The Dutch Weekender with an unexpected Belgian twist

Phew. Apologies for the delay in blog posts. I’m becoming Gaudi. Almost two calendar months without writing again makes feel very guilty indeed. It’s not much of a blog if I don’t update it is it now? My limp excuses are that I’ve been exceptionally under the cosh at work and have spent most evenings as a modern day monk vowing to avoid the stresses of work and being far too tired to write anything meaningful. Since Burton I’ve managed to pack an additional 14 games into a season where I was supposed to be sensible and not rack up the games quite so much. I’ve also developed RSI as well.

So after 11 days at work without a day off I sit here on a balmy Friday night with strong coffee and the Shins excellent Port of Morrow album gently blocking out the cast of Skins who’ve descended on next door whilst Mummy and Daddy are either out or god forbid at the holiday home in France.

Big trouble in little Deventer?

So after a couple of friendlies between Staines Town and Warta Poznan followed by Wealdstone V Braintree Town I embarked on a small trip to Holland for a couple of Blackburn Rover’s friendlies and a couple of other games. The full schedule was Go Ahead Eagles V Blackburn Rovers on Friday night. SV Spakenburg V ADO’20 on Saturday afternoon, FC Utrecht V Kasimpasa on Saturday evening with NEC Nijmegen V Blackburn Rover on the Sunday afternoon. That was the plan.

So to Friday night. Deventer. Go Ahead Eagles and their stadium De Adlaarshorst, a ground I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time. Unusually for a Dutch team it’s not situated in a safe neutral area, but in a largely residential area. “Welcome” shouted a portly GAE steward, spotting my two companions Rover’s shirts, “You have your own area”. A mammoth walk around the ground and park and we arrived at the away fans entrance to a full humourless security pat down. Up the worlds steepest steps and into a perspex UFC cage with a shit view. My worst fears confirmed. Hardly the best scope for having a wander about and taking a few photos.

Not the best view is it?

Blackburn were awful. Disjointed and static. GAE were more up for it but they didn’t have to try too hard. When Blackburn did wake up they pulled a 2-0 deficit to 2-2 with Premiership style strikes from David Goodwillie and Morten Gamst Pedersen. An ironic “Who are ya, who are ya” came from the Blackburn corner only to be met by a less than friendly “We’re Deventer, who the fuck are you?”. Blackburn fell asleep again and GAE added two more goals to end it at 4-2. Then the fun really started. Despite this being a friendly we were offered a police escort back to the railway station. We declined as I’d parked the Mazda around the corner. Still as we walked back we got stared at, then shouted at by skinheads on Vespas before we got to the car. The fun continued in the town centre when we got back. We walked into the centre of town and got far too much attention and not all of it friendly. I guess we take things for granted in England sometimes when we go to matches as away fans.

So from Deventer to Spakenburg. Readers of this blog will remember last year that I paid a visit to Ijsselmeervogels, this time was a small visit to their near neighbours SV Spakenburg. We popped in to AGOVV Apeldoorn on the way. They were having a fan day. I got a free copy of Voetbal International and had a briefchat with the rep. In dutch I might add as well. AGOVV have a lovely ground. Then it was off to Spakenburg. Saturday is market day in the town. We parked for free in the town car park. Ate ice cream with whipped cream and nipped into Kruidvat (Dutch Superdrug/Boots) for blister aid. We walked to the ground and turned right rather than left for the other team in white and red at the end of the car park. We got in for free and watched a youth match on the terrace sipping a cool beer.

SV Spakenburg’s De Westmaat Stadium. Smart isn’t it?

The ground started to fill up a bit. It’s a smart little ground. Covered on 3 sides. Seated on one side. It’s obviously had a fair bit of money spent on it, as has the Ijsselmeervogels stadium next door. It’s reminiscent of a Terry-Thomas V Ian Carmichael game of oneupmans-ship. Fancy seated stand? Snap. Posh club bar? Snap. 3G pitch? Snap. Covered side terrace? Snap. I got the impression that SV Spakenburg seem to be the slightly more welcoming of the two clubs. Not wish to sit of the fence of course.

Even the shopmobility people in Holland are refreshingly chav free.
The match finished 2-2. Their opponents ADO’20 gave a decent account of themselves although I think they might’ve been a division lower. Aanhouden Doet Overwinnen Heemskerk 20 certainly looked like Spakenburg’s equals.
So onwards and the short 20 mile trip to Utrecht to pick up my friend Koert and after all the years I’ve been going to Utrecht I was finally going to see FC Utrecht. But not at the atmospheric Galgenwaard. I had to make do with Sportpark Zoudenbach. Complete with it’s own grassy knoll and arseholes with smoke bombs.

