24th of July 2009 - 26th of July 2009
Benfica - Sunderland
score: 2-0 (32' min Cardozo (pen) 1-0, 55' min Pereira 2-0)
Atletico Madrid - Sunderland
score: 0-2 (45' min Kieran Richardson (pen) 0-1, 84' min Kieran Richardson 0-2)
1.30 PM. Five Hillegom Lads get together at Hillegom station for a long day out in Amsterdam. Pep, Peur, Friet, Nilis and Nick get on the train to Amsterdam and switch trains at Haarlem. From then on it is destination Amsterdam. We just got out of the train and at the first bar we meet Brian and Eileen. After the usual hugs and kisses we tell them that we have to meet Mark and Sam. They've just texted Nick that they're waiting at the Euro Bar right at the opposite of hotel Krasnapolsky. No problem. Brian and Eileen will walk with us in that direction. But Eileen has had surgery for 5 times on her ankle. Doctors told her that she wouldn't be able to walk until September. But Eileen is tough. She walks with us, supported by Brian.
At the Euro Bar we meet Mark and Sam outside. Time for a nice cold beer. But that's a pity. They serve....Bavaria. Well, just try one and then off Irish pub O'Reilly's. Nick thinks it will be busier there. But at O'Reilly's it's also very quiet. But we make it nice and comfortable ourselves. We've got a lot to talk about with Brian, Eileen, Mark and Sam. The pints are served quickly and after while there is a phonecall from Francis (Nick's brother in law). He is in the Netherlands for 2 weeks (from Vancouver, Cananda) and decided that he wanted to join us. He's on his way to Amsterdam and wonders in what pub we are. After Francis had arrived we have some more Guinness and then off to the Red Light District. From there we've got an easy connection by Metro to the ArenA. We make a short stop at Hakka. This is a very small Amsterdam pub. It is the pub where Pep and Tim stop before they go to see Ajax. We have a couple of vases there and then we head for the Metro. The conductor looks at us from about 7 meters to see if we stamp our tickets. Nick tells him that because they're English that he will stamp for everyone, because that's easier. But what the conductor can't see is that Nick stamps for everyone on the same ticket.......
We arrive early at the ArenA. At the big square it is full of Sunderland Supporters. We walk towards the away area. We should meet Guppio over there to complete the group. Pep gets into the Ajax area with his brother and friends and we get in line for the away stand. But this takes a long time. There is a lot of police and everyone get's searched. Then we have to climb the stairs. Wow, what a way up. Exhausted we arrive in the area and we see that the match has already started for 30 seconds....
And like we expected it turns out to be a traditional pre-season game. Not very good to watch. But we mustn't complain that much. At least we've got a chance to see Sunderland in action in the Netherlands. And the fans are great as usual. The rest of the stadium is almost empty. Tim feels almost embarrest about it. The two Sunderland stands are almost full and everywhere in the stadium there's more Sunderland supporters. So, hats off for the Sunderland supporters. Sunderland get a couple of chances and especially Kenwyne Jones should have got a free header at least on target, but Benfica wins 2-0. The got a penalty awarded for 1-0 which wasn't a penalty in my opinion.
After the match the Sunderland supporters head for the city centre. I agree. The Ajax supporters dissapoint us as well. We get the first Metro to the Red Light district. We got a text from Pep who'd like to stay in the ArenA for the Ajax match and texts us after the game to see where we are. Tim and Francis decide to get back to Hillegom/Lisse. We contact Brian and Eileen. They tell us they are at the Corso bar. So we're off to that bar as well. On the way we make a short stop at a pub called Old Wembley.
Finally we end up in the Corso bar. Brian and Eileen are there as well and more and more Sunderland supporters arrive. It get's nicer and some fans start singing, but the barman isn't impressed. The people outside love it and lots of photo's have been shot from outside. Around 1.00 AM Brian, Eileen, Mark and Sam decide it's time to leave. They head for their hotels and we stay for a short while. At 2.30 we decide that it's time to leave for us as well. Pep phones the disco taxi and he drives us to Hillegom.
