Friday, 30 October 2009

EFW Oktoberfest 2009 - Day 3 Match 4

Willem, it was really something

Willem II 4-1 Heerenveen (25:10:09)

- click on photos to enlarge image -

The last day of the EFW Oktoberfest and finally our hosts in Tilburg (Willem II) were playing at home. It was with a heavy heart that we checked out of the 1 FIFA star rated 'Hotel Central Tilburg' on the morning of the match. That was one place we'd all grown very fond of. Iain Ferguson best summed up the shower situation when he said "I turned on the hot tap which was too hot, then I switched on the cold and the tap came off in my hand."

There looked to be a few casualties within the EFW team as we met up to head to the Koning Willem II Stadion. A few of the German boys had been in the Grass Factory for some morning Dutch treats and the previous nights marathon drinking session looked to have taken its toll on some of the older lads.

Not to fear though, as soon as we stepped into the superb bar inside the stadium and set about tackling a battleships worth of Jupiler lager, the colour returned to our collective cheeks. In return for providing us with the weekend funnies, I taught Hans from Antwerp and the youngest of the FGR Pearchy's (Rich) how to dance.

Hans and Richy Pearch polish their new dancing skills.

Willem II and EFW have a common enemy, namely, NAC Breda. They are the biggest rivals of the King's Army and didn't endure themselves to us either by becoming the most difficult club we've ever had to deal with. Compare that to the delightful Kim Dijkstra in the Willem II ticket office who not only welcomed us with open arms but gave us a discount on our match tickets. Willem II 1-0 NAC Breda. I know who we've nailed our 'Tricolores' to!

My good friend Joris from the Doingthe116 website had arranged for EFW to feature in the club's Kingzine (fanzine). A double page spread I'll have you know and I thought I'd ticked the no publicity box (yeah, as if - Ed). With that feature in the bag and with this being the last day, the EFW team decided we'd go out with a bang, sing a few songs and P-A-R-T-Y.

Double page spread in the Kingzine.

The badge of honour.

The King and I.

Cheers mate! Danny and Joris

Greetings from Antwerp - Hans, Pieter, Danny, Steven and Pat.

However, the two teams trotted out onto the pitch in an eerie silence. As play got underway - aside from a ticker tape reception - there was no show of support amongst the home faithful. This was fairly frustrating because we had 30 odd lads behind the goal wanting to swing a fast shoe and sing a few ditties. What had happened!?

News then reached us that the home fans had organised this period of silence in a protest against the club's chairman. He'd led Willem II from a Champions League place in 1999 to near financial ruin. Evidently, he'd blown the budget on a plush new stand with marvellous behind the scenes facilities which aren't of too much interest or help to the common fan. Word on the street was that if Willem II had of lost this match, there might have been some unsavoury incidents afterwards.

The atmosphere must have manifested itself onto the pitch. I think the politest way to describe the first half would be 'cagey'. It was in actual fact pretty turgid. The only thing to save us from plucking our feathers out in boredom was a Gordon Banksesque save from Aerts the Willem II keeper to deny Heerenveen the opener.

Ticker tape but muted welcome.

Heerenveen striker in not deadly from a yard shock (he missed).

FGR lads Keith, Andy, Shep, Witty & Rich.

Nobody in the ground could have foreseen what was to happen in the 2nd half. With the protest over, noise (and lots of it) replaced the silence. With the fans behind them, the home side started to tear their opponents to shreds. Sergio Zijler was the main instigator alongside the on loan Jan-Arie van der Heijden. Hereenveen collapsed and their players plus 40 supporters had no answer, as eventually, it began to rain goals.

By now the beers were flowing in the stands and the Pearchy (chuckle) brothers from Forest Green Rovers had upped their gags to one a minute. As if by magic, a delightful rainbow over the old skool floodlights also appeared. We got our party in the end. Goals from Zijler, Boutahar and a brace from Demouge sealed an emphatic second half performance. Papadopulos did reply for Hereenveen but that was all they had to offer in terms of resistance. 4-1.

