The baton is handed to me and hopefully not like a British Olympic relay team I won’t drop it!
Now let me see, by a twist of fate (and a loaded Euro coin!) I’ve been given the task of doing part deux of what has been known as “Bedlam in Belgium”. And as some of you may be aware over the past few years our physical and mentally ability to do two days on the juice has diminished so what. Just remember Truro, Falmouth and Cambridge to name but a few.
So where do I start?
|Little of this was drunk. Surprisingly!|
Maybe I should start on the Friday night with me for once actually packing in advance making sure that I was ready for the weekend’s festivities, and trying to order a copy of that classic film “Eurotrip”? No, that won’t do. I could start with our outwards journey and the tales that arose from it. But that has been covered in detail in the first part of this blog and all the rest of the talk couldn’t be repeated for we don’t want to lower the tone just yet (even the Tintin tattoos). How about the fact that for a split second on the highlights of the Oostende game, you could see us before the most soberest of us was interviewed or after the second penalty is scored you can see all the members of the Firm that made Belgium trip, one of us who was clearly excited at the goal then the others. Still that’s not where I’m going to start. How about the fact that after the Oostende match and as we were in foreign country it was I that guessed correctly the right platform for the tram home, or the insinuations that I merely wanted to stand with the visiting Leuven supporters (the act of which allegedly was caught on film!). But no doubt these incidents have been covered by our chauffeur for the trip. And the last look at my watch read 0415hrs.
|Taz gets his 15 seconds of fame with Belgian TV….|
So let’s start with the time was 0800hrs when I heard someone potter and shuffle their feet into the hall off to toilet, and that was me awake, no hangover mind you, but no doubt a right old case of the two bob bits. Downstairs we headed to breakfast, unfortunately we arrived to stale rolls and a sachet of pate that we in no way enough sustenance for our growing bodies and arrangements were made to head into the centre to get some proper nosh as some of our Firm elected to grab another hours kip to recharge to old batteries. We never did manage to find anywhere that do a good old English fry-up but then again it was a old Belgian medieval town that we were staying so it was a croque-monsieur instead (basically a toasted ham and cheese sandwich).
|Oh dear god….|
After meeting up with the rest of the Firm, the slow tender walk towards the bus station was the order of the day as we tried to recollect the previous nights events that led to fits of giggles and groans of embarrassment from some. As most of us need to eject more Euros from the cashpoint to hop on the bus it was at this point that the first flash rain storm hits, don’t forget none of us had packed any waterproofs and a good soaking was to follow. We somehow managed to work out what bus to get and waited in vain like all the other Club Brugge fans that were piling out of the train station. The Belgian bus driver then individually told us that the 2 euros we paid for the ride could’ve been attained cheaper if we brought a ticket from the stand, but lets face it we really didn’t care! The bus journey to the ground was like all other bus trips in Western Europe, overcrowded, slow and arduous. The highlight being a still slightly drunk Taz, several times trying to hold the rail and just grabbing air as he stumbled into an unimpressed local, somehow he managed this three times before we could jump off.
|The boys relax after the excitement of seeing the Marvin Gaye memorial….|
The moment of actually seeing the ground for me and all the people arriving was an experience I haven’t had in a long time, Euro 96 was the last I think. The first stop was to find where we could get tickets and like the previous night, several different places we sent to before finally finding the right kiosk. With our 20 euro tickets in hand the first comment was “Beer?” to mildly resistant nods for the ours. A couple of brewski’s later we decided to find our seats, we happened to be in the top tier corner of the home end, who the view was something you would get to see normally on a Saturday afternoon I can tell ya!
The atmosphere in the ground was something I haven’t really experienced in my adult life, in fact the 24,500 fans inside the ground were making a lot of noise, this was only temporarily disrupted when a quarter of an hour before kick off the heavens opened again and the locals in our uncovered tier made a dash for the exit, but us non-league fans are made of sterner stuff and we refused to budge get soaked in a matter of seconds, luckily the rain on lasted a few minutes, and we wiped our seats down and prepared for the forthcoming entertainment.
|Obvious ginger joke….|
Now the hard bit, the actual match itself. The game was slightly different to last night affair as Brugge had the lions share of the possession of the play and chances. The first real chance came we after a Nelsonesque back pass was intercepted by the Brugge striker who took it round the keeper but his shot hit the side netting. At this point my drunkenness from the last night had caused me to not realise that there actually two large screens in the ground for us to see all the replays after the incidents, Well wee don’t get that down the lane! The next big chance was like night another soft penalty, I know I’m old school but I can’t help it, but I thought it was soft fella! The man to step up to the plate was Timmy Simons who calmly sent the ball into the back of the net. 1-0, and still hadn’t seen a goal from open play, but like Taz says the set pieces were like some of ours!
It was exactly on the 23rd minute that confused me when all the home fans began clapping for a solid minute that had me confused for a long time (It was later explained to me but I forget). The rest of the half was very much end-to-end action with Waregem hitting the bar with a free kick and Brugge coming close with a disallowed goal and Wing Wang seeing a shot block by the Waregem defence. The half time whistle was blown and it was decided that we would remain in our seats as the first attempted to buy beer was roundly shot down as you were not allowed to purchase any alcohol while the match is in progress.