Saturday the 25th of July
Around 4.00 PM I get a phonecall from Mark. He and Sam get on the train in Amsterdam to visit Hillegom. Brian and Eileen will arrive later (about two trains later). I get on my bike to the station to welcome Mark and Sam and we walk to the Kleine Beurs for a drink. We end up in the beergarden at the back to get in the sun. Mark and Sam are amazed. The whole beergarden is full of Englisch, Scottish and Irish people. Do there actually live Dutch people in Hillegom they were wondering... The atmosphere is good. We laugh, drink and talk. Jake (Claire and Johno's son) enjoys himself in the fountain and almost everyone gets a bit wet. An hour later another phonecall. Brian and Eileen get on the train to Hillegom from Haarlem. I give Friet a call to check if he can pick them up by car (he lives on the station road), so he can drive them to the Kleine Beurs (with Eileens ankle problems). Eileen has had too much walk yesterday, so we have to treat her well today. Afcourse Friet offers them a ride (cheers matey) en Brian and Eileen enjoy the beergarden as well. Nilis arrives too. He was drunk again this morning, so time to get drunk for the 3rd time in 2 nights. After a while we miss Brian. He took a walk in Hillegom and arrives with a shopping bag full of chocolate (Pierre). He feels very happy. He loves the village en the peace and quietness. Something you will never get in England, he says....
We finish our beers and then we walk to Mimo (Grand Café Massada). Mark is a big fan of shoarma and I promised to get him the best one....ever. We sit down and we get the menu. Nick explains some food on the menu in English, but Mark has decided quickly: "Hette kip, I absolutely love Hette Kip". What a surprise. Nick tries to talk him to have the best shoarma, but no chance. Sam is having a shoarma, so he can taste some of hers. Brian orders a saté and Eileen gets a Salmon with tagliatelle. They love it and it is more than enough. Mark keeps talking about his "hette kip", and does not regret his choice. At 9.00 PM we ask for the bill and walk to Murphy's Law for a tropical night with DJ Frido a.k.a. Hank the DJ.
At the door Rob and Zsi-Zsi wait for us. We all get a flowerchain and our English guests get a very special warm welcome. Friet is already playing some fine tunes in his cabin and leaves the tropical songs for just one Daydream beleiver. It gets more crowded. Pep, San, Jaime, Peur, Drew everyone is there. The beers keep coming in and Mark doesn't understand why there is everytime a new pint on the table. They decide to give some extra beer money for our kitty and they look more than happy. At 00.20 AM it is time for their taxi to the station. They have to get the last train. A shame, because Frido still has to play his best songs. But anyway, they are on time and Nick text to check if they've made it. When he gets the sign that they are in the last train, it's time for Nick to join the party and he turns out the light at 3.30 AM.
Sunday 26th of July
The nights were long and Nick feels it when he wakes up. Still tired, but there's still one more day to go. It is Sunderland-Atletico Madrid today and Nick can drive with Drew to the ArenA together with Drew's sons Glen and Jimmy. We decide to park near the ArenA and have a drink on the ArenA's square. Nick's experience from Friday is that the city centre is too big for a meeting and the ArenA-square looked pretty good on the Friday. So we arrive around 3.00 PM at the square and have a drink. Trains keep coming in from the city centre and it gets more and more crowded with Mackems. You can see the tiredness on almost all faces. Most of them look like they haven's seen their bed for two days. Mark, Sam, Brian and Eileen also get to the square. It is very nice in the sun and at 5 PM we get to the ArenA. We walk on the huge stairway again (heaven?) and find a seat. The ArenA seems even more empty than Friday. Unvelievable. The match is better that Friday. Sunderland is the better team and score from a penalty. In the second half Kieran scores his second goal with a good long shot. The Sunderland fans start the party. Blow up dolls and even a blow up goat fly in the stands. After the match Nick, Mark and Sam get to the ArenA-square again. Drew and his sons are in the Ajax area and stay for the Ajax game. On the square there is a small Sunderland party. Singing, drinking and playing football. And a strange kind of football. The ball bounces all over the square and even the neon lights of the Heineken Music Hall isn't safe. At 11.00 PM Drew and his sons arrive at the square. The lads are tired and want to get home. We say goodbye to Mark and Sam and leave for Hillegom.
What a great but tough weekend this was. I will feel knackered for at least four more days, but it is definitley worth it. I am Sunderland till I die !
(written by Nick)