the pictures above for a review of the 70s, 80s, 00s and the
1990 and lo
and behold, the lovely people at JRT (supportive but not very smiley)
granted us the same access as Swiss TV had the year before – fantastic!
It was a late decision to go though, so we couldn’t get a direct flight
to Zagreb. Instead, we flew to Ljubljana and took a hair-raising
bus ride across country to Zagreb. In itself, this journey was very educational, as I
got to learn that Slovenia and Croatia like to fly different
flags and that there seemed to be a lot of tanks about on the journey. A
sign of devastating things to follow of course, but there were no sign of
real problems just then.
lot of walking was required at the Lisinski Hall in Zagreb – up and down stairs
from the hall to the press conference room. The in-venue catering prices
were way above the prices in the rest of Zagreb, which seemed a little unfair, but we managed to eat
well and keep the strength up for those staircases…. A fun time was had
once again with lots of parties to attend and new people to meet. In fact,
I made some new life-long friends in Zagreb (hey Bert, hey Fredrik!).
Tajĉi played to character the whole time and was really lovely. We
took bets on whether we could make Azucar Moreno smile.
The UK, Icelandic, Dutch and
Danish performers were really chatty and fun to spend time with. And
meeting Ketil Stokkan and Rita was a particular buzz for me.It was interesting to see who enjoyed taking advantage of the free
bars too…. Oh and the Eurocat was everywhere – rather annoyingly, even
as a cake!
some reason, the hotel in Zagreb stays particularly vivid in my memories – the Dubrovnik – a smart steel and
glass building which stood out amongst the historic structures and squares
of the city. More education for a fellow travelling eurofan who asked for
chips with his chicken kiev
and received a plateful of crisps instead… Oh Brian!
- Brit Lads, Azucar Moreno try to smile, Tajči sees double and meets
Welsh Emma, Joelle with that Cake, Maywood style, Rita and Ketil and happy
4th Placed Icelanders
was a year out for me – a house purchase meant it was simply
unaffordable and I thought that maybe the end had come and it was time to
hang up my Eurovision golden boots. So, a TV-viewer again, I enjoyed the
show for the first time in my new home. I was convinced that it was Spain’s year and sat on the
edge of my seat for most of the show, expecting something to go wrong. The
hosts seemed the worst organised ever. Toto in particular seemed to like
the sound of his own voice and also seemed to think that the whole of Europe spoke, or at least
understood, Italian. Not the best show ever, but exciting voting and an
apparent tie, with Sweden victorious after the first use of the highest
12s 10s 10s rule….. Spain a respectable 4th….
to Sweden in 1992 then…
1992 Contest was actually one of the most enjoyable ever. The Swedes had
pitched everything just right and a good group of fans had made the trip,
plus some new friends were made. Not least among these was the delightful
Daisy Auvrey, the amazing Evridiki and the wonderful Linda Martin. Two of
the 3 are now Facebook friends too (oops, jumping ahead there, not even
any internet back then). Fredrik really looked after me though and a great
week was had by all. Rehearsals were slick, parties were plentiful and
even Michael Ball was surprisingly friendly to “we mere fans”…. Tony
Wegas and Dina from Portugal were proving to be real
characters too and Carola was a little elusive and a little on the
superstar side….. I recall a night in a karaoke bar too, another first
for me… a very cosy space with Christer Björkmann and others giving
renditions of various hits of the day. Surreal!
Tony Wegas and the Icelandic
Girls, Extra Nena, Gary meets Tony and Evridiki
does Karaoke, Mary and Rose, Michael Ball says hi, Dina goes a little
crazy and the amazing Mia Martini oozes class
of the most impressive things after the show was that in the time it took
us to take the short walk from the venue to the after show party, the
local newspaper had been printed with the results and we were handed a
copy on the door. Now, that’s efficient!
after-show party turned out to be one of the longest nights partying at
Eurovision ever (well, until Moscow 2009, oh there I go jumping ahead
again!). Back in 1992, some new friends (Aaron and Kevin) and I had become
close (well, as close as you can in a few days at Eurovision) with
Evridiki, Mary Spiteri and Linda Martin (oh and Gary, Linda’s
hairdresser). Kevin suggested we head to the hotel where we’d attended
an Irish party during the week as Linda Martin (the winner, no less!) was
planning a private celebration and Kevin had been told about it for us.
