Thursday, August 02, 2007

Groundhopweekend February 2005

My, my, what a weekend! I cannot remember the last time I was so cold! And I mean C-O-L-D!!! And on this cold(est) weekend I was groundhopping. Yep, and it again didn’t exactly go as planned.

Hannover Scorpions -- Iserlohn Roosters (25-02-2005)

On Friday afternoon my brother T.M. and a friend of him picked me up at Schiphol airport and we were on our way to Hannover to see a game in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL). Having driven around the traffic jams we arrived more than an hour in advance to the beautiful, brand-new TUI Arena. The hall can hold 10.600 people for icehockey games, which makes it a large-size ring. For this game some 6.000 people turned up, among whom a remarkable number of girls and women.

We bought tickets for a standing place behind the goal for 14 euro and entered the stadium. The atmosphere was classically good, as with all sport manifestations in Germany. The icehockey was a lot less good, particularly from the hosts. They were 2-0 behind after 6 minutes and never looked like winning. The final score of 2-6 was deserved, even if Iserlohn didn’t play a top match.

After a short night in the usual F1 hotel we decided to be ambitious after all and head out to Luxemburg, in the hope to see the cup game between Progres Nierderkorn and Dudelange in the afternoon, and a game of Raon L’Etap in the Franse Championnat National (Third Division) in the evening. Almost the whole time we drove through a snowed-under Germany and at times it was still snowing. When we finally arrived at the Stade Jos Haupert, some 40 minutes before kick-off, we saw the squad practice at a training pitch. After inspection of the empty stadium and snowed-under pitch, we decided to also skip the French game and look for a safe alternative instead.

Sint-Truiden VV -- AA Gent (

And so we drove without any rush to Sint-Truiden in Belgian Limburg. After a short stop at Frituur Juliette (hmmmm) we drove to the stadium to make sure that we could also buy a ticket without a Fancard. The security was watertight: Fancard or identity papers.... or just giving your name. J Thus we bought a ticket for just 7.50 euro and spent the next 60 minutes in Cafe Stadion, warming ourselves and watching the game Hertha-HSV on tv.

It was freezing in 'the hell of Staaien', but fortunately the game was less boring than the last time I visited STVV. This was mainly the merit of AA Gent, who scored early in the game. Thereafter the vistors remained the better team, though most remarkable was how poor STVV is. Only Benji de Keulenaar is a good player, but by himself he was obviously unable to defeat AA Gent.
In the end “the Buffalos” won 0-2 and we drove with frozen toes to Antwerp.

KV Kortrijk -- Excelsior Virton (27-02-2007)

After a good night rest in my own bed, and a delicious cup of coffee, we set off to Kortrijk (in West Flanders) for a game in the middle bracket of the Tweede Klasse (Second Division). We knew it was going to be freezing col, but when we got caught in a snow storm just outside of Ghent we were starting to worry for another cancellation. Fortunately the snow storm was local; in fact, it hadn’t even snowed in Kortrijk.

At 14.15 we arrived at the ramshackle Guldensporenstadion of KV Kortrijk. We saw almost none, except for a bus with green-white supporters. We turned out to be at the back of the stadium together with the away fans, in this case some 25 jolly Walloons from Virton. We bought a ticket for a steep 12 euro and joined the Virton fans on Tribune (Stand) 4.

All in all I don’t think more than 500 supporters were in the freezing stadium. This was a shame, as the game was not bad at all. After 5 minutes Virton was already 0-1 up and another 5 minutes later KVK had equalized. 1-1 was also the half time score but there had been some good football, particularly from Virton. In the second half both teams played much weaker, most notably the Walloons. Some 15 minutes before the end of the game Virton lost the game, when it got reduced to 10 men and, shortly after, got two goals against because of individual mistakes. Thus, the final score was 3-1 for KVK in this 6-point game.

LOSC -- Stade Rennais (

Directly after the final whistle we jumped into the car and drove to
Lille to catch a game in the French Ligue 1 (First Division) an hour later. The last time I saw LOSC, they played in the center of town. Whether or not as a consequence of renovation, Lille plays this season at the Stade Metropole, a typical athletics stadium. L We bought a ticket for just 11 euro and entered the bare, concrete stadium.

I’m going to keep it short: could, COLD, C-O-L-D!!! Man o man, how cold were we! At one time I tried to text a friend and my fingers froze so quickly that I had to stop texting and put my gloves back on (which helped only partly). And than also a 0-0 game! Still, I do recommend a visit to LOSC. Not only is Lille a pretty city (for North France), LOSC plays good and attractice football, the atmosphere is (usually) good, and the merguez americaine greasy. But do choose a day that the weather is (much) better!

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