Memories of Mariupol


Philosophy Football co-founder  Mark Perryman remembers Mariupol in happier times, Euro 2012 


A decade ago, early 2012, me and a bunch of 50 or so England fan friends were looking for where to base ourselves, and our coach driven by our mate Dave Beverley all the way from Scunthorpe, for that year's Euros in Ukraine

The trick with a Euros or World Cup is not to stay in the host cities where costs sky-rocket but within 50-60 miles, hence Dave's coach to get us around. 

We happened upon Mariupol, to be honest none of us had ever heard of it but Ukrainian contacts highly recommended it. 

50 miles south of Donestk where two of England's group games would be, cheap hotel, beach with a bar, sunshine. Touristy things too like an hisriric church we visited. Perfect, and so it proved.

2022 Mariupol is front page news, bombed back, including that church, into the Middle Ages. I'm a solid internationalist. I boycotted South African goods for years, I was on the big 2003 anti-Iraq war protest, through Philosophy Football we've raised funds for a material aid convoy,  one of the lorries driven by Hugh Tisdale co-founder of Philosophy Football, to break the siege of Gaza. But I'll be honest its Ukraine that has moved me like nothing else.

I grew up politically thru' the second cold war. US Cruise Missiles vs USSR SS-20s. Then Gorbachev offered the promise of something different, a dream that's ended with the nightmare of Putin and oligarch power.  This feels like not so much the Cold War revisited, but a hot war.  

And this is Europe, never mind the EU, this is my continent. Thru' following England I've been to not just Russia and Ukraine but Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Moldova, Finland, Belarus, all those countries most embroiled and threatened by this deadly conflict. This feels like home. 

And for three weeks Mariupol was our home. When I see the pictures of this city reduced to rubble, it makes me think of my parents, father, RAF, and mother Royal Navy, returning from the war in '45 to Wallington in yhe south of London suburbs and roads of houses, schools, hospitals, workplaces bombed too, and hundreds of thousands made homell the same experience across much of urban  and suburban Br,itain. And now seven decades later Mariupol the same, Kharkiv where we stayed on route to Kyiv, Kyiv itself, if anything worse.  Lviv too where after the , in those days inevitable, knockout on penalties in the quarters,  the 50 of us in our coach passed thru' the border checkpoint to Poland that today tens of thousands of Ukrainian refuges are queuing up to leave through, forced against their will by the Russian invasion to leave their country.  

I may never be able to visit Mariupol again, but I will never ever forget or forgive what Putin and his oligarchs have done to the city.   

Stop the War? Stop bloody Putin!


Philosophy Football is raising funds for Ukraine aid and solidarity via T-shirts and badges here