Saturday, October 07, 2006

FC Girondins Bordeaux – PSV (27-09-2006)

Going to international away games of my favorite team is something special… although I do visit a (new) foreign ground, it doesn’t feel exactly like a groundhop as I am only partly interested in the home team. Sure, I look forward to seeing the ground, feeling the atmosphere, but I will stand with the away supporters and be focused exclusively on the result of my boys.

Around 7 AM I walk to Antwerp Central Station, as always when I am outside so early completely surprised by the number of people in the streets. My friend and fellow PSV-fan J.B. picks me up at Mechelen Station just after 8. To avoid the traffic jams around Brussels we drive via Antwerp and Ghent to France. Just before 10 we cross the border at Lille… only 800 km more and we are at our final destination: Bordeaux in the Southeast of France.

The weather is not too bad and the traffic is mild, so we arrive already around 6 PM in Bordeaux – we only got lost once, around Charles de Gaulle airport (what an unbelievable labyrinth of roads is that). Given that we have more than enough time, and the weather is nice, we decide to go into the center of town to check out the sites. J In the main shopping street we find one of the shops of FCGB and I buy a small pennant. Although their shirts are no longer as beautiful as in the late 1970s/early 1980s, I still think Girondins plays in beautiful colors. We play it safe and eat at the Quick, where we try to avoid some fellow PSV-fans (who are embarrassing us by their behavior), and establish that the term fast food is not accurate for this particular branch of the hamburger chain.

At about 8 PM we park the car at an underground parking close to the stadium – only 2 euro for the whole evening. I am getting increasingly nervous about the game, but we take our time to circle the stadium, which is at the side of an expensive area. Particularly impressive is the entrance of the VIPs.

The Stade Chaban-Delmas is an extraordinary building. It is not really beautiful, but it does have its own style. Particularly the bow at one of the entrances is unique.

After taking all the necessary pictures and circling the whole stadium we show our ticket and get access to the Virage Nord Est Bas, where the circa 200 PSV supporters are gathered. I don’t know, I always look forward to meet my fellow supporters when I attend a PSV away game, yet when I enter the stadium and am enclosed with them, I feel like an alien. Although there were only a small number of PSV fans who had made their way to the south of France, the atmosphere was good and part of the fans kept singing all game long.

The FCGB fans, who were not that numerous either (total of some 26.000), only sang very loudly at the beginning of the games, were the two sides behind the goals were singing against each other. This was also when they showed their banners.

The game might not have been particularly good for a neutral observer, but this was irrelevant for me this time. I was extremely nervous all game long, even if it soon became clear that Girondins Bordeaux does not have such a strong team this season; moreover, star player Johan Micoud just came back from an injury and played only one half and fairly poorly. PSV missed Cocu, Farfan and Culina and that showed. Defensively we played well, but offensively we couldn’t do too much. As a consequence the game was pretty even and without many chances. 0-0 at half time and I went down to visit our friends from the French police. ;-)

In the second half the game remained relatively poor, but PSV got a bit more controle of the game. Half of the fans of our block sang virtually the same song for 45 minutes, but that created more atmosphere than the 26.000 FCGB fans could generate. More and more we started to believe that a victory would be possible, even though very few chances were created on either side. But then, out of nowhere, Väyrynen finally knew where to go, Koné finally provided a good short pass, and Väyrynen finished cool and precise in the far low corner. The 200 PSV fans went crazy, while the rest of the Stade went silent. The last 15 minutes or so we sang our boys through to the end of the game, which indeed finished 0-1. A great result and a great experience, which was only somewhat diminished by the fact that virtually none of the PSV players came to thanks the few fans that had made the more than 1.000 km trip from Eindhoven (or Antwerp for that matter).

After the game we walked to a kebab place around the corner where we ate something and enjoyed the last 30 minutes of the game again on Canal +. After that we picked up our car and drove for two hours to our hotel around Niort. Arriving after 2, we had a good rest and made our way back to Flanders the next morning around 9.30. Traffic was excellent and all went well until just before getting home, when a big piece of clay fell of a truck in front of our car and smashed a hole in the window. Fortunately the window held and the insurance paid, so the fantastic trip wasn’t spoiled by something so mundane as a big chunk of mud!

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