Bram: Just A Normal Saturday

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When you talk about the biggest rivalries in Europe you’ll hear things like Manchester vs Liverpool or Barcelona vs Real Madrid. These are special for many reasons, but usually because of the history of hatred that these fans and sometimes players have for each other. Today we were going to an arch rival of Liverpool. It’s well known if your a football crazy fan like myself, but many others won’t think of the significance. We were going to the old stadium Goodison park, home of Everton FC. To paint a picture so that everyone will realize the significance of these kinds of rivalries in Europe. They really make the league what it is today. Competitive. For those of you that don’t know, the home of Liverpool FC and home of Everton FC you can see across Stanley park. Now picture a heated rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool. When one team or another wins either Liverpool fans will gloat to the fans all the way to the train station and it will be very heated but after that it’s basically done. It’s almost the same between Toronto and Montreal rivalries there’s a 6 hour train ride separating each other so you don’t get to brag endlessly till they play you again because there to far which takes away from some of the fun. Now to describe the significance between an intercity rivalry. It’s called the Merseyside derby here because that’s where it’s located. Now picture everyone your friends with, work with, drink with is either a red (Liverpool) or blue (Everton). So when you lose you can guarantee that your mate won’t let you hear the end of it until 2 or 3 months later when you play each other again. It’s also the same when you don’t play each other and your team loses they still won’t let you forget it for the rest of the week but ill go into a bit more details with that a bit later.

We were off to Everton vs West Brom the first home game of the season for Everton. And with its first new coach in 10 years after David Moyes left to coach Manchester United.

Like I said previously Goodison Park is a very old stadium and that was apparent the minute we walked to our seats. Eric had already known about the pillars in front of us partially blocking are view. I just knew something was going to be blocking our view because of what it said on our tickets. See the pictures to get a real idea at what I’m talking about. What we were really surprised with was at every stadium we’ve been too the floor of the stands has been made of cement, but this one was wood and that was really cool because it gave that feel of an old stadium. It really added to the ground for me as some of the stadiums in England and Europe have tried to keep up to date with the modern game by renovating it every 5-10 years which is great but the Evertonians and Goodison Park have stayed to their roots and have embraced the history of the stadium. The game itself wasn’t all that exciting giving us our first draw 0-0 that we have seen. But it did give us an experience of a normal match day for many of these supporters I realized that not every game can be Manchester United vs Liverpool. It also gave us a winning perspective from a fan point of view. It’s that desire from fans to get the 3 points from every game. I don’t know if we’ll experience a loss on this trip, but if we don’t this will be as close as we come. Coming out from the stadium you could hear a world of complaints from everyone about what they should have done better. It wasn’t like they had lost the game but they played poorly. If they had been playing a team like Real Madrid and had lost fair and square I think a lot more people would just be like ok we just got beat. You would always have an ambitious supporter who would complain and moan. However, my point is that today they lost 3 precious points in this extremely competitive league and they now have to have that feeling all week during school and at work where they know they played badly and it’s not like the Liverpool supporters will let them forget it.

The post game had to be the best part of the day for me as you saw rival teams taking the piss out of each other. Everton was expected to win so it was even sweeter to Liverpool fans to rub in their face. We went to a local pub to watch this unfold as we were also there to see Liverpool away vs Aston Villa.

We both had to go to the bathroom and I’m not going to give you details but this is an essential part of the story. I went into the stall and two guys walked in and they shouted at Eric “Red or Blue?” Eric said Red and they gave him a whole bunch of shit so Eric quickly said we were just at the Everton game! So he let him pass. I had already known he was a blue by hearing it in the stall and I don’t know why I did it but when they asked me the famous question Red or Blue? I said neither. The guy then said “who the fuck are you a supporter of then?” I wasn’t about to tell a blue supporter that I was a fan of the team that just took there hero of a coach (Manchester United) so thinking on the spot I told him I was a PSV fan and he took that to mean that I was Dutch and I was ok with this. Technically I am so I wasn’t fully lying to the lad I just didn’t exactly live there like he thought. He started to really like me and believe me I don’t sound the least like I’m Dutch but the amount of vodka this man had taken he wasn’t going to notice. He really started to like me talking about how he really wanted to visit “my country” and about drugs and other stuff. I left as quick as I could and went to go find Eric at the bar. I thought that was going to be the last time we saw them so I figured I’d tell Eric after they left what happened, but they stumbled over and started to talk to me again. So I quickly messaged Eric on my phone and told him what’s up he laughed and just played along… A little later after talking to them for the majority of the first half Eric told them he was also from Eindhoven and they had completely forgotten that he was a red. They truly bought the whole thing and then Eric told him my true last name, (van Bommel who for those of you that don’t know is a famous PSV legend and Netherlands captain) which the one hardcore blue went mental over. Apparently this was his favorite player (Mark van Bommel) and I was his new best friend and Eric told him his last name was van hdtuhsyf can’t exactly remember but the guy was like oh he doesn’t play for the national team! The whole time everything was a bit on edge cuz if he made us and stopped believing we were really from the Netherlands we’d be in trouble also we didn’t know if Eric’s cousin was going to be making the last bit of the game. He told us he’d try so we didn’t want him to walk in and ruin our little secret. It was intense but things turned out for the best and we just had a really cool story to tell.

