History of Gravediggers (Grobari Beograd)

The beginning of Grobari movement as a supporters group is closely associated with the year 1945. Simultaneously with newly-founded Football Club Partizan, its birth is followed with the inception of its first supporters groups

The beginning of Grobari movement as a supporters group is closely associated with the year 1945. Simultaneously with newly-founded Football Club Partizan, its birth is followed with the inception of its first supporters groups. However, the beginning of 1950s saw the first proper groups of Grobari. Guys from Cukarica, Rakovica, Senjak and Topcider (parts of Belgrade) started gathering at the northern side of the JNA stadium, and the rest of the city parts occupied the southern side.

End of 1950s and the beginning of 1960s witnesses the first supporter’s flags, as well as the tendency for group gatherings at certain city places. The 1970s witnessed the expansion of the supporters group and the numerous novelties introduced, as the first songs, large flags … and the ‘official’ acceptance of Grobari/Gravediggers as the name for Partizan’s most loyal and staunchly followers. These years can be marked as the ‘birth’ of Grobari as an organized supporters group, group that devoted its life to the Partizan and its glory. Allegiance and devotion was confirmed with each of the game, even when Club was facing the slump of results. Even than, large crowd was to be seen on each of the Club’s games, supporting Partizan and its players, giving fanatical support and love to the Club … unconditionally!

Visits to Nis, Novi Sad, Ljubljana… where huge number of supporters stood by their Club, filled the stadiums and in innumerous times proved its name and reputation, today are with pride and fervor spoken and taught to younger generations, the ones who recently entered the South side and are to become the future vigor of Grobari. The famous reputation as the most faithful supporters group Grobari ‘deserved’ after the game against Hajduk Split, played in 1976. That day witnessed something unbelievable and extraordinary happening at the JNA stadium. Losing 1-6 against its arch-rival did not shake the spirit, love and energy of each and every Grobar present at the stadium. Once again, they managed to stay great even when their club faced a terrible outcome. The amazing roar spread throughout the stadium … without stopping the song of Grobari kept rising and rising … and when Partizan scored its only goal that evening, the JNA stadium ‘exploded’ like a volcano. End of the game, 1-6, and still … tremendous ovations, song and applause for our players. From that day, the unique ‘bond’ was found between players and supporters of Partizan, lasting throughout the years.

Coming years marked the total domination of Grobari, their superiority against other supporters groups and the expansion of the group, in its number, organization and actions. Eighties! It was the period which witnessed the new generation of Grobari on the scene. Young, tough and full of never-ending energy, they brought new imagination and style to the Grobari movement. They saw each and every game as a chance to prove their faithfulness, their might and craziness. In large groups, they followed Partizan everywhere. Every time, every new game away was another little ‘war’ to them, where they eagerly waited for confrontation with the opposite side. Simply, it was a pure avante garde of that time, a prototype of everything that will be the symbol and trademark of the ultra supporter group, throughout the football world. Each and every city, place, stadium … fully and clearly remembers Kaznena Ekspedicija (Punishment Expedition). Its slogan: Do groba uz Partizan (With Partizan to the Grave) … was attested and reinforced in each and every situation. Their domination lasted for many years, and what’s even more remarkable is that this generation never really left the kop. The title and character of the most loyal and extreme fan organization was impressively built right through this period. The one quality crucial to this appearance was the unique ‘inner craziness’ that was possessed by each and every Grobar, each of them ‘infected’ by the energy and spirit found at the South side.

That specific way of support, opposite to all the typical and traditional of that time, culminated in the early 1980s with the new generation present. It brought to the fore the rule “It’s important to be the craziest!” At the stand, the madness was explored through anarchical yet very loud way of support … and final result mirrored in the ‘viciousness’, followed by a famous English song “Here We Go” (South incorrectly interpreted this as “Every Go”). Together with the already famous fanaticism and unlimited devotion to the black-white colours, this contributed to the fact that their greatest moments happened when Partizan faced hardest moments at the pitch.

Outside the stadium, ‘madness’ resulted in great range of supporters-hooligans’ accomplishments, something that other domestic supporters groups could only dream about. Captivation of the supporters from Split in the ‘Palas’ hotel (1981), destroyed city of Vinkovci (together with the residents of the same, 1982/83), “supporters night of terror” in Sid (1985), demolished stadium in maksimir – Zagreb (1990), fight at the marakana pitch with old customers, gypsies (we know what they get as OUR customers) … are some of the situations that proved the correctness of the slogan “Mi smo Grobari, najjaci smo, najjaci!” (We are Grobari, we are the strongest!). This irrational, ‘mad’ moment so recognizable to Grobari, as the greatest and most devoted supporters … was often an obstacle to some more organized ways of support (like large choreography at the stadium).

Yet, the vociferous scream, in innumerous situations melted everything and everybody facing Partizan, carrying the team to amazing triumphs: remember the return leg against QPR (May 1984), game against Dinamo (May 1983) when Partizan thanks to Grobari reached for the league title (2:2 at the end after 0:2 at the half time). Or else the 20 minute ‘eruption’ of South side in one of the city derbies (1990s). The ambiance before, during and after all these games, in which Grobari were writing the history…with their voices, hands, often fists! The history epitomized in one sentence “Only Grobari can do that!

 

After a short break, new generations of the nineties, with open guard and huge enthusiasm, followed the ‘footsteps of fame’ of their older ‘comrades’. However, the destruction of Yugoslavia limited the space and opportunity to prove their prominence and supremacy in the ultra-fan world.

