giving the scene a mystical quality – but eventually just blocking the view.
A number of flares make it over the running track and onto the pitch, forcing Dinamo goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic to move outside his penalty area for his own safety. Only then do the officials halt play for several minutes.
When Hajduk midfielder Mijo Caktas is sent off for a swinging arm that sparks a melee involving all 22 players, he is cheered from the pitch like a soldier returning home from war. In one section of the northern end, home supporters start a fire and seats are burnt. Fans continue to bounce, barely three metres from the blaze.
At no point does anyone act like this is out of the ordinary. Welcome to Croatia’s Eternal derby.