The second half of this match was very much a tired affair with both teams failing to produce any of the high tempo manoeuvres seen In the first half. The first real attempt was form the away team who saw a shot cleared off the line. And a Brugge attack ended with a poor header that landed well past the post. With fifteen minutes left on the big screen we finally managed to see our first Belgian goal in open play when some slinky footwork down the right side saw a ball lofted into the six yard box and a toe poke saw the ball end up in the back of the net with several players, 1-1, finally! It was only minutes before that we saw the introduction of the only player I would recognise throughout both games, none other that the old Chelsea boy Eidur Gudjohnsen! The first comments from the Firm were “He’s put a bit of timber on hasn’t he?” this lead to a debate on the actual Gudjohnsen we remembered, but we never came to a conclusion about it. there was still a final chance for Brugge to get the win and the three points but the resulting chance rebounded of the post and the ref finally blew his whistle to a chorus of boos from the home support, Full time 1-1.
As we were in no rush to get back we let all the locals depart first and after a while we headed down stairs to see if I could get her ladyship back home a scarf. With no luck in hand we headed to the main road to see above our heads tied to a lamppost a random picture of Jean-Pierre Papin, unknown to me that he had played a season for Brugge back in the 80’s. The big decision was now was shall we get a bus back or walk? well the Bus stop wankers in our group won the day and we hitch a lift in one accordingly, the amazing fact was that several of the boats on the bus we in fact those that had got the bus to the ground before the game. Including the fella that Taz bumped into several times, this was only mention when he nearly stumbled into him again!
|Got 10p for a cuppa guv?|
We made it back to the town centre, where it was decided that food was needed if we were to begin to top up last nights alcohol. And instead of just filling up on Pom Frites (see I learnt some of the local lingo!), it was decided that we would get some proper grub in our tummies and the first request from someone was “All I want is Steak!” So we found the closest place that looked half decent and found a vacant table. Let’s just say those that had the Steak thought it was amazing, even Mr X enjoyed his medley of various croquettes and my Ribs weren’t half bad either. One of my only regrets from the booze cruise was the fact that I never got to tries the national dish of Mussels and Chips, but hay ho!
The problem of doing a part two of a weekender is most of the action happens on the first heavy night, so this night we tried to take in a bit of culture, which basically mean’t we walked around for a bit looking and taking various photos and trying to look like proper tourists not just a rabble of larger louts! Fortunately this only last an hour and we found a bar where we could catch another game of Belgian Premier league football on the box, this game too had a goal in open play but this came after 13 seconds of the start and turn quite depressing afterwards but once we had charged our glasses and cleared out our bowels we were starting to get the taste back once again (Taz, I said 250 not 2×50!). After a cheeky smoke I did manage to see my nemesis over the road in the guise of a model shop and as you have seen in some of the tweets this one of those drunken habits one has picked up.
|In Bruges. The Jan Breydelstadion to be exact….|
The penultimate stop was the bar that the Welsh Wizard had been recommended, and the one that it took three attempts to finally get a drink from. Much the disdain of the waiter they didn’t do Cider or sorry “Cidre” but an apple flavour beer, and as I had yet to taste any apples all weekend the temptation became too much and I succumbed to it. After checking out some sort of acid flashback type of print on the wall (I’m sure those were condoms in the river!), we decided to call it a night, but not before trying out again one of the local chip shops. I tell you know, in Belgium they don’t do Chips & Gravy, or even vinegar for that matter and apparently Chips & Mayonnaise is the flavour of the month, and that was 50p extra! We finally made it back to the hostel just before last orders to grab yet again more beer, only for then to be amazed at the hippy/hobo who was dancing like a salmon floating up stream on top of a beer barrel! This was the point that I had to call it a night to those that were staying, only realising the following day they didn’t manage to get another drink anyway.
The final day of our cultural tour was very much a time for us to sort ourselves out for the journey back. So after once again indulging ourselves on the stale bread and pate downstairs, we organised what we were going to do, Taz was going to check that his car was still there and hadn’t been stolen while some of us sorted out any last minute shopping shit to do. during this process someone managed to lose their phone and after purchasing a t-shirt, a scarf and loads of tobacco, we finally were ready to leave. Of course said person’s phone was in his bag all along and this was only discovered after he checked his own bag and stormed off back towards the hostel extremely pissed off!
|Money was no object when it came to sleeping facilities….|
You would think that, that would be the end of our adventure, but no there was still time for us to get lost trying to get off the ring road that surrounds Brugge, lucky for us a couple of doughnuts got us out of trouble in no time. Then of course we had to break down on the motorway and try and fix both of Taz’s rear suspensions as the weight of all our capri gear and three fat blokes caused the rubber to slip off. There was also still time for us to miss our train as not only did an old fella park a mile away from the self check-in terminal, and unlike his French counter part the British border patrol took ages to go through the queues at Calais, but they still had the spirit to take the piss out of Taz’s Cube one last time. Even the train journey home where you had the usual safety announcements over the PA caused alarm when after the English announcement and the French announcement you had a weird sort of West African/Speech impediment thing going on which confused the fuck out of us! Luckily after this the ride home was nice and quiet and was only intermittent with the random football song or comment of FLEUR!!!!!!
|Uuuummmm. You broke it.|
Well there you have it our weekend away in Brugge, somehow no one died or got arrested, I don’t know how, but it didn’t happen. Now is the time too lick our wounds over how much we all spent and prepare for our first game for the season, Eastleigh away…….
Still, might have a couple new songs maybe…….
If you need anything explained……
Talk to Taz, don’t ask me, I ain’t got a scooby………
I need a drink……