Welcome to a shift in tone for Sub Story. Budapest’s wonderful old stadiums are no more, my Vasas season card sits idle in my wallet, and I’ve said goodbye to my erstwhile matchday companions Kev and Mike. Instead we (metaphorically) and I (literally) move to Bahrain – a name which means Two Seas. The country is a small island in the Gulf, located between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
I’ve just moved back here, and am primed to do some more groundhopping, but unfortunately information in English on Bahraini club football is thin on the ground – hopefully I’ll be able to learn and share a few things on my travels so that visiting fans can step into the world of Bahraini football more easily. Let’s take a look at what’s in store.
As you can see, it’s not exactly the 92 grounds that English completionists have to deal with. It’s fewer even than the 20+ that stand in Budapest. Nevertheless, it’s a nice mix of the new, the historical and (my favourite), the small and quaint. In fact, I’ve already written about one of them – Isa Town – in my Brazilians in Bahrain blog last year.
Now unlike my Footballing Map of Budapest, I’ve not put the teams with the stadiums, that’s because a lot of the teams use the National Stadium, and there’s a lot of ground-sharing. We’ll see this on the way. Also – to help me out – I’ve started using the Futbology app. If you’re at all interesting in groundhopping, it’s the one to go for.
A quick overview of football in Bahrain: Muharraq (on the little island in the northeast of Bahrain) are by far the most successful team in the country, winning the Premier League 34 times (Riffa in second place have 13). The national team have been riding a wave of success of late, winning both the West Asian Football Federation Championship and the Gulf Cup for the first time in 2019.
My first match was last night as I headed southwest to Hamad Town, so I’ll try get that blog out this week. Please let me know if you have any advice, questions, or info that could help me out on my travels!