He was about 5’ 6” and had a moustache. Think Benny from Abba (PORN KLAXON) without the sultry blonde/brunette in tow.
I love Abba and was bang into them before any of you Johnny-come-latelys too. I was in a club in town about twenty years ago and the last song of the night was Dancing Queen. It took me pleasantly by surprise and a mate reassuringly said, ‘If they’re playing Abba here, it means they’re coming back.’ ‘Tremendous’, I thought. The second coming of a non-religious kind. But all it did was create a load of glory-hunting Abba fans who barely knew anything other than that Dancing Queen track. Even wedding D.Js relegated Billy Ocean’s ‘When the Going Gets Tough’, as a result of the Swedish renaissance. I hate Dancing Queen now because it’s been hammered to death which is a real shame.
So, Benny! To compliment his distinctive appearance, this diminutive man had an outstanding winter jumper on; a thick, woollen affair, mainly royal blue with a bold white diagonal stripe from top right to bottom left. In the centre of the stripe was three red hearts equally spaced. If there was a jumper version of the MOTD opening credits, this would be the Ronnie Radford equivalent. Resplendent, he stood on a table in the centre of the bar orchestrating about 100 Feyenoord fans to the tune of ‘Daisy Daisy’. As he (and the pub in general) swayed side to side, arms raised high, we soaked it up.……’give me your answer doooo.’
It could have been so different had the two Dutch lads not stopped us from entering another bar an hour earlier. Their advice was clear. ‘Go in there and you’ll get a kicking’. Fair play we thought, except for the smallest lad in our group who insisted we went in. We took their advice and, whilst carnage reigned in other parts of the city, we ended up with Benny regaling us rather than him singing a funereal ode to the ‘Feyenoord eight’, as we could have been known.
Banter (which wasn’t invented as a word back then) was shared in Benny’s bar for a good couple of hours, particularly when we discovered we were not as outnumbered as we thought. ‘You make me happy, when skies are grey…’, punctured Benny’s orchestration much to our delight. Reds were here…. Then we supped up and headed to the De Kuip.
A lack of roof will always bother me – it’s one of my pet hates – and the De Kuip suffered from this for years. Thankfully that was addressed for our visit. The ground back then, 1997, had undergone improvements from those days of European finals but the modernisation was merely catching up as opposed to renovating beyond recognition. It was a two tiered oval shaped ground and atmosphere wise it was excellent; the fervent home support matching the usual volume and togetherness an away end brings to proceedings.
The beauty of watching football in Holland (and many other places in Northern Europe) is the opposition fans ability to rip into you, in English. Feyenoord used multiple English sticks to try and beat us with, whilst we responded in fluent Dutch and mocked their clogs, pancakes and perceived inferiority complex to their hated rivals Ajax. Alright, so it wasn’t quite fluent Dutch, but it would have been great if it was which is a bit like saying, ‘she wasn’t Anniston but, my goodness, if she had been?’
To say Feyenoord have a reputation for being a bit feisty is putting it mildly. The local police needed to ‘Benny Hill’ baton charge the home fans throughout the game and, just to add some colour, a golf umbrella was intertwined with myriad objects used to attack the away end. I’m sure that’s what Callaway had in mind back in the factory.
After the game we headed to Amsterdam to kill some time and what a wondrous sight it was that awaited us….A DOUBLE DECKER TRAIN - Yessssssss. I love trains so to get two for the price of none (due to an unfortunate herding issue) was brilliant.
After about six hours in the Dam we headed back to Schipol to get a train to the Hook of Holland ferry. Our collective alcoholic disorientation meant we boarded the train ticketless, again. We got collared by the guards and they asked us to cough up. The only ticket offered was a forlorn looking match ticket and, for some reason, this didn’t cover eight lads on a train without eight train tickets. They started to get uppity, quite rightly, and the demand for payment/tickets was clear – they weren’t budging.
Before anyone reached for some of the money that had been shared by our hosts during the match, one lad dug deep into his Star Wars reservoir of one-liners and piped up, ‘these are not the droids you’re looking for.’ With that the guards did just ‘move along’. Cherry- icing-cake.
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