After a short break, new generations of the nineties, with open guard and huge enthusiasm, followed the ‘footsteps of fame’ of their older ‘comrades’. However, the destruction of Yugoslavia limited the space and opportunity to prove their prominence and supremacy in the ultra-fan world. The nineties brought to the fore the new generation of Grobari, which followed the way described crudely as ‘With Partizan to the Grave’. The war years did unfortunately claimed its price, impeding the group to express all its greatness, as well as the fact that a great number of Grobari went to war following some higher ideals and believes. They returned full of bitterness and remorse, being betrayed and disappointed with that they went through and what they encountered in their struggle.Some of our brothers never returned, and are forever remembered by their Grobari brothers.

After the end of the war period, new generations starting to fill the South side of the stadium. With same zeal, they followed the Club and provided important energy for the group’s expansion. This was achieved within the environment in which Club faced terrible spell of results, while the structure of the Club was further weakened by the disastrous handling of the Club’s affairs by the current management. Yet, the love for the Club could not be dented, which was demonstrated in numerous times … in each game that Partizan played, in every street, stand or city where Grobari faced the opposition … Yet … The weakening of the domestic league, economic hardship and social tensions all influenced the decrease in number of people following the Club, the ones ready to be there and support the team in each encounter. However, the energy and zeal clearly possessed within the group injected the new lease of life to Grobari.

Those years marked the total domination of Grobari when basketball games are in question, often portrayed as the best and the most loyal basketball audience. If we can agree that football games against Hajduk (1976) and QPR (1984) are the Bibles of Grobari movement, I will dare to add the game against Maccabi (Israel) as the basketball’s equivalent. Losing the game, and losing heavily (the difference was 20 points), triggered the craziness and affection for the Club so typical and unique for Grobari. The mad song and support, which relentlessly continued for 30 minutes after the conclusion of the match, forced the players to return twice from their changing rooms and bow to something so rare in today’s sport.

 

The wins were achieved in many derbies, where we faced our greatest rival. In those years, the game witnessed the South side covered in enemy’s flags and banners, taken in direct confrontations before the matches. As well, the song and support from the South continuously blew away the song coming from the opposite side. Still, the years proceeding witnessed the darkest period in the history of Grobari.

The constant attempts of the FC’s management to divide supporters, turn them against each other … finally produced results. They tossed the seed of hostility, hoping that through the supporters’ disunity they can grip the only force able to dismantle the criminal structure within the Club … Grobari. Already in that moment, the diverse character of the group brought to the front two fractions of Grobari … the younger and more extreme one, founded within the South Front fraction (established in 1999) and the part of the group mainly consisting of older Grobari. The South Front stressed its principles calling for completely independent and self-supported organization, a definite break from the management’s grip and support. The older Grobari, many of them well-known legends within the movement, thought that the future will be brighter if the links are preserved.

The seed of discord was there, only to influence the complete confrontation between two sides. South Front, the large section of Partizan’s supporters, stopped its attendance of the games and influenced many young and urban fans, future foundation of Grobari. One and all saw this as the calamity, all but the Club’s management, who was now free to pursue its financial mismanagement and obliteration of the Club. Three years passed … South Front standing on the other side, separated in every way from the rest of Grobari, who continued its support from the South side (numbers drastically and continuously decreasing in each and every game).

Grobari realized that the group cannot function in such manner, that future and existence of Grobari as the organized supporters group is in question … and once again brothers stood by next to each other, again united, again as one, strong and proud. South was once again the melting-pot of all that Grobari represent, their love, honor and devotion, with new fanaticism and devotion brought about by the positive developments. The expansion once again became order of the day for Grobari.

The first half of the season witnessed some awesome displays of support for black-white colours, games in which Grobari showed that the greatness is still there, indestructible. Yet, the rotten within the Club perceived this as threat, and our new vigor compelled them to go for the final blow to the group. The result…everything that is a part of the supporters way of life and action, allowed everywhere in the sport’s world, was denied to Grobari. No banners, flags, drums were acceptable whatsoever, the pyrotechnics could be just dreamt of. Yet, our prominence was shown once again! Facing the offensive, hassle and restrictions, Grobari managed to put the onslaught aside and for the sake of the Club (who aimed for the Champions League) give their total support to the team in these critical games. As always, our commitment and dedication failed to find the reciprocity within the Club, once again betraying all agreed before.

The final decision was made, which placed Grobari on the road for their greatest struggle … boycott of the Club’s management and all the FC’ games. The demands of our protest listed the removal of the Club’s management, with no exceptions whatsoever and no delay. Twenty years of the systematic annihilation of the Club are still not sufficient for the gang who perceive the Club merely as the lucrative business for themselves and their personal accounts. The boycott was a natural outcome, combined with the massive protests outside the stadium. Again, Grobari achieved something that no group from here managed … the whole season we stayed away from the football games, and managed to keep the South stand empty in all the matches played. This feat was maintained even in the great derby against red star, act which proved the support for our cause as well as the commitment and loyalty of each and every Grobar.

The organized support continued in other sports, supporting our Club in its attempts for trophies. Our long and celebrated history never witnessed more difficult task facing the Grobari movement. The task and mission to eliminate the rotten from our only Club…today when we are far away from our stand yet so much with the Club. The task that we all believe will be achieved, sooner or later. Once again, the song and roar will spread from the South side, the army of faithful supporters returning to the place so sacred to them. Ready to give everything for the Club, their devotion is the pledge for the ultimate triumph in this fight.

PODIJELI