14th of March 2008 - 16th of March 2008
Sunderland - Chelsea (ladies trip)
score: 0-1 (9' min Terry 0-1)
Ladies Trip 2008
Yes, you're at the correct website: this is about a Sunderland Ladies trip. This is something that had to be done. Nick was sick and tired of al the ladies who kept asking "why can't we join those Sunderland trips?". In 2007 there was finally the long awaited answer from Nick: "there will be a Ladies trip in the new year". It would be a Sunderland home game, and plans were to have it in March 2008. All we had to do now was waiting for the fixture list and save some extra cash for this event. Most of the men will think this is just for shopping. No in weekends like this there is a lot of food and especially a lot of drinking involved (and a bit of shopping of course). Anyway, the party invited were: Lenneke, Linda, Mus, Maureen and Jaime.
To build up the excitement Nick decided to wait long with the details of the trip. The big question was: when and for how long are we're going? Nick came up with the idea to arrive on Saturday and leave again on Sunday. Well the ladies didn't agree with that. They all seem to remember that the Lads had a trip that took 6 or 7 days....so time to negotiate. We finally agreed for this: Friday the 14th of March we would arrive in Sunderland. Saturday the 15th it would be Sunderland vs. Chelsea and on Sunday the 16th we would get back to Hillegom again. The long waiting had started.
There was a lot of talking going on about this ladies trip. And most of the talking was from the men who are usually involved. There were even some who wanted to join. But no way, this was meant to be a ladies trip, not a Centre Parcs weekend. Nick was the only "tourleader" who was allowed to join. He is the man who kows where to go and knows Sunderland's hottest spots. Nick was the ladies most wanted. This trip had to have fun written all over it and Nick is also the person who's got the organisation planned till the smallest detail. But the ladies wanted to surprise him, but with what? There were some brainstorm sessions and there were some crazy ideas on the table. Dress him up as a carrot and let him treat the fans with apples, but even the ladies thought this would be too much. Finally they agreed to have t-shirts printed. The ladies would have t-shirts with "Nick’s panic tour, Sunderland 2008" on it. Nick got exactly the same shirt, but with one extra line underneath: "but you don’t listen!" I won’t explain this, but I think most of you will understand. I’m not sure if this is a "girls thing", but it all went to the very last minute before we ordered. On the Friday leaving day, the shirts were delivered. The idea was that all ladies would have the shirt on the day of departure and Nick would get his shirt at the airport. But only after the ladies would take their jacket off. Very subtle like "phew it's hot in here, I have to take my jacket off."
One more thing that Nick and the other ladies didn't know (just Jaime knew) was that when we would get the bus from busstop the Nachtegaal to Schiphol, Peur (who is a busdriver) would get on the same bus to drive us. Nick and Lenneke picked up Jaime and off they went to busstop the Nachtegaal. We would meet Mau, Lin and Mus there. Peur would be at the same stop, but well covered. Nick was very nervous. Would they all be on time. The ladies were also very nervous. Just watching each other if anyone would take her jacket off. Anyway, the bus arrived. We got on the bus and just when we were in, Peur got on the bus. Well, you can understand the reaction of the other ladies. I’m not sure if the other passengers on the same bus were too happy with this, it was quite early in the morning. But it’s only a 25 minute drive, so Schiphol here we come!
Peur had a coffee-break and walked with us into Schiphol. I think we were for just one second in the main entrance when someone started: "phew it's hot in here, I have to take my jacket off." Nick just shaked his head when he saw the shirts. He got his and the only reaction was: "wrong colours" (the shirts were black with white text). We said bye to Peur and real adventure would start from here. First of all: find plastic bags for our deodorant, toothpaste, perfumes and more liquids. This is impossible for a girl to have it all fit in just one small bag. I think it was a man who came up with this. We didn’t have to check in (boarding passes were already printed) so off to Murphy’s pub at Schiphol. The first pints were already ordered. But we had a flight to catch, so off to the departure lounge and on the plane. The flight was good and we could even spot Sunderland from the air. We arrived at Newcastle and tried not to show that we were on our way to Sunderland. You'll never know. On the metro and in half an hour we arrived in Sunderland.
Jon and Kathy were waiting for us and a little bit shy we introduced us. They were that kind to give us a ride to the Balmoral Guesthouse on the seafront. We would check in and then Jon and Kathy would company us for a lunch at the New Derby. In Holland we'd already suggested a room planning, but this was directly changed when Lin and Nick decided to get in the bride-suite together. Lenneke who"s married to Nick, decided that this wasn't a good plan. So Nick and Lenneke would have their second honeymoon this weekend. I think Lenneke already knew that she would prefer a romantic room with sea-view above a room with Jaime and just pigeon-shit view... But don't get me wrong, we had a great time at the Balmoral Guesthouse.
