1st of February 2008 - 4th of February 2008
Liverpool - Sunderland
score: 3-0 (56' min Crouch 1-0, 68' min Torres 2-0, 88' min Gerrard (pen) 3-0)
Finally! The Dutch Mackems went to Liverpool. We were talking about this for years to combine football and music, but now it became a reality. There were also two "new" Dutch Mackems involved. The regulars Guppio, Pep, Drew, Peur and Nick were joined by Frido and Nilis. Nilis is a huge Beatles fan and he has never been to Liverpool before. Football was just an addition to his trip, but his biggest wish was to get into the Cavern Club, if it could at least be for 5 minutes with these blokes. Can we do that?
1st of February. The seven blokes were dropped at the Nachtegaal in Lisse to get by bus to Schiphol Airport. The atmosphere was good from the start. We flew with Easyjet, and they depart from a different side of Schiphol than Murphy's Irish pub. But Nick had scheduled boarding time a bit safe (as ever), so no problem. After a nice early pint and breakfast for Pep we could take the long walk to the Easy Jet departure lounge. We arrived on scheduled time at John Lennon Airport (what brought tears to Nilis' eyes), but the customs didn't get that fast. Of course with a flight from Amsterdam! Finally we got out of the airport and into a taxi to our guesthouse. The Blenheim Guesthouse was situated a bit outside the city centre. It was a great attraction for all Beatle fans. Stu Sutcliffe, a former Beatle from the early years, had lived in that house. The guesthouse bar was full of photo's, newspapers and other Stu memorabilia. So again tears for Nilis, and we decided to have a couple of pints in the guesthouse bar, so Nilis could have a good look around. During the flight we had already discussed who would be in which room. There were a couple of options (music-room, squash-room) but we decided to have a 100kg+ room (4 pers) and a 100kg- room (3 pers). Nick and Frido arrived early in the 100kg+ room and they got the two single beds. So there was no choice for Nilis and Peur, they had to get into the very narrow double bed! The Liverpool born Hillegom 5 player John Mirkin had told us to stop at a street near our guesthouse for some great pubs and bars (Lark Lane), so when it had stopped raining, off we went.
The first pub we found was Alberts'. It was not very busy and we also noticed that everybody had their coats still on. We took ours off and ordered some burgers. But after a while we noticed why everybody had their coats still on. It was almost freezing inside. But the burgers kept our tummies warm, and when we had finished our food, we went into a room at the back of the pub where it was a bit warmer. But no-one was in here! Strange! After another couple of pints it was time for Nilis to smoke a cigarette. He came back in with a beermat. It had written on it some pubs that we had to visit that same night. So we called for a taxi and off to the next pub: the Symphony. Another strange pub. All windows were glass-in-lead, there was marble on the floor and it had wooden benches. But anyway, we ordered a pint and a Gin-Tonic for Nilis. Drew joined a table with two English ladies, but after two pints we had seen enough. Off to the next pub.
After a short walk we arrived in the city-centre, and we saw an Irish pub. It was very busy there and we went inside. That was a good place to be. Scottisch 2nd division football on the telly, so what else do we need. The pints kept coming and Nilis had another fag. He heared from some other fag-ers outside that the Cavern Club wasn't that far away from the Irish pub. Could he complete his mission already on the first night out? So when he came in again he asked us to get to the next stop, and no-one complained. Wow, that was easy ! Off we go....
So on the first night out, we already went to the Cavern Club. After the usual piss, we were all getting a bit impressed and quiet. We looked around and knew this was a very historical place to be. But enough thinking, time for another round. There was a band playing, so we also had a look there. Nilis' mission was completed. Five minutes turned into two hours and then it was time for a snack and back to the guesthouse. Of course Nilis had to show his new bought t-shirt of the Cavern Club. And why not showing it while you are waiting for your food. After the cheesy chips and the kebab we got into a taxi who dropped us safe off outside the Blenheim guesthouse. But that looked dangerous. The guesthouse bar was open for 24hrs a day. So time for another pint and after that we finally got into our beds.
Saturday: Matchday! First of all a good English breakfast and a couple of cokes (!) in Stu's bar. We had to wait there for Jonathan to arrive from Sunderland. We tried to get him into the same guesthouse for the night, but that didn't work out. He decided to drive up and down just for the game, and he had our tickets in his pocket! When Jon had arrived we got into a taxi to the city centre, and we got into the Irish pub again. It was crowded yesterday, but it was packed now. Of course a lot of Liverpool tops and Peur didn't take his coat off as he was wearing a Sunderland polo-shirt. But there were absolutely no problems. After some pints we decided to get into a less crowded pub. The Midland. This was the right place to be. A lot of elderly people and even a Waldorf and Stadler. We could at least have some conversation in here and also a couple of pints. Nick also texted Mark and Sam and they would get to the Midland as well. Time was flying and we had to walk to Anfield. We asked some Liverpool supporters where Anfield was. They told us it was a very long walk, so we called for two taxis to drop us off near Anfield. We had some time left for a burger or two and then get inside the ground to see what Anfield looks like....