This was all a bit strange, but after heading to the hotel and finding no
party in the bar, Kevin seemed to know the right room numbers to check. We
knocked on the door and were promptly invited in! There was Linda, Gary
the hairdresser, some RTE people,Johnny
Logan and the Trophy! To this day, I have no idea whose room it was, but
pictures with Johnny and the trophy prove this surreal event. What a
privilege … and what a long night!
Irish win and Hotel Surprise
almost missed the plane home the day after, but a perilously mad dash
through Malmö in a cab got me to the hydrofoil and then another dash the
other side to the Airport. I was still straightening myself out as I
boarded the plane! A plane which, by the way, is the only one I have ever
known to be advertised as departing early! A good job I was fit! I was,
Ireland had won… so, would I get to see Dublin again in 1993? Did
another adventure await me? A whole year to find out……
year passes quickly and the 1993 Contest approached. Not Dublin after all, but a tiny
place (according to the map) called Millstreet. I had originally believed
that Mill Street was a road in Dublin! Not so… this was a
small town (village?) with a show jumping arena near Killarney that was to
be transformed into a venue for Eurovision 1993. Ok, what’s the plan?
Ireland is just across the water from Wales and Millstreet was not an
easy place to access, I decided to take my car on a ferry from Swansea to Cork and have some
independence on the streets (and lanes) around Millstreet. This would
prove very useful especially as almost everyone was staying in Killarney
and that was quite a trek each day from hotel to venue. The organisers
kindly let me park in the official car park at the venue (to be fair this
was an open field and not many cars were using it), but warned me that
this wouldn’t be possible on Saturday… No surprise there!
was most definitely Eurovision in the country. Green fields, lots of bus
rides and parties in village halls and country hotels. The Green Glens
Arena had been turned into a hi-tech TV studio though and the fun was good
to go. Rehearsals followed the now familiar pattern with up to 40 minutes
per song followed by a press conference. A bar and restaurant were
available in a Marquee and in good Irish style, plenty of liquid was
Smiles from the Artists of Millstreet
of the most memorable events of Millstreet week was on a bus back to the
‘hotel town’ of Killarney where most people were staying. This
particular bus journey was after the Friday night rehearsal. At the back
of the bus,almost tucked
away, came the voice of Patrick Fiori singing ‘Mamma Corsica’ for all
on board… perfect! Even more perfect was the fact that I was sat
opposite Niamh Kavanagh and we persuaded the bus driver to play the
cassette (!) of ‘In Your Eyes’ which Niamh promptly joined in with. I
taped the whole thing and one day I’ll get it on to youtube. A really
special moment. Another was meeting Evridiki again, who had come along to
support this year’s Cypriot act (Zimboulakis & Van Beke).
special to Millstreet was the first participations of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. You rarely see such
emotional pride in being able to represent your country at Eurovision and
for most of us it was difficult to comprehend just what this meant to
these newly independent States.
puzzling aspect at one of Italy’s Press Conferences,
was when the press officer insisted that Italy did not take part in
Eurovision in 1980 (when of course they did with ‘Non So Che Darrei’).
I forget what this was in answer to, but it felt as if Italy was losing interest
already. I remember they sent a very small delegation with Mia Martini the
year before too. Sonia was flying the flag for the UK with calls of ‘It’s a
Showcase’ at every opportunity, but what a bubbly fun character she was.
