Kvarner is Burning: Armada Celebrates 30th Anniversary Leading to Derby With Hajduk

A series of ceremonial rallies has been taking place all over the Kvarner area in recent days

If you're not living in Rijeka or any other neighbouring towns, were you to see our social media feeds these days, you'd think the whole coast is on fire. Spectacular photos and videos showing various neighbourhoods, playing fields and waterfronts enveloped in flames and smoke make it look like we don't care to implement any fire safety regulations.

What's actually happening is the ongoing celebration of the 30th anniversary of Armada, the loyal supporters' group of HNK Rijeka. A series of gatherings is currently taking place all over the Kvarner area, accompanied by a lot of flares being swung around. Most ceremonies are taking place at various outdoor venues and playing fields, but some of the city neighbourhoods have also seen a bakljada (torch-light rally) with football fans lined up along the local roads. To an outsider's view, the scenes can probably look a bit unnerving - here's one from Zamet neighbourhood in Rijeka:


(photo by Damir Kvajo)


The sole mention of flares can make people twitch due to a large number of football matches getting disrupted by "fans" throwing bengals into the field, followed by violent riots and conflicts between supporters of rival clubs. This time, however, the gatherings are being announced in advance and no violence or damage of any kind has been done, making the week-long celebration a peaceful manifestation meant to show support to the beloved team. The grand finale is happening tonight with the largest torch-light parades taking place at Trsat castle and at Molo Longo in the city centre.

Armada was founded in 1987, the first game attended being the final of the Yugoslav Football Cup against Hajduk in Belgrade on May 9th. This makes for a perfect coincidence, seeing that the 30th anniversary week is leading up to the match between Rijeka and Hajduk that's taking place tomorrow, May 13th. The rivalry between Armada and Torcida shows its face constantly, resulting in the local media speculating that some of the planned celebrations were prevented by local Hajduk supporters who reported the announced events to the police. While we're at it, here's a fun fact: both Armada and the Bad Blue Boys are listed as football ultras in their respective Wikipedia entries, leaving only Torcida to be defined as a supporters' group. Seeing that I'm not biased at all, I wonder who wrote the first two.

Let's hope for a good game on Saturday with no unsportsmanlike conduct; in the meantime, take a look at some videos depicting celebrations around the Kvarner area.

Here's Kostrena bay looking like your average scene of battle in the Game of Thrones:

Armada members celebrating in Viškovo and along the waterfront in Lovran:

And finally, the grand ceremony in Grobnik:


Image source: Riječka enciklopedija - Fluminensia