Grigor Pasha writes: June 2023. The prolonged winter break in Bulgaria means that we don’t get much time off in the close season in the summer. Still, I’ve found a few days to catch up with Mariya, my half-sister. She’s come up the coast from Burgas to stay with me for in Balchik.

When she arrived we went for supper at Restaurant Selena. It’s pretty good in my opinion: fresh fish and a waterfront location.

While we were drinking our appetisers — a superior Bulgarian Riesling — Mariya was reading a regional newspaper. At a certain moment, she sighed.

‘What’s the matter?’ I asked.

‘There’s an article about you,’ she said. ‘Saying you’ve taken Chernomorets Balchik as far as you can.’

She read some text aloud: ‘Chernomorets’ mid-table position was respectable, though not as good as last season’s top-six finish. But the club now needs to kick on if it is ever to challenge the big clubs like Ludogorets and CSKA Sofia. The question is, does Grigor Pasha have what it takes for the fight or is the truth that he has now taken the club as far as it can?’

‘That’s not the truth is it, Grigor?’

She’s very loyal, Mariya.

‘No, it’s not the truth. It would be more true to say that I feel I’ve gone as far as I wish to go with Balchik.’

‘How come? I thought you were happy here. Not some woman trouble again, surely!’

‘No, no. And yes, I have been happy here. And I like to think I could take the club to that level. We have some good players, a great back room staff, an improving infrastructure…I think we could qualify for Europe in the near future. But…’

‘But what?’

‘Well, it would be a slog. To really challenge the big boys, that would take years of effort. I’m 63. I’m not sure my heart’s in it. Besides..’

‘Yes?’

‘Besides, a strategy for developing the club further is bound to require a big role for youth.’

‘What’s wrong with that? Working with young people can be such fun you know’

‘No, it isn’t. I hate being surrounded by young people. They’re all “like Facebook and like looking at their like mobiles all the like time”. I just think, “Bugger off!”‘

‘Grigor, you’re turning into a grumpy old man.’

‘Yes, that’s very true, I’m pleased to say.’

I glanced over to the sea and noticed that he tide was going out.

 

Featured image credit: ‘Balchik’ generously made available by Balcon Del Mundo under a CC BY-SA 2.0 licence.

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