Inga from Iceland also surprised us by
appearing in national dress at the Icelandic reception – not something
you see everyday! Another standout lady at Eurovision 1993 was the classy
Katri Helena from Finland, already a 70s Eurovision
icon to those of us old enough to remember… Anyway, I sat in the Arena
surrounded by very cool looking folk from Bosnia and watched Niahm storm
to victory at the end of some of the most exciting Eurovision voting
since, well, 1988….
another Irish win meant we were coming back to Ireland in 1994. Dublin this
time, but a new venue, The Point, and a bigger contest with Poland,
Russia, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Estonia and Lithuania. This also meant
for the first time, that 7 low scoring countries in recent years had to
drop out of the Contest. This was the way forward until 2004 when the Semi
Finals were finally introduced.
new eastern nations brought different styles, imagery and sounds to the
Contest – something which freshened it up, although many people missed
some of the missing ‘old Eurovision’ nations like Belgium, Denmark and
The Point was a great venue for Eurovision and the set was
breathtaking. The Irish were certainly bringing Eurovision forward, as
they had done in 1988.
was also memorable for the number of party options that came with being
accredited. Apart from the impeccable Irish Government Reception, I also
recall a particularly wine-sodden Greek party, an amazing time with CatCat
and their Finnish Vodka and Finnish Beer event, then jumping into a cab to
make the first ever Russian Eurovision Reception, which we just could not
miss. The Taxi driver’s reaction when four of us jumped into his cab and
asked for the Russian Embassy, was priceless … ‘You guys ****ing
defecting?’ came the cry! It was a surreal occasion for us being guided
in via the back door of the Russian Embassy in Dublin to a very sedate
reception for the lovely Youddiph. Wow, Eurovision was certainly moving
- Bosnia, Portugal, Hungary, Finland, Cyprus, Spain, Russia and the UK
- CatCat - The Car!
almost had the first ever Eurovision disqualification at the 1994 contest.
The language rule was still in place, so every country had to sing in one
of their nation’s languages. At the Saturday afternoon rehearsal before
the Final – the one that the juries hear to familiarise themselves with
the songs – Edyta from Poland sang her song ‘To Nie
Ja’ in English….. There were gasps of ‘what will happen’ and
complaints made by some delegations that this gave Poland an advantage. There was
talk of a disqualification. That did not happen however and Edyta stormed
to 2nd place with the POLISH version on Saturday night.
(this time for me, disappointing) Irish win meant we would probably be
coming to Dublin again in 1995. Sure
enough RTE picked Dublin and the same venue as for the 1994 Contest. Although we had
loved The Point in 1994, this year it did all feel a little déjà vu…
This may be the reason that little stands out from that year as a
different story to tell. It all passed very nicely, the presentation (as
the 40th Eurovision) gave a nice retrospective, the UK sent a
progressive rap sound which made it all feel a bit cooler this year,
Russia sent the tallest man ever seen at Eurovision (surely!)in the guise
of Phillip Kirkorov, but there wasn’t a spark of excitement as in other
years. To top it off, the Norwegian winner could easily have been an Irish
entry, so we were all beginning to feel that Eurovision had hit a bit of a
lull. If only Slovenia, Cyprus or the UK had won….
- Brit Lads, Love City Groove, Duo Datz, Philip Kirorov, Alex Panayi, Jan
Johanson, Darja Svajger, Liora
would be the last year I would try for accreditation for some time, but as
it was in Norway, I was keen to finally visit this interesting nation, so
often the recipient of ‘null points’ and now a winner 2 times over…
It was also a sad time for me, as my nana, who watched Eurovision with me
a lot as a young lad, passed away at the ripe old age of 93, but never to
be forgotten. This all happened close to Eurovision week, so I delayed my
travel plans and only arrived in Oslo midweek. Would I be in the mood for Eurovision? Well,
Gina G had brought us our best chance in years and I was prepared to enjoy
a UK win… perhaps… Some
new innovations like the virtual scoreboard and the 3 stage position
options made this Contest a little different. If it wasn’t to be the UK, I was banking on it
being Estonia, Slovenia or Croatia. Something I did not see
coming (apart from bitter cold and the extortionate price of beer in Oslo!) was yet another Irish
win. Not just the fact that we may be going to Dublin again, but the fact the
winning music style was beginning to become too fixed.
