12th of August 2000 - 13th of August 2000
Heerenveen - Sunderland
score: 4-1 (24' Don Hutchison (pen) 0-1, 28' min Nurmela 1-1, 48' min Gerard de Nooijer 2-1, 53' min Gerard de Nooijer 3-1, 72' min Tuhuteru 4-1)
This game was part of the Appelscha festivity week, so they invited Heerenveen to play this game not in the Abe Lenstra stadium but 30 miles further in a small village called Appelscha. It was played on an amateur ground (so that's why there's no ticket available). A lot of Dutch Sunderland supporters had asked if they could join for this game. That's why it will be remembered as the game with the biggest Hillegom crowd. In party were: Pep, San, Peur, Jaime, Drew, Guppio, Wieb, Marianne (Lenneke's sister and husband), Francis (Lenneke's brother), Michiel (friend of Francis), Lenneke and Nick. De first four names had booked a hotel, all the others had planned to drive home. We arrived early in the afternoon and the village was red and white of Sunderland supporters. Great to see how many had crossed the North Sea for this game. After some refreshments we walked to the ground. We found a nice corner in the sun with most Sunderland supporters and a beer pump of course. We also met Mark, Sam, Dominic, Sasha and Brian again.
Sunderland had a good start. They couldn't play with a full squad. Niall Quinn, Kevin Phillips and Steve Bould stayed in England because of injuries and Chris Makin couldn't make a start either. Sunderland took the lead with a new boy Don Hutchison penalty kick. Before half time Heerenveen scored the 1-1, but it didn't look that bad for the first 45 minutes. This all changed in the second half. In front of the Sunderland supporters there was a bloke leaning on the fence and he'd turned around and laughed when Heerenveen scored the 1-1. He also did this when Heerenveen scored the 2-1 and the 3-1 when one Sunderland supporter noticed he looked a lot like Rudi Völler, and he did. So after a while all the Sunderland fans were singing "there's only one Rudi Völler!". Heerenveen even scored 4-1 in the end, but the Sunderland fans enjoyed themselves. After the final whistle der Rudi came over to shake hands and wanted to take a photo of the Sunderland fans. We agreed, but only if we could also have our photo taken with him.
We stayed, just like most of the fans, close to the clubhouse. This was an amateur ground, so the dressing rooms were close and this was a good chance to have your photo taken with your own heroes. Jaime and San were only interesterd in Heerenveen's Dennis de Nooijer who could not understand to see Dutch ladies with a Sunderland top on. Nick felt sorry for Dennis' brother Gerard de Nooijer and managed to get him on the photo with San. When we walked to the village centre we even bumped into Heerenveen manager Foppe de Haan to have some icing on the cake.
In the village centre we found a crowded square. A square full of Sunderland supporters it was. A lot of the Hillegom fans went back home. This was also Nick's plan, but he could not say goodbye. In the end Pep and Peur decided to allow Nick to stay in their hotel room (that's what friends are for). It was a lovely summer night and the beer kept coming in. There was also a cd playing on the square with various sixties-songs. And out of the blue Daydream believer was played. The whole square was immediately full of dancing people and Sunderland fans climbed on the chairs to sing "cheer up Peter Reid". Brilliant! The owner of the pub had also seen this and had a good commercial feeling. Every time when he saw large groups leave the square he put Daydream believer on and the in seconds the square was full again with singing and dancing Sunderland fans. Great party! Until a few English fans came to Nick and said there were about three guys singing rascism songs in English, but they were Dutch. We noticed it were FC Groningen (local rivals of Heerenveen) supporters who wanted to cause some trouble. Luckily they left soon as they realised these English supporters were just fans who wanted to have a party. But when there would have been trouble, everybody would blame the English hooligans!
Time went fast and we had a great night. Nick had a few cold beers poored over his head by Mark because Mark said this was an English tradition when they knew you would become a father for the first time. But in the end we found the hotel. Pep and Peur moved the two beds close to each other and Nick was allowed to lay in the middle. The next morning we found out Nick was the only one who had a few hours of sleep. When we said goodbye to Mark, Sam, Dominic and Sasha we drove with a smile on our face back to Hillegom. What a great experience (apart from the football result).
(written by Nick)