A little bit of make-up on, a bit of deodorant and off to the New Derby for a good English lunch. Maureen bought from all of us a present for Jon for everything that he'd done for us. It was a football top of FC Utrecht. We also asked Jon what he thought of our t-shirts. He liked them, but they were in the wrong colours was his first reaction. We ordered our food, and Lin and Jon played some pool. After that Jon an Kathy left us by ourselves. Nick took us to the Howard Arms. There's a lot of stories about this pub from the Lads. And there is of course the famous photo of the Dutch Mackems on the wall. This was something we had to see, so off we went. When we walked in we were the only ones inside. So we were served really quick, had a look around, turned the jukebox on and Nick an Lin played some pool. After about an hour we decided to head for the city centre. See if there were more people for a night out. It was Friday night, so why not. We passed the Stadium and couln't resist just to have a look. Then we went to the Baroque. A pub that looks like a church. There were some people inside, but it wasn't crowded at all. They had a DJ, so they must have thought it would be a good night. Well, we made a good night for ourselves. Pints were arriving quickly (no half pints for these ladies) and we stalked the DJ. After a while he had to stop, even if we begged him for more (what he enjoyed very much but his girlfriend didn't like it at all). So let's find another place for some beer and music....
We ended up in Ku-Klub. Also a very famous name. Nick told that last time he was here it was packed. Beer was served in cans, loud alternative music so let's have a look. When we got inside it was hugely disappointing. We were the only ones! But to take this on the positive side, the DJ played every song we asked. Oasis, Blur, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, Joy Division, Inspiral Carpets and even New Model Army what also got Nick on the dancefloor. So still a great night after all, it looked more like a private party. Finally we decided to leave and walk back to the guesthouse. This was a great first day of the Ladies trip. The only difference with a Lads trip, was the dancing that was involved, but the drinking, eating and laughing was almost the same.
Matchday! But this is still a ladies trip, so early wake-up call to do some shopping. We took a taxi to the Bridges and they got 2 hours of "shop till you drop" from Nick. The only thing that was missing was the running shoes. Immediately when they saw the doors of the Bridges, the running started. And two hours later we met each-other again at the meeting point. See if we could get everything in one taxi and back to the guesthouse. Drop the bags and off to the Howard Arms to have some pints and meet the rest. Brian and Eileen were in the Howard Arms and Eileen wanted to swap shirts with Linda. When Jon arrived we got our tickets and we walked to the Stadium. But not without a stop for the usual burger. Even Lenneke had to admit that this was very tasteful and good after some pints. And she also knew that this could also be the last food we got until the Indian restaurant at 10 PM.
In the stadium a new experience for Nick as well. South stand, next to the Chelsea supporters. Nick had never been in that area. Not that much of a difference with the other parts, except that you can hear the singing of the away support. And to be fair, Chelsea brought a lot of support. The match started and the message to Sunderland was: don't concede an early goal. But in the 9th minute it was John Terry who scored. A Lampard corner and poor marking. But after that Sunderland were the better team. A free kick from Andy Reid was brillantly kept out by Cudicini and in the very last minute Dean Whitehead could have saved a point, but his shot was narrowly wide. Before the game you knew that it would be very difficult to get something from this game, but when you're so close it still feels a bit disappointing.
Anyway, back to the pub and this time we walked to the sea-front to the Harbour view. There we would meet Jon and a lot of his friends again and also Mark and Sam joined. To rub a bit of salt in the wounds, Mark decided to phone Drew and tell him what a great night we were having. And we surely had. All of Jon's friends stayed for the rest of the night and wanted us to join them to the Queen Vic. It was karaoke night. Linda asked Dave Hendry to get on stage with him and do Mr. Brightside. Dave wrote his name on the paper, but refused when his name was called. So Jaime decided to fill his space. They had lots of fun and had a great perfomance. A couple of minutes later it was Nick's turn. And when you're on a trip with five ladies, what is a great song to pick: David Lee Roth's cover of Just a gigolo of course. Nick sang on stage and the Ladies danced in front of him. Even Victoria from the guesthouse (who did a great version of Dido's Thank you by the way) joined in. Why is time alsways flying on these nights? At 10 PM we had a table booked at the Pitiraj Indian Restaurant. But for how many? This must have been the biggest attendance from the Lads ever. Jon's friends and their friends joined as well. I think it was a table for 16, and we had a great meal (as always). Nick had to be carried home (as always) and time for a night of sleep.
All of the ladies were downstairs for breakfast and guesthouse owner Darren didn't serve breakfast yet. He just wanted to know when the gigolo would come down the stairs. Eventually he did, but not in the best of state. So after breakfast time for some fresh air and a walk at the seafront. There was a lot of wind and we found a small coffee-corner for some coffee and hot chocolate. Even these are served in pints! But this was also the last stop. After that we had to get the bags from the guesthouse and we took a taxi to the airport. Which wasn't a good idea for Nick and Mus who didn't feel that well in the taxi. Even at the airport some of the ladies found some time for shopping, but would this all still fit in their handluggage? The poor man behind the custom desk had to pick out Mus' bag three times and re-scan it. Mus had even managed to put three plastic bags with liquids inside (!) But when you're a lady, you just smile at the man behind the counter, say sorry and you get away with it.
Sunday late afternoon we arrived at Schiphol and got back to Hillegom. Nick had to admit this was a great trip, but he would really needed a good and very long think about it if he would ever do this again....
(written by Jaime and finished by Nick)