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ponedjeljak, 22. svibnja 2017.

World Exclusive Photos Of The Day: HNK Rijeka Fans Celebrate Historic 1st Croatian League Championship Title (+Video)

HNK Rijeka ffootball club for the first time in the club's history officially clinched the Croatian First Division National Championship after yesterdays win.

I've been trying to avoid doing any sports related topics for quite a while and instead keep it fresh with other topics, but this is different because it's mainly yesterdays pics of the fans and city atmosphere after an historical first, so it's actually sort of more like a history post actually. Reason being that the football club HNK Rijeka from the coastal city of Rijeka just yesterday clinched the Croatian First Division (HNL) title for the very first time in the club’s history, and the first time since the modern era Croatian indpendence and formation of the Croatian First Football League (Prva Hrvatska Nogometna Liga) in 1992, so a truly historic occasion. (Actually so historic and dating from before the time HŠK Victoria (Croatian Sports Club Victoria) played their first football match against HŠK Građanski Zagreb at their newly opened home field Kantrida stadium in 1913, (brand new at the time but it will soon be demolished, more about that below), with HŠK Victoria eventually becoming today's HNK Rijeka and HŠK Građanski Zagreb becoming the later GNK Dinamo Zagreb, this at a time when the Croatian crown lands were still in political union with the Habsburg Monarchy Austria-Hungary). The HŠK Victoria opening home field match at Kantrida stadium in 1913 was also the very first football match played at Kantrida stadium according to official association football rules. *Interestingly, even the very first organized football match to ever be played on Croatian soil took place in Rijeka in 1873, it was a friendly match between a team composed of Hungarian railroad workers and a team from members of the then Technical Institute of Rijeka, played on the occasion of the opening of the new Karlovac-Rijeka railway line.

In 1908 the HŠK Victoria football club was formed in the Sušak neighbourhood of Rijeka and eventually became today's HNK Rijeka, and their very first home field match played at the newly built Kantrida stadium in 1913 was also the first one played there according to official association football rules. Interesting side note since on the topic, in 1908 the same sports club HŠK Victoria also simultaneously started a water polo section which also just happens to be the oldest Croatian water polo club. (which is sort of cool and good to know because it's almost similar to the less well known fact of how the oldest existing Croatian language continuously daily published newspaper "Novi list" was published in the city of Rijeka in the year 1900, and the first official ski club in Croatia was also formed in Rijeka and founded in 1885, which is actually 10 years before even one was formed in more snowier Zagreb in 1895, more about that topic HERE)

Hence the "World Exclusive" description, sure you can find out results and mentions on sports and soccer websites, but you won't see these behind the scenes real goings on pics, which to me is an important part of and integral to the whole topic, I can even guarantee that any English language sports mention won't have any of these historic pics. (And besides who knows when it will happen again? Perhaps next year, perhaps 10 or 20 years from now or even longer, or maybe they'll win the next 5 years in a row, because sports is like a box of assorted Keksi Domaćica after all, you never know which flavour you're going to get, the raspberry jam filled one, vanilla, chocolate, the one with almonds, coconut or cinammon, you just never know when it comes to sports and keksi), so here are some fresh and truly rare historic images. The main thing also is that it's cool that HNK Rijeka won the Croatian First Division title besides one of the other 2 major Croatian football (or soccer as many call it in places) first division powers, namely GNK Dinamo Zagreb or HNK Hajduk Split. This story can be put on a par with and will be as memorable for the fans as when Triple H won the WWE belt or when the real-life Scooby Doo movie came out, an historic moment where everyone knew exactly where they were and what they were doing, that's how historic.

And they sure deserved it after losing only one match all season, (and only near the end of the season on a questionable penalty kick in extra time at that), and so the fans let it be known as well. Most of the fans in attendance rushed onto the field in the dying seconds and the party was on it's way. Celebrations, relief, pride and joy (and flares, there's always gotta be flares because that's the way us Croats roll when it comes to things like this), elation inside and outside the stadium, downtown, in the bars, pubs, the cafe patios, in homes and streets and lasting well into the night. After the league title clinching match, the Slovenian team manager Matjaž Kek and a bunch of the players then boarded the team bus to the downtown Phanas Pub to celebrate with some fans and knock back a few cold ones. (Also important to note, there were absolutely no shootings, stabbings, cases of violence, smashed windows, vandalism, looting, overturned anythings or arrests during the celebrations even in the downtown ghetto Korzo neighbourhood district, just good ol' celebrations basically so that's good to know. Probably just a fair amount of empty beer bottles and plastic cups in the garbage bins.