It was in one word breathtaking. This is a real football ground. We had a good spot. The away-area was situated in the corner of the ground. It was the same side as where the Sunderland players were warming up, so we got close to the pitch and shouted something in Dutch to Raymond van der Gouw who was working with goalkeeper Gordon. After the usual You'll never walk alone (goosepimps) it was just the Sunderland supporters who sang (or it sounded like it, as we were sitting in the middle of it). The first half was a bit boring. No real chances on either side, so 0-0 at half time. This would change in the second half. Liverpool scored three, but the penalty at the end of the game was a bit dubious and Sunderland had two good opportunities when they were 1-0 down. If only...... Now we could get home with a 3-0 score, but I didn't had the feeling that they outplayed us.
It was back to the city centre again. We agreed with Mark and Sam to meet again at the Midland pub. There was no taxi available this time! So we had to walk. Half way we made a stop at a pub. Jonathan joined us for a coke. The place was almost empty, so we had our drinks that quick. After a while a funny looking man with big ears came in. He told us to find a different seat at the back of the bar. He was the DJ for the night and he wanted to put his gear on, right in front of us. He told us: "I am not that good, but I am f#ck*ng loud". Well we were just finishing our drinks and wanted to leave for the city centre, but now he got our attention. We stayed for a while, but we we heard a nice mix of two songs while he was ordering a drink at the bar, we knew enough. Off to the Midland pub and Jonathan went back to the Blenheim guesthouse where he had parked his car. He still had a long drive to Sunderland to do.
We got into a taxi and arrived around the same time as Mark and Sam at the Midland. Mark had changed his clothes and he looked like a real (small) bouncer. We ordered a couple of drinks and enjoyed ourselves. But the night before at the Cavern tasted like more, so we headed for the Cavern again. Mark wanted to see the Cavern as well, so we did it just for Mark. It turned out into a great night out. The DJ was perfect. He played songs we all really like and even Drew was dancing when he played Lyla from Oasis. Mark and Sam were also enjoying themselves. We doubled the two hours from the night before, but then it was finally time for a snack. After the snack we had to find a taxi. There were some troubles in finding a free one, but when Pep told a taxidriver that we would pay more than the meter was telling and more than the one who booked the taxi, the first taxi driver he told it to let us in. We finished the night with a pint in Stu's bar and then off to bed.
Sunday; Beatles day. After another delicious breakfast it was time for Beatles day. We had the Magical Mystery Tour bus booked at 2PM. We had to go to Albert Dock for this. There was also a Beatles museum. So first stop there. There was a large que, but Nilis got in que. We decided to try to get some cash first and then join him at the museum. After we had left, Nilis texted us that he was in. The entrance was for groups at once. Inside you got a headset so you could go when and where-ever you like. We got into a lounge-bar (for a piss) and the time for the tour was getting nearer. No museum for us then. After a while Nilis came into the lounge-bar. Well we thought it was him, cause it was just bags with new Beatles memorabilia that came in and we heared his voice from behind it. Brilliant. He kept talking on and on. But we had to leave for the bus, otherwise we would have missed it.
The bus took us to Harrison's house in the first place. But it was situated in a small alley where the bus couldn't come. Great! The bus stopped right in front of a pub. Everyone out of the bus for a short walk to Harrison's house. Except for....5 Dutch blokes. They had to get inside the pub for a piss. So it was just Nillis and Frido who saw Harrison's house "live", but the other five were in good shape again. After stops at Strawberry Fields, John Lennon's home, Paul McCartney's home, Penny Lane and Ringo's home we were all really impressed. It was a great tour and a fantastic tour-host with some great stories. We made a lot of photos and what is a better place to end the tour then at....the Cavern Club. We got down the famous stairs again. There was one man with a guitar on stage playing all Beatle songs. It was very quiet, so we could walk around, look at all memorabilia on the wall and have a pint again. It turned out into another four hours in the Cavern. But what was missing on this trip until this point? A good curry! Around 8 PM we left the Cavern and walked in the pooring rain to the first Indian restaurant we noticed. The waiter surprised us. He took his time and asked every single one of us what our specific wishes were. And we had a fantastic meal!
Our bellies were full again, so into the taxi to the Blenheim guesthouse. We were that early, so there was time enough for some talking and drinking in Stu's bar. Except for Drew who couldn't even finish a coke, cause "his stomach was still full from that bl**dy Chinese restaurant". Nilis also started a great fashion show with all his new bought shirts from the Beatle museum. He also showed his favourite. He was desperetly looking for the Sgt. Pepper shirt, but this one was only available in Medium size. No problem, it will be training in the gym for the next months for Nilis. We also spended some extra pounds on some Sambuca and then again bedtime turned up.
Monday; leaving day. But we left late afternoon, so there was time for some shopping! Everyone was looking for something different (Frido: music, Drew: sports, Nick & Peur: sports, music and kids stuff) so we decided to all go our own way. But where can we meet again? What is a place we all can find in a strange city? Great idea. 1PM we will meet again in the Cavern. So after the shopping we got into the Cavern for the fourth day in a row. We found it a bit strange that we didn't get our usual round when we came in. After our last farewell pint we got into a taxi which took us back to John Lennon airport. The flight back to Amsterdam was on scheduled time, so we were back in Holland again and could look back to a great trip. Of course every trip has got it's great and special moments, but we all agreed that this one might go into history as the best trip ever! (up till now...)
(written by Nick)