31st of July 2002
Royal Antwerp FC - Sunderland
score: 1-1 (36' min Nielsen 1-0, 61' min Jody Craddock 1-1)
A midweek pre-season friendly in Belgium. But this wasn't that far as St Truiden and Gent for us (only 2 hour drive), and Drew and Nick had their summer holiday, so they decided to drive up and down for the match.
We arrived around 5 PM at Antwerp, and we got into a pub near the ground. We had some drinks and some food and after that we decided to have a look at the ground. It was a very old place. We got inside (about 2 hours before kick-off) and thought we could get a drink in there. But nothing was available. So back to the pub then, but that was also a problem. "When you're in, you can't get out anymore, or otherwise you can't get in anymore" the man from the security said. He wasn't that friendly. Even when I spoke to him in Dutch (he didn't understand/speak English very well) he didn't change his mind. So we had to stay in (with about 50 more Sunderland fans). The players-bus arrived. The also got into our area and the players had to get out of the bus in front of us. So I had a good opportunity to show Peter Reid a photo of Dirk Kuyt ! When Peter Reid got out of the bus, I gave him the photo. "Thanks" he said, and "But I know him".
I had never seen such a crap place as the Bosuil stadium. Everything was very old, the toilets were just cracked walls and our away-area was just cracked concete stairs. It was awful and it looked like it could fall down when there were too many people on it. The atmosphere wasn't friendly at all. There were a lot of anti-Peter Reid chants. The crowd was very cynical and so were their songs. Sunderland were 1-0 down at half time. At half time Mark and Sam also arrived. They arrived by bike and had a lot of problems with their bike. But they were in time to see a strange Jody Craddock equalizer. It was a Claudio Reyna free kick which hit Craddock in the stomach and trickled over the line. In the closing minutes it was a superb Sorensen save that saved a draw for Sunderland.
After the game there was still no good atmosphere. We were kept inside the stadium for about another half an hour after the game. The home fans were trying to make us angry and were sure looking for trouble. The Sunderland fans were already almost boiling by the way they were treated by the local security, so temperature was rising. Drew and I decided that we didn't want to get involved in this and we left immediatly after we could get out. We promised Mark and Brian that we would meet again on Saturday for the AA Gent game.
(written by Nick)