Be8player brings you the amazing story about the fan of the handball club PPD Zagreb. Handball matches visits that turned into habit and the interest in handball that turned into love. We have talked to a fan who is known by his nickname ‘Bongo’ among the club’s players and the rest of the team about all that – and more!
‘It began, as far as I know, 20 years ago, and is associated with the first successes of Zagreb, ie. Badel 1862, as it was then called. A team of Bad Blue Boys – which should be given due respect – have made an effort to organize the group support in a superior manner. They partly made me fall in love with handball. The location did not matter, the only thing important was to be with the club, and that lasted for years and years. And still, to this day, the older players say Ledena hall will always stay an unforgettable experience… Unfortunately, the Zagreb Arena will never feel the atmosphere of Ledena. It had its own specificity, he says. ‘It really was organized on the highest level. Everyone knew their role, who was responsible for what. And that’s how it was. And then you get older. People graduate, get hired and each one goes his own way. So that’s how it got lost’, says Bongo.
‘Ledena really was something special, it remains in your memory for a lifetime. The legendary match against Partizan, for example. You leave for the match at noon and come home at 5, 6 in the morning. We used to stop at ‘Big Mama’ where we celebrated the victory with the players. And then in the morning, you go ahead and go to work. It did not matter if you’re sleepy. The only thing that could stop you was a stronger illness.’
Habits that stick
Each year they cross our fingers to win over Celje so they can all together go there with a couple of cars! ‘It has stayed a habit of ours’, says PPD Zagreb fan. ‘I must note that our club, PPD Zagreb, has always been supportive, ensured the tickets and cooperated in many more ways, which we are thankful for. We try to encourage our family and friends to come to the matches, especially the parents with their children, and expand the support to a wider range of people so we can try to make as good atmosphere in Arena as possible, even though it is difficult – you have to gather at least 200, 300 people to be heard in the hall.’
The things that keep you going
What keeps them going and maintains their love for handball and the boundless loyalty, he says, are the mutual connections, friendships with the current and former players that have developed throughout the years: ‘When you enter that cycle, you don’t go out, that’s it. Each one has his own pleasure – to some, it’s football, to some, fishing. For us, that is handball.’
He goes on: ‘My favorite handball player… Look, it might be a little rude to point someone out since I’ve become friends with a lot of both former and current players, with whom I am still in touch. I should enumerate them all. However, one of them stands out. Personally, the one that’s made the best impression on me is Denis Spoljaric. Both as a man and as a player and both while playing in Zagreb and while playing abroad.’
The inimitable passion
And the answer to what you might have been wondering… When asked about handball in regards to sports… ‘No! There’s not a sport that I share the same passion with as I do with handball.’