24th of April 2009 - 26th of April 2009
West Bromwich Albion - Sunderland
score: 3-0 (40' min Olson 1-0, 58' min Brunt 2-0, 88' min Menseguez 3-0)
Day 1 - Friday 24th of April 2009
At 7.30 AM, my dad and me pick Drew up and we drive off to Schiphol where the flight is scheduled for 9.40 AM. I have already got some text-messages from Paddy and Edgar who'd already left Breda trainstation at 6.00 AM. For the next trip they demand that we leave from at least Eindhoven airport. When I tell them we've already done that once (Dublin pre-season) and they decided not to go with us, they know they're talking to deaf ears. At 8.00 AM we join a huge que at the desk of low budged airline BMI Baby. There's three flights scheduled for that morning and all three within 5 minutes of each other. So around 300 people have to check in at the same time. After around twenty minutes we are within touching distance of the desk when the lady behind that desk asks us to join a different que, because she is closing.... If looks could kill, we might not get through customs anymore. But fortunatly the lady who's next in line in the que next to us is very nice and understandable. She let's us get in front of her so we are still the next being helped.
The rest is going very well. Quick through customs en off to the D-wing. And at the D-wing there's also....Murphy's pub. So a quick stop at Murphy's, off to the gate, boarding and we're flying. At 10.10 AM local time we arrive at East Midlands airport where Jon and Kathy pick us op in the arrivals hall. After we said a big hello we're of to their cars and we drive to the new hometown of Jon & Kathy: Lowdham. This is a small village close to East Midlands airport and close to Nottingham. Because of some roadworks we have to do a small detour and is there little time for a sightseeing tour in Lowdham. We make a quick stop in the Old Ship inn where Paddy and Edgar will stay for the two nights. They've got just time to drop the bags in their room, try if their key fits and then off to Jon & Kathy's home to drop off Nick and Drew's bags (they stay at Jon & Kathy's). There is still some time for handing over the usual presents. This time it was Drew and Nick's turn to think about a text for the poloshirt. It became a smart looking polo with a white line and the NAC Breda crest and the Sunderland crest on it (2x the Sunderland crest on the heart and 2x the NAC Breda crest on the heart), and Drew got a special one with the Ajax crest and the Sunderland crest on it. But Drew was not too happy with it. He felt like a lonely boy, the only one without a NAC Breda crest (and he was also the only one with a blue shirt, because he always says that red doesn't look good on him). Then it's off to West Bridgeford. This is a small village on the outskirts of Nottingham. This is where Kathy grew up. We end up in a pub called the Test Match. And these are the kind of pubs that maken Paddy and Nick totally happy. They've got eight different real ales on the menu. They decide to try them all and decide which one is their favourite. So why not start with number 8 and in the second round they both get number 7. We also get something to eat in here. We all get a delicious burger with the legendary reggae reggae sauce on it, together with chips and vinegar (and mayonaise of course) and then off to our next appointment.
Jon booked us on a tour in the Forest Ground, the stadium of Kathy's favourite: Nottingham Forest. The ground is within walking distance of the pub. When we arrive we are welcomed by an enthousiastic and good listening to guide who works for 60 years at Forest. He's witnessed some up and downs over the years and knows what he is talking about. He takes us into the trophy room with the famous European Champions Cup where Kathy says: "that's the closest you will ever get, Nick"). We also get into the police office with the prison-cells, the stands, the control room and the dug-outs. He takes his time and explains everything very well. We are deeply impressed by this historical place where a lot of great football matches have been played.
After this we have to walk on to our next appointment. Very close to the Forest Ground is Trent Bridge Cricket Ground. We also get a very warm welcome here by a man who's trying to interest us into cricket. We still aren't to sure if we are impressed by the game, but we are about the ground. What an amazing ground this is. Huge and all the old details are well kept in original state. We are informed about some historical facts and almost bump inot a BBC interview. Nottinghamshire has played that afternoon and won their game. The players and press are still inside the ground.
After these great experiences we walk back to the Test Match pub. We get number 6 of the real ales and then off by car to Jon and Kathy's home. We have got time for some relaxing and tv watching on a giant LCD screen and at 6.30 it is off for dinner at the Springfield inn in Lowdham. Jon takes us there in two rides. The car can stay at Springfield inn, so Jon and Kathy can also get a couple of drinks. Springfield inn is a nice tradirional inn. The food is also traditional and delicious. We enjoy ourselves. After that we take a long walk to Jon and Kathy's with two stops at even more traditional pubs. The first stop is at Worlds end where even we feel young and the second stop is at the Ship inn (or call it "home" for Paddy and Edgar) for a couple of real ales. Around 11 PM we decide to go to bed, all satisfied.
