Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool fan's anger at ordeal of trip to watch big final in Kiev

By Mark Bain

Bribing guards armed with sub-machine guns, paying their way through four border checkpoints, 11 hours travelling along the "worst road in the world", arriving in the nick of time... it all sounds like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.

But that was the reality of travelling to a football match for lifelong Liverpool fan Gerry Shearer from Portaferry, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair.

Gerry (58) has travelled throughout Europe following his beloved Reds and simply had to be there for last Saturday night's Champions League final against Real Madrid in Kiev.

But the trip quickly turned into a nightmare and Gerry lays the blame firmly at the feet of Uefa and the decision to hold the biggest game of the football season in a country so inaccessible to supporters.

"There were simply no flights into Kiev," Gerry told the Belfast Telegraph.

"So four of us flew from Dublin to Moldova and then hired a car. We understood the drive was going to take about six hours to get through Moldova into the Ukraine and on to Kiev, but it was 11 hours along the worst road I've ever seen in my life.

"There were four customs checkpoints within the space of a mile. The guards spoke no English but we gathered the paperwork for our hired cars wasn't complete and they told us they would not let us through.

"In the end they asked us to pay €50 which they said was for road improvements.

"At the second checkpoint they took €40 from the first car and another €50 from the second."

The ardent fans said they had to fork out another €50 at the third checkpoint.

"It was all a bit ridiculous. They knew we were football fans trying desperately to get to the match. We were in a strange country, unable to speak the language and had no option other than to pay up," he said.

When Gerry arrived in Kiev with less than an hour to spare, he found poor facilities for disabled supporters at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium.

"I basically sat there and listened to the crowd as any view I had of the pitch was extremely limited," he said.

On their way back to Moldova their car was pulled over by police for "speeding", which Gerry said was impossible due to the state of the road.

"The police had no equipment to tell us a recorded speed, but they got us all out of the car and took us to a room," he added.

"There were three of them, armed guards with sub-machine guns. They asked us for €250 to let us go and in the end we had to give the three of them €50 each.

"Given the cost of flights, tickets, car hire and accommodation, and adding in all the unexpected money we had no choice but to hand over to get through checkpoints, it cost each of us well over £1,500.

"I'm just angry that we had to go there at all."

Belfast Telegraph

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