Is that all you take away?

As if by magic..

On the pitch!? Maybe not this time eh!

He is loving this!

And so the curtain came down on the inaugural EFW Oktoberfest. Four games, three days, two countries, thirty three people, thirteen goals, forty seven beers each, four sausages, sixteen Dutch meatballs and ten hours sleep. Never could I have wished for a better start to what could now become an annual event. Hungary for more next year? Then Budapest it is. That my friends was entertainment.

For an award winning video from the weekend CLICK ME

For more photos from the day CLICK ME

Also on this trip

FC Den Bosch v Fortuna Sittard
Rot-Weiss Essen v Preußen Münster
Vitesse Arnhem v Heracles Alemlo

Still want more? Then head to the European Football Weekends Facebook Group.

Thanks for coming!

- Please feel free to comment below -

Thursday, 29 October 2009

EFW Oktoberfest 2009 - Day 2 Match 3

Sacken ze Boarden

Vitesse Arnhem 0-2 Heracles Almelo (24:10:09)

- click photos to enlarge image -

Twenty minutes after the full time whistle at Rot-Weiss Essen in Germany, we were back on board the EFW coach and heading towards Arnhem in the Netherlands. By now - half way through day 2 of Oktoberfest - pleasantries had been taken care of and now funnies and ritual mickey taking was the order of the day. Boys will be boys.

The beer situation on the coach was impeccably well handled by Danny (distribution manager) and Big Deaks (financial guru) and we had with us on board 29 other entertainment managers. All bar one of the lads had tucked into currywurst or similar at the Essen game. One chap however, who can't be named for legal reasons, tucked into some Sushi on the coach that his wife had lovingly prepared for him.

After an hour or so we pitched up at what looked liked Europe's biggest bingo hall. The Gelredome is home to Vitesse Arnhem FC, a retractable roof, convertible pitch (no really), its own climate control system (wit-wheel), pop concerts and moreover - a very acceptable pre-match drinking tavern. It came complete with dart boards, football memorabilia and a new Dutch currency 'MUNTS'. Munts = tokens and are used in and around the stadium instead of money. You do however have to use money to buy munts. We'll move on shall we?

The EFW team

The 1 Munt shop.

Actual Munts

Welcome to the Gala Bingo

The pitch (pitch!) slides out of the stadium to here.

I'll just pick up my match tickets from these two...

.....have a little walk on the pitch..

....then join the lads in the Vitesse pub. What's not to like!?

Inside the "Netherlands' largest Theatre" the concourses were a shrine to the many stars who'd graced the hallowed turf. Not footballers though. We had to endure thirty foot images of Bono and the boys, Madge, By Jovi, Backstreet Boys, Justin Trousersnake etc etc. Also present were little kiosks selling actual healthy food, thus making this the only stadium in Europe whereby you could fill up on your recommended five portions of fruit and veg.

Most of the lads on the trip supported teams in the nether regions of the football pyramid. Maybe as a result of this we weren't used to things being so shiny and clean. One onlooker (Big Deaks) thought he'd been corporately programmed on entrance to cheer at the correct moments during the match. With the roof ON (during the match) it all felt somehow wrong, manufactured even. I normally like to put a positive spin on things on these pages but it was too bright inside and I for one prefer my football to be outdoors.

Other comments I overheard during the match: "It's like watching football in your living room" (Pearchy), "It feels sterile" (Shep), "Who wants a beer?" (Greeno), "Can we buy sushi in here?" (don't even think about naming him - legal Ed), "Sacken ze Boarden" (Pearchy), "I should have been in the Backstreet Boys" (Hans), "Have you seen Euro Football Weekends on the big scoreboard?" (Nasher). Yes, Nash Dog had texted the stadium and got his text welcoming 'Euro Football Weekends' displayed at five minutes intervals on the huge electronic scoreboards at each end of the ground. Actually, it wasn't so bad!

Hello Euro Football Weekends!

Big Deaks plays FIFA 2009

Jumpers for goalposts.