Day 2 - Saturday 25th of April 2009
After a good night of sleep we wake up fully fit and even got time for some toast with Edammer cheese (we are Dutch you know). Paddy and Edgar arrive early and were the first ones to wake up at the Ship inn. There was no one around, even not someone to cook breakfast. So they also get toast with Edammer and then it is off to Lowdham station for a train to Nottingham. Lowdham had got a great small train station. The railroad crossing still has to be turned on from a small house next to the crossing. Of course there is no network available for your mobile phone, so a busy texting Drew looks a bit nervous. Fortunately we spot a pigeon in a tree who picks up Drews message and delivers it on the right adress. From Nottingham we suppose to get the train to Birmingham, but the next train to Birmingham is cancelled because of a road accident. The train after that is delayed and Jon sees some problems coming up. He decides we take a detour and get on the train to Leicester. From Leicester we get into Birmingham and there we take another train to within walking distance of the Hawthorns. Because of all this travelling we haven't had a single drink. We can make a short burger-stop, but that's it, time to get to the stands. This time we are lucky and even have some time left for a drink in the stands. The away area in the Hawthorns is (just like everything in the area) especially made for people with the maximum size of Roel van Velzen. Paddy, Edgar and Nick are trying to get their legs in front of their seats and behind the backs of the seats in the row in front of them. It is almost impossible. The boy who sits in front of Nick leans back once and Nick shouts in pure pain. Luckily this was a 16 year old bloke who didn't dare to do this again for the rest of the match. Imagine a type old Andy Fordham in front of you.....
The game is one to quickly forget and don't spend to mucht time writing about it. After a great Kieran Richardson strike who was brilliantly saved by West Brom goalie Carson, the game turned into dramatic scenes. On the stroke of half time it was ex-NEC Nijmegen defender Jonas Olson who scored the 1-0. In the second half Sunderland didn't show up and West Brom scored two more goals. The Sunderland fans were furious. There was no commitment at all and the play was awful. Manager Sbragia said on the BBC that he felt sorry for the fans who were at the game and took the long journey. Well, that's it then. Excuses from the manager!
Time for another long journey to Nottingham. Apart from the longer walking distance from the ground to the station (one side was closed now), everything went our way. From the small local train station at West Brom we went into Birmingham and there we got within two minutes the direct train to Nottingham. At 7.15 PM we arrived at the Test Match. We still had 5 real ales on the menu. We had about 3 hours for these five, because Jon had booked an Indian restaurant at 10.30 for a curry. Even after a result like today it turned out into a great night. And after that even better. Paddy and Edgar got smiles on their faces again after receiving text messages that NAC Breda won 2-3 that night. Just before we should leave the owner Alan and his wife Sarah joined our table. The night went away too quick. At 10.15 Jon called for the final round, but after a short meeting we all agreed that it was way too early to leave and weren't that hungry anymore. So Jon called the Indian restaurant. And now it was time to party. Alan turned on his i-pod and one great song followed the other one. The real ales kept floating and the signes kept coming up (this real ale is off). Number 2 was Nick's winning real ale en Paddy crowned number 6 as a winner. Of course we swapped some shirts in the end and before we knew it the taxi was waiting outside at 3.30 AM (closing time was 0.00). Another great night. Thanks Alan and Sarah for this great night and also thanks for a lot of drinks that we weren't allowed to pay for....
Day 3 - Sunday 26th of April 2009
At 10.00 AM we got a wake-up message from Jon. Time for some action, because at 11.30 AM there was a table booked for Sunday lunch at the Plough inn. Jon and Kathy had to pick up the car at the Test Match so Drew and me had some time to freshen up. So we did. Paddy and Edgar arrived and have had a full breakfast this time. Then it was off to the Plough inn. This was also a traditional inn, so time to enjoy a real traditional Sunday raost. After this delicious roast there was a spare hour for some shopping in Nottingham city centre and then off to East Midlands airport. Jon and Kathy dropped us off at 5.00 PM and we walked to the check in desk. The lady behind the counter of this low budget airline told us that we were supposed to check-in online. Now we had to pay an additional 6 GBPounds extra per person for the check-in. We think that on the way to East Midlands, the woman behind the counter didn't dare to tell us that.... After the check-in and the customs control (where Drew had to leave his bottle of reggae reggae sauce) there was time for two more pints on English territory and then into the plane and within 50 minutes we arrived at Schiphol airport.
Another end to a Sunderland trip. This time one with a dramatic result. It is very close and tense at the bottom of the table. We hope we can pick up some points in the last 4 games...
(written by Nick)