Yesterday's win against HNK Cibalia Vinkovci gave Rijeka an unassailable 5-point lead with only one round to play and they'll be officially presented with the league trophy next weekend, fittingly, after their last meaningless match of the season against Dinamo Zagreb in Zagreb, who were the main competition for the title during the season. Although they've never been relegated and are only one of four founding HNL teams never to have done so, as well as winning 2 Croatia Cups and a Croatian Football Super Cup, the top national league championship title has eluded them until now. The club’s previous best finish in the Croatian First Division was runner-up, which it achieved 5 times in the league’s history.

I'm sure there will be more celebrations and related events taking place over the next few months though, so it's going to be a great summer in Rijeka without a doubt (Prononunced "Ree-ye-ka" in Croatian btw, and having the meaning of river after the Rječina river which flows into the Adriatic sea through the city of Rijeka). Also other clubs in the league will now be able to also hope to follow Rijeka's example with their own season upsets and win a first league title. (only Zagreb's other Prva HNL team NK Zagreb was able accomplish this feat before during the 2001-02 season, I see something similar happening to NK Osijek down the road too though because they were a solid 3rd place for a large part of the season).

Interestingly also, HNK Rijeka won the title without throwing large amounts of money at acquiring overseas foreign players and the related hoopla, (you know, as in blah blah is the answer and he's going to assure us the championship, because it was mostly homegrown Croatian players and just a few players from Slovenia, Romania, Montenegro, Switzerland, Macedonia and a Swiss Croatian and Austrian Polish national), so basically it was just teamwork, intestinal fortitude and hard work less the expensive ball kicking saviour hoopla that won them the national championship, which is why you'll see some of those flags in a few photos and video. (Pfff, like as if we don't know how to chase and kick balls locally because it's too difficult and we don't know how, actually sometimes they don't even attempt to learn the language of the country they play in). This is good news for parity in the league, for the sport in general, and so for the country as well as civilization and progress in the world actually, (it's true, how so? because it will mean more fans and so more beers and adult beverages sold, which will mean more pubs, bars and cafes and so a more enjoyable ambiance and content society, hence a safer content society and civilization), it's the old adage that persistence pays off in the end, not giving up, staying on the course etc. I spent 2 whole summers mostly in and around Rijeka as an 11 and 12 year old and had the 2 best childhood summers of my life, and it was great eating Croatian food all the time, plenty of relatives and going to the beach, seeing the historic sights and baroque buildings and actual real life medieval fortresses and castles and not just the amusement park fake castles, and then luckily visited again a few times over the last few years, so I'm personally glad they finally pulled it off, lots of the fans have been waiting a lifetime for this moment.

Like I said at the beginning, it's the first official Rijeka football championship dating from even the very first organized football match to ever be played in Croatia and Rijeka in 1873, so it's much more than just a sports score post but because its never happened before it's images of a very historic first. Let them rightfully celebrate until the cows come home to roost like they say in Alberta. Hip hip hooray and all that stuff. I'm sure there will be similar scenes and atmosphere after being officially presented the league championship trophy this weekend and the parade/festivities afterwards.

Official standings with one last game remaining.

*Note - construction of the northern stand of their current temporary home and training ground Stadion Rujevica has already started (as in the very next day) which will bring the total capacity of the stadium to 8,500, this is in order to comply with UEFA stadium categories requirement for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League which HNK Rijeka will now take part in next year. The new 15,000 seat Stadion Kantrida has been rescheduled to be built within the next few seasons, the pics would have looked cooler in the new Stadion Kantrida so I guess they'll just have to win the championship again in a few years. More about that at a previous post HERE or by hitting the Kantrida Stadium tags at the bottom.

(Oh yeah and btw, according to some emails I've been getting, yes I know Stipe Miocic just defended his UFC title with yet another 1st round TKO, but I'm going to instead include that story in a future post, in another world exclusive. That being about the real behind the scenes secret to his UFC success is not in any way related to any exercising, training, prayers, vitamins, gymwork, being a fireman or any of that, but shockingly instead only to the fact of growing up on Croatian food. Yep, that's it and all there is to it, it's pretty amazing with facts, statistics, crunching the nutrients numbers, various side effects and more. (all those tv bits is just acting, makeup and special effects for the cameras, it's a mirage). It's going to really wow lots of people and will be another interesting world exclusive, stay tuned for that down the road, now back to this topic)

Image sources and more information:

First a few bonus video highlights I came across and should include, just before the final whistle...

Highlights of the match...

Simultaneous celebrations outside the stadium by the downtown waterfront, during and after...

Even better long version footage of the downtown outside celebrations...

Players thoughts after the historic league championship clinching win...

Interesting aerial view after the win and championship was officially clinched.

All images are from throughout the day and in no particular order. (for those unfamiliar there's more background information about the city of Rijeka HERE)

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