During half time we exchanged the remaining 'munts' for beers and signed up Bono, The Edge and Madonna for the EFW Hall of Fame by planting logos on their head/nose/eyes. We then set Pearchy an EFW 'Mission Impossible' to land a logo on the beak of the Vito; the Vitesse Arnhem mascot. Needless to say he passed with flying colours.

Bono nose (sic) his stuff.

Eye eye Madge.

Vito waiting for his big moment.

When Vito met Pearchy.

You don't want me to drone on about the actual match do you? I'll just say that Vitesse Arnhem were toothless up front and very poor in general. Heracles Almelo played the perfect away tactics; soaking up what the home side didn't have to offer and popping a couple of goals in willy nilly when they fancied. 0-2. Well played and good luck to them.

Arty home end.

Non arty home end.

Roof on and away following in corner. Click to enlarge their support.

It was open mic night on the coach back to Tilburg after the game and the beers, songs and funnies were now in full flow. Shy and retiring* (game a day) John treated us to the scores around Europe in the style of James Alexander Gordon. Then, next up Young Philip Graystone made a tremendous speech before the star of the weekend stepped up to the plate and produced twenty minutes of comedy genius. Hans of Antwerp, nobody will forget that mate - GOLD, always believe in your soul! As we are a family programme, I can't repeat his act but I think there are videos knocking about on the EFW Facebook site and You Tube. Check it out.

Hans at the front of the coach performing comedy miracles.

King William, our driver who had performed exceptionally well during our day, received a very large tip from the assembled happy customers. In return he dropped us off back in the centre of Tilburg for another night of mirth and hilarity in the fine public houses on offer. Fair play to the Barnet lads for being the last to leave the pub at whatever unearthly hour that was.

My personal fear of travelling to football by coach had been largely eradicated. This was thanks in the main to the lads on board, none of whom I hope will forget this day in a hurry. It took a bit of organising but it was worth it. The only way the day could have gotten any better was if news had filtered through on the wires that EFW sponsored Sam Crabb had notched the winner for Lewes FC in their first win of the season. He had of course - there is a God. To be continued.......

For more photos from the day CLICK ME

For an excellent video from the trip CLICK ME

Also on this trip:

FC Den Bosch v Fortuna Sittard
Rot-Weiss Essen v Preußen Münster
Willem II v Heerenveen

Still want more? Then head to the European Football Weekends Facebook Group.

- feel free to comment below -

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Rot-Weiss Essen

Kick in the Polloks

Rot-Weiss Essen 1-1 Preußen Münster (24:10:09)

- click on photos to enlarge image -

We had to deal with a swift blow to the body two weeks prior to this trip. A combination of NAC Breda, RKC Waalwijk, safety liaison officers and the Dutch police held a meeting in which they concluded that we (32 members of EFW) were a security threat. Therefore they somewhat laughably decided to deny us tickets for the NAC v RKC match that we'd been planning on attending.

So, thinking quickly, I decided to book up a coach and try and tackle the problem head on. Firstly, we'd travel to Essen in Germany and then onto Arnhem in the Netherlands for two games in one day in two different countries. Quite why I didn't do that in the first place, I'll never know. Especially as Rot-Weiss Essen appeared to tick every box going when it comes to the football FAN experience.

Appropriately enough - as we left from Tilburg - our coach driver for the day was named King William. William in that that was his name and King in that he'd stocked the coach full of cold beer for the day. We'd not had much sleep from the previous nights shenanigans, so it was a fine effort that we only departed 10 minutes later than the advertised 10am - club fine for Andy Walker.

The Belgian lads were the first to tuck into the onboard entertainment (beer) and the rest of the coach swiftly followed suit. King William was in for a bumper pay day.

En route to Essen. We won't be pulling off just yet, 56k to go lads.

I'd arranged to meet up with Roland Sauskat in Essen. He works for the AWO FAN-Projekt and as soon as he boarded our coach became my instant hero for a number of reasons. BISH: he handed over a bag full of RWE memorabilia (thanks mate) and BOSH: as we pulled up at the ground we were met by around twelve van loads of riot police and.....erm Roland....pal...this wasn't in the script.

