Fan Exchange: Liverpool – Moscow

Fan Exchange:
Liverpool – Moscow
A special project by Welcome2018, in which football fans of opposing teams host each other in corresponding cities
Former dock worker and aspiring hotelier Tage Herstad is a fan like none other - since 2004 he has not missed a single official Liverpool game, neither home nor away. During this time, he visited about 720 matches in a row – some consider it a record among the fans of the Liverpool club. Tage, of course, could not help coming to Moscow for the second round game of the group stage of the Champions League: Spartak F.C. – Liverpool F. C. But this trip was an unusual one for him: in Moscow he was greeted by the fan of opposing red-whites, Nikita Kuryatnikov.
Tage Herstad, 44
Fan of Liverpool
Gearing up to open own hotel, catering to the fans and their families. The hotel with the bar will be located in close proximity to the Anfield Stadium, which hosts home matches of Liverpool F.C. He is married and has two children.

Since 2004, Tage has visited around 720 games of Liverpool in a row.
Nikita Kuryatnikov, 34
Fan of Spartak
Runs the Meteor Media agency, which specializes in the 3D graphic production, as well as photo and video shoots. He is married and has a daughter.

He has been an avid football fan since early 1990s – the first and only team he rooted for is Spartak.
Thick beard, a black sweatshirt, shorts that showcace a giant Liverpool coat of arms tattoo, - that's how Mr. Herstad looked as he went via Nikolskaya street to the Red Square. There, an elderly Russian fan wearing a Spartak scarf quickly identified the guest as a fan of the adversaries – he decided to use this opportunity to ask for a few photos of them together. "Muscovites are great people, very curious and hospitable. Perhaps not everyone is fluent in English, but that doesn't prevent them from being friendly. At first glance, the Russians seem excessively serious, but they always smile once you start talking to them. In general, I do not see much difference between the Russians and the British," Tage concluded.
"Muscovites are great people, very curious and hospitable"
Soon enough a crowd of British fans appeared at the square, each of them gave Tage a handshake – it was obvious they were on first name basis. After the obligatory photo with the Kremlin in the background, he went to the Sparrow Hills and its observation deck. From there he proceeded to finally meet his counterpart from Spartak's fan base – Nikita.

The meeting of two red-and-white fans took place at the Danilovsky Market. "You have an excellent beard," was the first man the Scouse guest said. And so, contact was made. The meeting was celebrated with a large portion of pilaf, and afterwards the buddies went to check out the Luzhniki Stadium - the main arena of the upcoming World Cup.
Tage decided to pause his stroll through the Luzhniki Stadium at the Lenin Monument, amazed by the rebuild facade of the stadium. Once inside the reconstructed building of the stadium, both were amazed by what they saw. "It's breathtaking," Tage admitted, standing at the edge of the field. "The view is fantastic, it's an incredible atmosphere here. This is nicer than Wembley! I think the games at this stadium will be crazy. I hope to see a Liverpool match here someday."

"First you'll watch the game with Spartak, there you'll get your amazing atmosphere today," Nikita retorted and handed a scarf to the guest, issued to commemorate the meeting between Spartak and Liverpool.
"This is nicer than Wembley!"
When new friends decided to take a group photo, Nikita lifted his pants, revealing a tattooed Spartak logo – no smaller that Tage's Liverpool coat of arms.
After the visit to the Luzhniki Stadium, the buddies took a ride on the MCC to Nikita's. Apparently this was the Muscovite's first ride on that train as well. "It's quite a pleasant surprise - this is quite convenient," he commented on the recently opened railway. "And the view's amazing as well," Tage added, pointing at the Business Centre.

Tage was greeted by another breathtaking view at Nikita's place - a panorama of Moscow from the 37th floor. Following a tour around the apartment and acquaintance with Nikita's daughter Uliana, the host invited the guest to the table, serving a classic Russian dish - pelmeni. Complete with a shot of Russian vodka of course, as is tradition.
Nikita managed to take Tage to a Spartak memorabilia store before the match, where the Liverpool fan bought a whole bag of goodies. After this quick shopping stop, the fans continued their adventures on Myasnitskaya Ulitsa, where the grabbed a few pints in two bars. "These are considered to be our bars, Spartak fans are regulars here," Nikita explained. It was obvious that his words were true, as Tage was issued a bunch of Spartak stickers the moment he set foot in the bar. The Scouse guest caused quite a stir among the locals. He was quickly surrounded b the fans, who started bombarding him with questions and requests for a joint photo. And 90 minutes before the game the bar was vacated – everyone left for the stadium.
"It's so cool, not every club has a station named after them"
The guys rode in a metro car packed with Spartak fans, who sang their team songs all the way to the Spartak station. Tage was particularly impressed by the cheers as they announced the name of the station. "It's so cool, not every club has a station named after them," he said, unable to hide admiration in his voice.

The red-and-white sea brought the adopted scouser and his host out of the subway and towards the main symbol of the arena – a 24-meter tall gladiator, proudly protecting the main entrance of the stadium. It was here where the friends departed, but not before a commemorative selfie. Nikita went to his sector B, and Tage – to the away sector D. The night ended with beautiful football displayed by both teams, Spartak and Liverpool. The score was appropriate: 1 - 1.
"I really enjoyed this trip," said Tage, "I would say it's one of the best ones I've been on. Moscow is a big and beautiful city, it has soul. I love large buildings and statues, and all this is in abundance here. There are very beautiful stadiums - Luzhniki and Spartak. The capital of Russia is a European city where you feel good and absolutely safe. Here people are always ready to help you. Well, now I'm waiting for Nikita, I owe him a favor." When parting, the fans agreed to play poker some time in the future.
"The capital of Russia is a European city where you feel good and absolutely safe"
Spartak will come to Liverpool in early December. In the final round of the group stage, rivals will meet face each other December 6. By this time, Tage expects to open a small hotel just 150 meters from the Enfield stadium. The hotel specifically caters for visiting fans. "I hope we will make it in time, and Nikita with friends will be some of my first guests," Tage wished.