9th of November 2007 - 11th of November 2007
Sunderland - Newcastle United
score: 1-1 (51' min Danny Higginbotham 1-0, 64' min Milner 1-1)
Day One – Friday, November 9th 2007
We arrive at Leeds/Bradford airport at 10.00 am. Excited, but still sober because we left The Netherlands before the pointer of the clock had hit the double digits. And you do not mess with this unwritten rule where we come from. Our thirst is further put to the proof when Jon and Dave, who very kindly offered to drive us to Sunderland, head straight forward to their cars. No problem of course, it gives us a great opportunity to catch up with them.
Once we are in Sunderland it turns out that we are too early to check in at our guesthouse (Balmoral). So we head to a pub (The New Derby) close to our guesthouse for a bite and a pint. A good moment to present a little surprise from the Brabant Mackems. In order to thank Nick, Drew and Jon for the invitation they receive a very limited edition of a NAC-SAFC shirt. And the man who fixed – once again – everything in the UK receives an away shirt of NAC Breda as well. After all this Dave has got to go to get himself a tie for a funeral. Jon takes Edgar, Nick and all of our luggage to the guesthouse. And Johnny, Drew and Paddy take a taxi to East Boldon. We were planning to visit the famous pyramids of East Boldon and are bitterly disappointed to hear that we were misinformed. But we are not the kind of guys to sit down with the packets so we go off to the pub for a little comfort. The first one (The Black Bull) does not make much of an impression, but the second one (The Grey Horse) is already a big improvement. Great interior, real ales and a nice chat with some locals who love to hear that we have come over from The Netherlands to visit THE derby.
And, as it turns out, the best this day has to offer has yet to come. We go to the Greyhound Stadium of Sunderland accompanied by Jon and Kathy. We are not familiar with dog races in Holland, so Jon presents briefly the highlights of betting for dummies to us. It is still a mystery whether Paddy is the only one paying attention or just plain lucky but he ends the night with a profit of ₤ 90. The earnings of his hard nights work go into the kitty and we set off for the after party. Jon & Kathy decide to go home soon afterwards. Despite the slow start we decide to stay a bit longer. After all we are Dutch and already paid for our tickets…. And boy are we glad we stayed! What a night. Normally Edgar and Nick have an acute form of phobia as soon as they see a dancefloor. This time however the Statler & Waldorf of Dutch nightlife only leave the floor to file a request to the DJ (Nick, 30 – 40 times) or chat up an all-women-are-at-least-10-years-older- party. Somehow we manage to get a taxi to our guesthouse. Where Paddy ends the night by a short, but very convincing demonstration of air sleeping before he hits his bed.
Day Two – Saturday, November 10th 2007
The next morning starts with good news for our families. Even though we wake up feeling like we have been hit by the night train, we still take great care in our personal hygiene. The downside of all this is that the moment that Nick & Drew take a shower it starts to drip from a crack in our ceiling. Luckily right between the beds of Paddy and Johnny. Just before you get irritated by this fact you start praying for the moment Edgar stops talking. It feels like we brought a parrot with ADHD with us. When Johnny and Paddy flee from all his nonsense to the room where they serve breakfast we meet the other end of the spectrum: Nick. He has a healthy ash-grey colour and all he can handle this morning is plain toast. Great company after Edgar!
First pub were we stop today is the Lambton Worm. It is still early (10.00) but the place is packed. After a few minutes, when Edgar and Johnny can almost touch the bar, an impatient Paddy gestures from the other end that he is going to order. After which it only takes him another half hour or so before the staff – out of mercy? – is kind enough to hand him a few pints. From this pub we go to Howard Arms where we meet Brian and Eileen. They have all kinds of snacks with them. Which makes it even nicer to see them again. After the Howard Arms we are off to the Stadium of Light. But first we have to stop at a chipper for a hamburger. Even Nick feels up to it. And since you can not stand on one leg, of course the first hamburger is quickly followed by a second one. One of the best moments of this trip starts as soon as you have crossed the junction that seperates the stadium from the city. Not only do you become part of a big crowd but also of the excitement and expectations for this match. When we enter the stadium it turns out that we have brilliant places. Only a few metres from the pitch. And not too far from the away supporters. The atmosphere is amazing. You can really feel the hatred. The game ends in 1-1. A sloppy goal prevented the victory we all were hoping for. After this goal the intensity in the Stadium even rose. This game is really one of the currants in the porridge when it comes down to football.
After the game Drew tries to show us what a modern man he is by buying a pink scarf of SAFC. Thank god we have good old macho Drew back a few moments later when he suggests to stop for another hamburger before we walk to Harbour View. This is quite a distance so we make a short stop at the The Cliff. When we enter Harbour View there is a slight disappointment. The lovely staff of last year is nowhere to be seen. Maybe word got to Sunderland that Guppio did not join us this time? But the real ales are still available. And of course all our friends from Sunderland. So we have a great time anyway. To give this afternoon a little extra the famous Bobby Kerr – father of Piet? – joins a table next to us. After a while Nick loses his hesitance and……lands a pint of lager in the lap of Bobby. This is a double disappointment for Bobby. Not only wet pants, but from now on he will also always be remembered as the man where Nick spoilt his beer on instead as the man who lifted the FA cup for Sunderland in 1973. This is enough excitement for Nick. He will not have it that Mark, Drew and Paddy head for a swim in the sea. At this time Edgar & Johnny call it a day and head home. And Paddy finds out that he has lost his mobile. He sticks to the party and goes for a meal at an Indian restaurant. But shortly after his Vindaloo has been served he disappears as well. So much for the famous long Brabant nights…..
Day Three – Sunday, November 11th 2007
We wake up not feeling much better than the day before. But no worse either. After our breakfast Drew has a hard time saying goodbye to the people who run our guesthouse. By the time he is busy with his final, final farewell they should be able to describe what a “Heintje Davids” is. We take two taxi’s to the centre where Nick & Drew go for their traditional shopping. The best thing where we come up with is a visit to the Lambton Worm. On our way to this pub we see some special Sunderland flora when there is a string waving in a tree. When the ladies Nick and Drew join us in the Lambton there is still time for another pint. But after this we start to walk to the bus station to meet Jon and Kathy who will drive us to Durham. Kathy shows up in a fancy, bit retro looking car called Hillary. Drew is the lucky one and drives off with Emma Peel behind the wheel. We have a nice lunch at the Bridge Hotel. Good food, great friends, what could go wrong?! Well for example the fact that we have to break up this perfect end of our trip because we have a taxi waiting to bring us to the airport. And then this big elephant shows up, with a really long snout….
"This story is based on actual events. In certain cases incidents, characters and timelines have been changed for dramatic purposes. Certain characters may be composites, or entirely fictitious." ;-)
(written by Paddy, Edgar and Johnny)