Vile Barrage’s Eurotrip – Episode 8: Greece

Each month we’re giving Question Time viewers a break from looking at his puckered bumhole of a face and sending our Eurosceptic correspondent to a scout a different league on the continent. As usual, with hope more than expectation, we’re looking forward to an insight into one of Europe’s top divisions, though more likely we’ll receive the ramblings of a troubled racist. With Britian experiencing a cold snap, we thought he might like to get away to the sun, and in lieu of being able to fire him to a crispy death, we’ve plumped for Greece.

“ ‘Greece is the word, is the word that you’ve heard, it’s got groove it’s got meaning, bah bah bah bah, Greece is the time, is the place, is the motion, Greece is the way I am feeling’ Huzzah! I ruddy love the Beatles. A lot of people call them middle of the road, and to that I say ‘they’re only middle of the road because they’re right up my street!’. Marvelous. Now then, I’ve been sent to the sunny climes of the Mediterranean, and if you hadn’t guessed from that little ditty at the top, I’m in Greece! Ah yes, the home of the philosophers, a vast landscape of history and ruins, the birthplace of buggery. I think I’m going to have a lot of fun here. Not least because, on my own advice, I’ve completely eschewed the blasted Euro for this trip. Now it may surprise you to discover that I couldn’t purchase any drachma at the Bureau for Exchange, so I’m hoping the local shopkeeps will be happy to exchange goods for teabags – PG Tips no less! I’m not going to let Barnier make a monkey of me, no siree. Anyway, since I’m in Athens shall we get on with it?

Title Contenders

AEK

Before we take at look at the team currently top of the league, I thought I’d use this opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of this historic city. For those who don’t know, Athens is named after Athena, who was the Greek goddess of discounted posters. There are a variety of symbols that represent Athena, including helmets which, if my reputation preceeds me in the south of Europe, makes me a prime figurehead! Of course no trip to Athens would be complete without a trip to the Parthenon though, now that I’m here, I must confess it’s a little disappointing. It’s basically like one of those bandstands you get in the provincial parks, mostly used for young couples to engage in some “fingering”. And there’s not even any of that going on here. Nevermind – onto AEK Athens! Now AEK (let’s call them to Averagely Entertaining Kickers because I’ll be damned if I know what it stands for), have been a little starved of success in recent history, and they haven’t won a league title since 1994 – imagine that! My esteemed party was a mere speck on the British political landscape back then, how far we’ve come. This year, however, it looks as though that might be changing as they currently sit on top of the league. That position is thanks in no small part to their mean defence, who’ve let in a meagre 12 goals so far this season.  Panagiotis Tsintotas, the man between the sticks, has been a revelation for AEK since joining the club in the summer, and rumour has it that he’ll be the national team number one going forward. That tight defence is marshalled by Michalis Bakakis and the Ukranian Dmytro Chygrynskiy, who looks a bit like he belongs in one of those modern beat combos like Kaspian. In midfield, the experiences Lazaros Christodoulopoulos has chipped in with goals, while the Two-Headed Eagle boast a plethora of attacking talent – seven of the bastards in fact! Marko Livaja is the club’s top scorer this season, but he’s closesly followed by Anastasios Bakasetas. It won’t shock you to discover there’s a mixture of nationalities here, but you can hardly blame them. If the Greeks are as bad at football as they are accounting they’ll need a little help!!! Do I think they can keep this title push going? Difficult to say – there’s a couple of sides on their tail, and they’ve got a history of bottling it when the going gets tough. I should introduce them to my friend Mr Cameron!

Next stop – Thessaloniki! Rather irritatingly the bus driver wouldn’t accept my kind offer of 90 prisms of finest British tea leaf, so I had to hitch a lift with a goat farmer. At first I was a little nervous about the idea, but once we got onto the topic of Freedom of Movement the hours just flew by. Unfortunately Andreas had to make a detour so dropped me off just outside Larissa. Still, nothing wrong with a bit of exercise, and thirty-five hours later I made it to my destination. Now, a little bit of trivia about Thessaloniki – it was actually named after Alexander The Great’s sister, who presumably was called Thessaloniki The Great. It must be tremendously difficult trying to create the largest empire on the planet when you’re sister keeps turning up and asking if she can borrow your Wham! twelve inch. I’d have certainly offered to lend her my twelve inch, let me tell you. I had two copies so it wouldn’t have been an issue. I’ve always wondered what it’s like to have a sister – I had to make do with a Wet Nurse, but let me tell you, Eunice has been a rock to me. And even into her eighties she’s got a cracking set of top bollocks. Now then, PAOK (Perfectly Adequate On Kicks) are part of the chasing pack, though they’ve gone even longer without a title win than AEK – 1985 was the last time this lot won the league, when I was a city hotshot. Ah yes, it was all cocaine and hookers back then. Not for me you understand, regrettably I was never invited along to that kind of carry on. Still, PAOK have finished runners-up thrice in the last ten years, and just maybe this will be their year. They’ve got a far more contintental feel about their team than most, and a defence made up of a Brazilian, a Cape Verdean, a Spaniard and a Greek (in front of an Argentine goalie) are the best performing in the league this season – letting in one fewer than AEK. The big name in the squad is former Napoli winger Omar El Kaddouri, though international soccer fans might recognise striker Robert Mak – he represented Slovakia at Euro 2016. Serbian striker Aleksandar Prijović is the side’s top scorer, and it says here he once played for Northampton Town – what a load of cobblers! Ha. Just to clarify, its true that he played for Northampton Town, and the cobblers thing was a joke. They’re called The Cobblers you see. PAOK certainly seem to have the defensive gumption to win this title, but I can’t help but think they might miss out. Now where are we off to next? Piraeus? Where’s that? What do you mean next to Athens?!