FC Utrecht’s opponents for the day were Turkish side Kasimpasa who’ve recently been promoted to the Turkish 1st Division and have acquired German Fabien Ernst and current Swedish Internation goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson, who was bawling out instructions in English to his Turkish centre halves. “Left shoulder”, “Right shoulder”, “drop”, “away” and a “for fuck’s sake” thrown in for good measure.

FC Utrecht V Kasimpasa. But not at the Galgenwaard.
The game was a pretty stale one. FC Utrecht like most dutch sides are neat and tidy without really threatening. The Turks showed a lot more commitment in the tackle and looked more likely to score. The FC Utrecht camerawoman distracted me for a while and I had to take several test shots of her to make sure that I’d got my camera settings correct.
The FC Utrecht Camerawoman. As strong as an Ox.
Kasimpasa went 1-0 up midway through the 2nd half. The sight of a Galatasary fan and a Fenerbahce fan hugging each other in celebration in the main stand made me smile. Treasonous behaviour! Then it all started getting a bit fruity on the pitch. A late challenge from the FC Utrecht full back provoked a small scuffle and then in the ten minutes that followed it looked more like a old English 4th division game with tackles flying in everywhere. The Turks love a tackle or two. Then FC Utrecht equalised late on in the game. By the end the stewards already provoked by a red smoke bomb being set off had called in the coppers to make sure that there wasn’t any trouble between the FC Utrecht knobhead contingent and the local Turkish lads who were celebrating the draw.
Rode schmoke!
The next day saw a later start after a lovely evening BBQ with some Dutch friends and a cooked breakfast al fresco. We headed from Utrecht to Nijmegen for Blackburn Rovers’ second match of the weekend against NEC Nijmegen. We rocked up at the car park. Got our things together and then somebody sauntered across and told us that the match was called off. It transpired that the club had taken police advice and decided that possible trouble spilling over from Friday night in Deventer, most of dutch police on holiday and little kiddies running around at a fan day wasn’t a good mix. We then had to find another game. The locals weren’t helpful, the stewards even less and then about 20 minutes later we were advised to move on from the Goffertstadion car park in case NEC fans started calling people who might be looking for a fight. As an English supporter of a lower division club I found this completely ridiculous. But I guess cultural differences run deeper than you would think. Dutch police and stewards either despise away fans or just despise football fans in general. We couldn’t decide upon which theory was correct or maybe it was a little of both. All we knew was that staying in the car park in Nijmegen wasn’t worth the trouble.
So without much ado and having two extremely pissed off Blackburn Rovers’ fans in tow we decided that getting out of Holland seemed like the best course of action to take. The Soccerway website pointed to several games on in Belgium. It came down to a toss up between Zulte Waregem or Oud-Heverlee Leuven. On a day of variables I thought it was prudent to go with the option I was familiar with and choose Leuven.
OHL V Racing Genk. The prudent choice to end a weird dutch weekend.
Unlike Holland there seems to be more of a cheery pub atmosphere at Belgian games. I’ve heard that Anderlecht fans aren’t that wonderful but trips to Leuven and KV Mechelen led me to believe that the atmosphere is much better. The Stadion Den Dreef is a compact little ground with a good atmosphere with plenty of beer, sausage and chips. OHL fans turn up in good numbers and made decent noise without it being too nasty or over the top.
The Stadion Den Dreef. Compact, modern and atmospheric.
The game was a good one. Lots of attacking intent and shoddy defending from both sides. Christian Benteke (now of Aston Villa) was a massive handful. Stefan Gislason (who looks like the great Zvonmir Boban) tried to pull the strings in midfield for OHL but was outgunned by Julien Gorius (formerly of KV Mechelen) and the lovely Thomas Buffel. Genk had a man sent off but then scored though Benteke.

Christian Benteke. Now plying his trade at the Villa.

Half time came and went with a couple of crisp beers. OHL went straight for the jugular but then got caught out horribly and a cross from Buffel was turned in to make it 0-2. OHL brought on a tricky little winger called Thomas Azevedo who fired them into life. Stefan Gislason then hit a long range effort which took a big deflection and rocketed into the net. 1-2 and all to play for. Everything went through the young winger Azevedo and eventually one of his enterprising runs earned OHL a penalty. They scored. 2-2. To their absolute credit they kept going to try and win the game and almost did late in injury time when they hit the post.
Tricky winger Thomas Azevedo of OHL. Everton next season perhaps?
All in all it was an enjoyable weekend despite the unexpected issues we faced in Deventer and Nijmegen. I certainly won’t be in a hurry to get myself back to a dutch game, especially if I chose to watch it as an away supporter. Treat people like animals and they’ll behave accordingly. Thank god we’ve moved on a bit in England.

One thought on “The Dutch Weekender with an unexpected Belgian twist

  1. It makes me sad to read about your away day experience in the Netherlands but it is unfortunately very familiar to me. It is however much better to go as a neutral or home supporter, away fans are almost universally considered scum although I have had good experiences at Heracles Almelo and FC Groningen.

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