Oslo 1996 was also the Contest
where I met Mr Andrew Cross, who was about to become my Eurovision travel
partner for years to come.
- Lisa from Belgium, Gina G, the long and the short of it from the
Netherlands, Maja Blagdan
from Greece, Brits Abroad, with Constantinos from Cyprus and with new
and Dublin and the Point – yet
again! I think I was becoming weary of Eurovision and wanted to step back
a little. The interest was still there but not enough to want to spend a
week on it again. So, with my new Eurovision travel buddy Andrew, I headed to Dublin for a long weekend. RTE
outdid themselves with the set and I recall 1997 being the first time we
went armed with a flag – a Hungarian one, courtesy of Andrew. Hungary had one of the better
songs this year and we hoped it may come in handy. It did, as we folded
into a Polish flag and an Italian flag as the evening went on.
didn’t have was a UK flag. What we hadn’t
expected, was a UK win! We had sat through the Friday night rehearsal and I was
expecting big things for Russia, Hungary, Turkey and Slovenia. But the UK walked it. We were
experiencing a UK win. Katrina and the
Waves gave the UK the first win since 1981.
We were amazed, bemused, but decided we needed to party! What a great
night. Andrew’s sister was also in Dublin and she managed to acquire passes for us into the
aftershow party. Despite no accreditation, it seemed we could still party
with the winners. I still recall lots of excited Brits, some over excited
Turks who were delighted at finishing 3rd and the Irish were
all happy as they hadn’t won again, but still finished a respectable 2nd.Now, what would the BBC do with the Contest in
in Cardiff, I was desperate for the
Contest to come to Wales. The Contest had already
been in London, Brighton, Harrogate and Edinburgh, so only Wales and Northern Ireland had so far missed out.
The local papers were championing Cardiff International Arena as the venue
and Cardiff (my city) made the
shortlist of 3 with Glasgow and Birmingham. I was totally gutted
when Birmingham was chosen and even more
so when the BBC decided to allocate
tickets on a lottery basis. I was still not ready to give a week of my now
very busy life to the Contest again (would I ever..? oh yes!) but really
wanted to be there, now it was finally in my own country – even if it
wasn’t in Cardiff.
Tickets via a draw… a
Eurovision Lottery !? what were the chances?! As it turned out for me, slim! I applied but
received only 2 tickets to the Saturday afternoon rehearsal. Gutted again!
However, I decided to drive up to Birmingham, watch the rehearsal and head back to Cardiff to watch on TV. This I
did and while I enjoyed the rehearsal I felt that the BBC produced one of the
dullest static sets that Eurovision had seen for decades – really
unimaginative and also provided one of the dullest presenters ever, but
that’s a personal opinion on a man that I feel has always been
over-rated. The only time I thought the set looked good was during Norway’s song ‘All I Ever
Wanted Was You’. Israel was a surprising winner
for me, as I didn’t feel that the vocals worked, but the song became a
big hit and the Transsexual Israeli winner was certainly one in the eye of
convention. I was happy that Eurovision was moving on again… but still
wished that Slovenia or Romania had won …Strangely I was offered a front row ticket as I was driving back to
Cardiff, but my M4 drive and evening were committed and I couldn’t turn back…. Who
knows, Guildo may have climbed all over me… eugh! No front row for me…
Jerusalem 1999 clashed with another
house move for me. Added to that was the fact that you just could not get
a ticket (unless perhaps with accreditation), so I had to sit this one out
altogether. I remember watching it on TV surrounded by boxes ready for the
move. Croatia (‘Marija Magdalena’)
was my big favourite to win with Iceland (‘All Out of Luck’) a
close second. Iceland did manage 2nd,
but it was Sweden who romped home to
victory again with a retro sounding belter of a song ‘Take Me To Your
Heaven’. This didn’t turn out to be as big a hit as I expected it to,
but as an Abba fan, I knew it would become a favourite for me.
A great touch at the end of the Contest too, when all the artists
performed ‘Hallelujah’ – Israel’s winner 20 years