European Challengers

Olympiacos

A complete bloody waste of my time. I spend two days hitching and walking my way to the other end of the country only to be told I’ve got to turn right back. Ludicrous. On the plus side, though, all this travelling means I’m making big teabag savings on hotel rooms. So, Piraeus. Largest port in Europe, and you know what that means? Sailors. Piraeus translates to ‘the place over the passage’, so I’ll be christening it The Bum-Crack of Greece. Piraeus is much like every other part of Greece, really. Once you’ve seen one bit you’ve seen it all. Old rocks, basically. Olympiacos are the most successful side in Greek history, with a whopping great 44 league titles to their name. This season, though, they’re struggling. A leaky defence is causing the most problems for them – they’ve got the worst defensive record in the top four – though they’re having no such trouble at the other end.  Iranian striker Karim Ansarifard is the club’s top scorer, though he’s among illustrious company in the squad, with Nigerian Emmanuel Eminike and Marko Marin just two of the players I’m pretending I’ve heard of. They’ve got a bit of catching up to do, but if anyone can do it this lot can.

Now then, Peristeri, this is much more like it – just the two hour hike to contend with here. Also there’s absolutely nothing to do in Peristeri, probably because its so close to the capital. A bit like Stevenage, it’s just a load of houses for people too poor to live in London. Eurgh. Now I’m thinking about poverty. Hand me an ouzo! So Atromitos are the surprise challengers for the last European place this season, with Panathinaikos languishing in mid-table. Top scorer Abiola Dauda was last seen plying his trade at Hearts of Mithloadian which I think is something to do with Scotland (spits), but the Nigerian is one of only a few foreign faces in this side which, after the multicultural nightmare I’ve been living in for the past few days, I’m relieved to see. Given that Xanthi, the team below Atromitos, are 14 points adrift from the top four, it’s hard to see them throwing it away from here. Having come to the end of an exhausting couple of days I’ve managed to barter my way to a meal and a bed for the night, and I for one can’t wait to try some traditional Greek fare!

Relegation Candidates

Platanias

Revolting. Can’t stand olives, feta cheese is all sour, and don’t get me started on vine leaves. Thankfully the daft old racist at the bed and breakfast I was staying at managed to ply me with enough Metaxa to see me sleep through the night without one of my terrors. Sometimes I wonder if we pay the price for being so noble. Just the two more stops for me, and rather excitingly I’ve made the trip to the island of Chania. Granted it meant spending most of the day sailing across the sea of Crete surrounded by gasping sea-life and smelling like a mummy’s well-worn draws, but if anything it made me nostalgic for my days as UKIP leader. So, Platanias. Did all right last season, finished midtable, everything was going well, now they’re rock bottom and destined for the drop. What went wrong? The appointment of journeyman goalkeeper José Manuel Roca Cases as manager looks to have been the major turning point this season, though the strikers should shoulder some of the blame – a record of one goal in every two games in paltry. With the Red and Whites sitting nine points from safety, I can’t forsee anything other than relegation I’m afraid. Now, must get myself to an apothecary. I think sitting with all those fish has given me a nasty rash.

Oh I don’t believe this. I’m off to Athens again, so it’s back on the boat for another ten hours. For God’s sake. Apollon Smyrni is our final stop. Promoted last season, they’re currently fighting it out with Kerkyra to avoid the drop, but I think their lack of top level nous might see them struggle. Former Sunderland striker Anthony Stokes turns out for The Light Brigade these days, and he’s no stranger to a relegation scrap. He is, unfortunately, bloody awful. Sorry chaps, but you’re going back to where you came from, just like all the third generation immigrants I senselessly demonise!

So that’s Greece ticked off the list. It promised so much, but delivered very little. Turns out I’m not in the least bit interested in ancient Greece, and to be honest the heat was a little too much for me. Now if you don’t mind, I’m off for 114 nice British cups of tea, right after I’ve applied my Canestan cream.

So there you have it. Vile Barrage writing off thousands of years of rich history and contracting thrush in the process. Let’s hope it somehow spreads to his brain. Otherwise, he’ll be back for another round-up next month.  

*Shortly after this report was filed, the Greek Superleague was suspended indefinitely – coincidence?

 

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