LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Dinamo Bucharest

Homeless, insolvent and relegated after a century

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

The capital’s second club, Dinamo Bucharest were once top dogs in Romania at certain times. Now is not one of them – although Dinamo achieved promotion in 2023 against all the odds, after a first-ever relegation the year before.

At their height in the early 1980s, however, the Red Dogs monopolised the championship and reached the semi-final of the European Cup.

As representatives of the state police, the Securitate, Dinamo were favoured under the Ceaușescu regime. With eternal rivals Steaua the football arm of the police, derby day under Communism had connotations that it didn’t have in the West.

Steaua though, won more titles and, most of all, brought home the European Cup.

Dinamo Stadium/Peterjon Cresswell

Today Dinamo stand at a crossroads. Their Communist-era Dinamo Stadium requires modernisation – in 2013-14 the club moved its home games to the National Arena. Still owned by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the stadium’s fate may be a political decision as well as an economic one.

Given Dinamo’s recent relegation battles and a campaign in Liga II in 2022-23, only the bigger fixtures, against either current iteration of arch enemy Steaua, are played at the National Arena. Home fixtures are otherwise staged at the rugby ground right by the Arcul de Triumf in the city centre, about 2km north-west of Dinamo’s classic stadium by Ștefan cel Mare metro station.

Dinamo were formed by the merger of Unirea Tricolor and Ciocanul (‘Hammer’) Bucharest in 1948. Their stadium was built three years afterwards.

With help from the political whims of the day, Dinamo managed to put together championship runs at the beginning of each decade, starting with the five-title run in the 1960s. Star names such as Cornel Dinu and Florea Dumitrache gave decent performances for club and country against the likes of Bill Shankly’s Liverpool and Pelé’s Brazil in Mexico at the 1970 World Cup.

Dinamo Bucharest mural/Peterjon Cresswell

Goals by Dudu Georgescu marked the 1970s, while a rugged outfit under Dimitru (‘Nicușor’) Nicolae made effective progress in the 1980s. Despite Dinu’s retirement, Dinamo made it through to the semi-final of the European Cup in 1984, beating the holders Hamburg to get there. 

An early goal from Ian Rush silenced a hostile Dinamo crowd in the second leg – the previous game at Anfield had been marked by brutal, unpunished tackling by Graeme Souness.

An arguably better Dinamo side, featuring Ioan Andone, Daniel Timofte and Florin Răducioiu, reached the same stage of the Cup-Winners’ Cup in 1990. Anderlecht were not as brutal but still did the job.

Dinamo Stadium/Peterjon Cresswell

The only European awards came with the bizarre manipulation of domestic goalscoring feats to win the Golden Boot. After Georgescu’s triumph, Rodion Cămătaru got nearly half his total in the last six games of the 1986-87 season.

Post-Ceaușescu, Dinamo temporarily reverted to their former name of Unirea Tricolor but old ties to ministerial bodies meant easy profits on quick foreign transfers – the European run of 1990 has not been repeated.

Quality coaches – particularly old boys Cornel Dinu, Ioan Andone – brought domestic success but star players, most notably Adrian Mutu, haven’t stayed. Occasional results, such as the 5-1 mauling of Everton in the UEFA Cup of 2005-06, stand out – but Dinamo last won the title since 2007.

The recent ups and downs have seen the club go through at least two insolvencies and a first-ever relegation in 2022. The Red Dogs scraped into the promotion play-offs in Liga II on goal difference, and then demolished Argeș Pitești 6-1 in front of 25,000 at the National Arena.

Stadium Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

The 15,000-capacity Stadionul Dinamo looks pretty much as it did when it opened in 1952 – except that it doesn’t stage any football matches.

Conveniently located, close to Ștefan cel Mare metro station a short hop from the Gara de Nord, Dinamo’s stadium could be the envy of all in Bucharest. The cost of renovating it, effectively rebuilding it, coupled with the bureaucracy involved in doing so – it’s still in State hands – forced Dinamo to play their 2013-14 home games at the National Arena.

While their current needs relatively modest, Dinamo have not moved back – the club shop and themed bar are still in place though not in use. Note also the statue of Dinamo star Cătălin Hîldan, who died on the pitch in 2000 at the age of 24. The north, home end, Peluza Nord, has been named after him.

Currently, Dinamo play major fixtures at the National Arena but most home games at the national Arcul de Triumf rugby stadium alongside the triumphal arch in the city centre. A recent construction, unveiled in 2021, this 8,000-capacity multi-sports venue houses Romania’s national rugby side, regular competitors at the World Cup.

getting there

Going to the stadium – tips and timings

Dinamo’s Stadium is right by Ștefan cel Mare metro station, on the yellow line, two stops from Gara de Nord. Currently closed, this classic Communist bowl may not be around for much longer – a new stadium is currently being planned in the same Dinamo sports complex. 

Dinamo’s main fixtures are played in Romania’s showcase football stadium – see the National Arena for transport details. 

For games at the Arcul de Triumf rugby stadium, take tram 41 to Casin. Alternatively, metro station Aviatorilor on the M2 line is a 15min walk away, keeping the park to your right and the triumphal arch ahead of you. The ground is just behind.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

For the National Arena, use the kiosks behind the Peluza Nord. The cheapest seats in the Peluza Sud or Nord cost around 10 lei/€2, around 20-30 lei/€4-€6 charged in the sideline Tribuna Est/Vest. Transactions are cash-only and it’s probably wise to bring ID.

For the Arcul de Triumf rugby stadium, again pay on the day is the way, with ticket prices around the same and sold for cash only.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

While the Dinamo Fan Shop by the main entrance of the Dinamo Stadium is closed, the club has hired an outlet at the Rin Grand Hotel (Șos Vitan-Bârzești 7D), by the Complex Comercial Vitan-Bârzești with its own bus stop on route 102. 

Red merchandise will also be sold at stalls on match days at the National Arena and Arcul de Triumf rugby stadium.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

At the entrance to the Dinamo Stadium, sadly the Red Dogs bar is closed. The best option is the red-fronted Ursus mini market, a shop-cum-bar on the corner of Barbu Văcărescu/Șos Ștefan cel Mare. Across Barbu Văcărescu on the stadium side, la mama is a homely Romanian restaurant specialising in soups and fish, also serving Bucur blonda and Corona beers.

For details of bars for Dinamo’s major fixtures, such as Championssee National Arena. For the rugby stadium, the Bordo Caffe & Pub on main Aleea Primo Nebiolo is a favourite of rugby fans thanks to its hearty food and Heineken beer. Sport is also televised.

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