As legends do, Roland took this all in his stride. Like Obi-Wan Kenobi he cast a Jedi spell on the police with a waving of his fingers "These are not the hooligans you are looking for, they can go about their business, move along...move along". And, with that, we were escorted through the police cordon at a rate of knots. Our coach went one way (to a safe parking spot) and we went the other (to the pub in the ground, above the club shop). And relax.

Roland 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' Sauskat and I.

That's Christmas presents sorted.

Inside the FAN-bar. Our barmaid for the day.

Despite being effectively a regional match in the German Fourth Division this had a big game feel to it. There is some history between the two teams. On the last matchday of the 2001/02 season, Essen played away in Münster. Some RWE supporters paid a visit to the local museum and somehow managed to waltz off with the city's famous sword. Just to rub it in they stuck it up for sale on a fan forum which alerted both the police and the press. Naughty but nice.

Back in the pre-match pub the 32 of us mixed with the locals and enjoyed the rather splendid service (nod to the lady delivering us beer at regular intervals). We heard about the RWE friendship with Werder Bremen and the rivalry with Sch*lke 04, Rot-Weiss Oberhausen and far too many others to mention.

Sadly - upon entering the ground - the first thing I had to report was the fact that there had been a robbery. Someone had stolen one of the stands and (more alarmingly) one of the floodlights - the first ever floodies in Germany no less. Not to worry though, the three stands that remained were rocking. The party was in full swing helped by a tremendous away following from Münster. The crowd of 10,022 was comfortably the biggest of the season. Pleasingly, topping the 10k mark by virtue of 32 members of the EFW team present.

Essen's current 'Roy of the Rovers' is Sascha Mölders. With seven goals in his last eight games he was the man and it was also he who was stoking up the atmosphere by winding up the vociferous home support. It has to be said he spent more time doing that than showing us his skills during a tepid first half performance. Cometh the hour though and cometh the Mölders as they (probably don't) say in these parts. Just after half time he notched the opening goal, sending the George Michael Stadium into raptures. That and a bout of spontaneous mooning to the fairly unhappy away contingent.

Deep into injury time and with Big Deaks cajoled into helping the ultras with their large flag display - Essen were delivered a swift kick to the Polloks. Wojciech Pollok who'd not long been on as a sub, popped in a 93rd equaliser for Münster with the very last kick of the game - ouch! You'd have thought they'd won the World Cup Final itself they way they celebrated. We'd all have done the same though and no mistake.

The George Michael Stadium (journalistic licence, tick - Ed).

Münster to the left, Essen to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.

Right then, shot anyone!? I think there is something missing in their wall...

....that's Wissing, not missing you fool. Click to enlarge (very weak) gag.

24 beers please bartender.

Don't mind if I do.

We returned to the EFW coach and thanked Roland and Essen for their splendid hospitality. Rot-Weiss Essen had ticked every box going: Huge banks of terracing (check), cheap as chips for a match ticket (8 Euros - check), no ban on beer (check), in fact - people walking around with jetpacks of beer in stadium (checkity-check), friendly welcome for EFW (check), brilliant atmosphere from both sets of fans (checkity-checkity-check-check-check). Full house.

When they've built their new stadium in a couple of years time - European Football Weekends will be returning to Essen. If you are thinking of going to a game in Germany you could do much worse. As for the now, we were off to Arnhem for our second game of the day. To be continued............

Ultra Big Deaks.

Crafty fag for security.

The oldest in Germany.

Impressive away support.

EFW on tour.

And finally....some action.

For more photos from the day CLICK ME

For a fantastic video of our trip CLICK ME

Also on this trip

FC Den Bosch v Fortuna Sittard
Vitesse Arnhem v Heracles Alemlo
Willem II v Heerenveen

Still want more? Then head to the European Football Weekends Facebook Group.

- feel free to comment below -