19th of August 1994 - 21st of August 1994
Sunderland - Millwall
score: 1-1 (45' min Rae 0-1, 52' min Don Goodman 1-1)
Wednesday the 17th of August 1994
For the first time ever on my way to England. And one to remember. We (Lenneke and me) had booked the Stena Line (night)ferry from Hook of Holland to Harwich. We departed Hook at 10 PM and arrival at Harwich was planned for 7 AM the next morning. There were very strong winds (8BF) and we were aware of that on the ferry. Lenneke had an idea. Let's go to the cinema. In the dark you won't feel anything because of the dark. Well, we had only seen the start credits when Nick asked if we could leave and try to find our beds. On our way to our cabin we were pushed from left to right but finally we found the correct number. And then try to get some sleep. The noise of the engines was very loud. I think we managed to get about three hours of sleep. At 6 AM a loud horn and a voice told us that Harwich was almost there and that it was time to have some breakfast.
Thursday the 18th of August 1994
We got on the first train that went up North and that train departed at 7.40. We had to switch trains at Peterborough where we got on the intercity to Newcastle. From there we had a slow train to Sunderland and then we had to search for the floodlights because we had to meet the president of the Supporters Association: George Forster. At the main entrance we mentioned his name and got the immediate reply: "the people from the Netherlands". We had to drop our bags and had to walk with Ernie Howey who took us on a tour at Roker Park. The first stop was the "trophy room". In there of course the "golden goal trophy" for Ian Porterfields goal in the 1973 Cup Final. It was valued for GBP 30.000,-. The original FA Cup was also there. Not behind glass or with an alarm, but just on a shelf (too high to touch). Usually the winner gets a small replica, but because of the unique achievement that Sunderland had done, the could keep the original. We also got into the business seats in the Main Stand where we had good view and then down to the boot room and dressing rooms. From the dressing rooms through the tunnel on to the pitch. A great tour in a fantastic stadium. We thanked Ernie for this tour and when we left we bumped into the comlete squad who just got back from training. A bit shy I asked Gary Bennet for a photo and he was more used to this than I. We were sent to Roker Park Road where George Forsters Supporters home was situated. He welcomed us with open arms and we got tea and biscuits. He also took us to the guesthouse where we were booked for our three nights. It was Brendon Guesthouse very close to Roker Park and we were also got a warm welcome from mrs. Eileen Hughes. Of course she had to inform if we were married and because we were not if we were allowed to share one room. Of course we did. After we'd dropped our bags we went into city centre for an Italian restaurant and a pub. But it had been a long day and because of the three hours of sleep of the night before we went to bed early.
Friday the 19th of August 1994
We started off with a nice long walk along the coast and then into the city centre for some shopping. A lot of Hillegom-people also wanted a great red and white top. Well, they really liked that in the club shop. With GBP 260,00 of shirts and other Sunderland items we left again. After that we took the bus to Durham. We visited the Cathedral and Durham Castle. We also had a nice long walk along the river. What a lovely place Durham is. But the afternoon almost turned into the night and we had booked Lumley Castle for the night where we had a Medieval Banquet. We got on the bus from Durham to Chester-Le-Steet. It was almost like a private tour because it was just the two of us on the bus. We arrived a bit early so we had plenty of time to walk around the castle and the Lumley Castle golf-course. After that we had some tea in the castle and at 7 PM we had to be at the main entrance with all the other guests. Every party were loudly mentionted and escorted to their table. Also Nick and Lineker Elderbrowche. There were all long tables and we were on the same table with a Norwegian party. The first course arrived and it was a bowl of soup and large bread. But no spoon. You had to tear off some bread and put it in th bowl (dunk and suck it). The second course was a shell filled with mashed potatoes and a fish souffle. Course three was spare-ribs and the fourth course was a half-chicken with salad and jacked potatoes. The dessert was a traditional applefool and all of this without spoon, fork or knife. In between the courses there were performances on stage and next to the tables by medieval looking actors. At 11 PM it all was finished and we were picked up by a friend of George Forster who was taxi-driver. He would make a special deal for this ride, because George Forster thought it was way too expensive to book a regular taxi from Chester-Le-Street at that time. He took us safely back to Brendon guesthouse (of course after Nick got into the drivers seat first).
Saturday the 20th of August 1994
Matchday: Sunderland vs. Millwall. Before kick-off we were asked to go to George Forster's Supporters Association Office. He had arranged a meeting with Ian Todd. He's the chairman of the London and South England Supporters Branch where I am a member of. Because there's no Dutch branch they told me to be a member of this branch. At 2.30 we got into our seats in the Clockstand and at 3.00 time for kick-off. Sunderland were the better side, but it was Millwall that scored in injury time of the first half by a goal from Rae. That was disappointing. Sunderland started well again in the second half and seven minutes into the second half the 1-1 was in the net. It was (there's only one) Don Goodman who scored. After the 1-1 both teams didn't create that much. But two minutes from the end Sunderland had goalkeeper Tony Norman to thank for a great save. Full time 1-1. After the game we went back to George Forster and two ladies who were also in because of a busy matchday. We got more tea and biscuits and talked about typical Dutch things like giving tips that is very unusual in England (one of the ladies came up with the line "give the man 50 pence and he thinks it's his birthday"). One of the ladies took us by car to Seaburn where we could get something to eat and drink We found a nice restaurant and after that back to the guesthouse because we had to wake up early the next day. We had to get the train for three more days England, but we would stay for that three nights in York....
But after this first trip Sunderland was in my blood and would never ever disappear again.
(written by Nick)