To conclude, every stadium is unique in any other stadium I would have complained about the restricted view, but its an old stadium. Back then this was normal we were in the fans supporters end cheering on the blue of Everton with some fans that would remember the good old days where the places we sat may have been terraces. We came to explore football supporter culture and we got an average day for an Englishmen or family. If this is an average day then sign me up!

Eric: Surrounded By Football

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Bram and I couldn’t help but do a bit of writing about our first two days in England. Before heading off to London for the 2013 FA Community Shield at Wembley Stadium, as well as touring a number of historic grounds, we had 48 hours in Liverpool to unpack our bags and put our feet up for a bit. At least, that was the plan. Who would have thought that 2 days in which we didn’t visit a single stadium could have such an impact on the way we perceived supporter passion? I believe I can speak for the both of us on this point, as we both mentioned repeatedly how overjoyed we were with It’s Football Day’s introduction to the English football lifestyle.

Cue the football-related madness!

We landed in Manchester Airport, and got a ride from there to West Derby, Liverpool. Inside the airport, I coincidentally met a guy who my dad played football with for a number of years. Then, since it was my great-uncle who picked us up, our first conversation as we stepped outside the airport was about the most recent updates in the Luis Suarez transfer saga. In the car, a selection of local papers was waiting for us, littered with pictures and articles about the ongoing pre-season preparations as well as the transfer window. Then, when we got to the house we were staying in, we enjoyed a full English breakfast while watching Sky Sports News.

As if that weren’t enough football all at once (in less than 2 hours mind you), my great-aunt got in from taking her young grandson for a walk. On her way home, she passed by Liverpool’s training ground, Melwood, and said a man out front had mentioned the  team was training, and was due to leave in 90 minutes or so. Naturally, Bram and I took the five minute walk down the road, and sure enough, the gate opened at 2:30pm. Over the next half hour, the players of Liverpool FC left one-by-one in their expensive cars, most stopping for a few quick pictures and autographs for the fans waiting by the driveway.

Now, it’s worth slowing down for a moment to allow non-football fans a chance to catch up, and Liverpool fans a chance to breathe. Of course, from my standpoint, as a Liverpool supporter, it’s beyond amazing to see the captain Steven Gerrard, the manager Brendan Rodgers, England internationals like Daniel Sturridge and Glen Johnson, and future stars like Philippe Coutinho, to name a few. It’s a bit hard to comprehend too how something seemingly so foreign back home, was part of this incredibly local community overseas. Walk just five minutes, and you can stand outside the training ground and watch your team practice! In Canada, we’re fortunate enough to get 90 minutes each week on television, yet we just spent four hours watching them training and getting photos with the players.

Now of course, it added something special for me that it was Liverpool FC, but had it been any other professional team, I would have been blown away as well. We had been on the road for two weeks at this point, and walked with a number of different football supporters. This though, was the first time we had the chance to be in the household of football fans, to consume such a quantity of football media, and then to be, in a matter of hours, up close with these players who we’d seen on TV.

This other-worldly perception of professional football was shattered. We were experiencing the supporter culture we had travelled across the Atlantic to discover. We were surrounded by people who work for the weekend just to meet with friends or family to watch their team play. And now, we were at the training complex of a top-flight club, literally in the heart of the suburban community, surrounded on all sides by the homes of their supporters.

As a Liverpool fan, this was surreal, but as a football fan, it really emphasized the regionalism-based pride one can find in their club.  Now, there were some people around there who were a bit dodgy. Like, putting the signed shirt on eBay that evening, dodgy. Then there were of course the hormone-driven teenaged girls whose shrieking could be heard in Manchester when the younger players like Jordan Henderson and Jordon Ibe exited the premises (note the difference in spelling in these players’ first names – their young fans were keen to emphasize this subtlety).

However, there was also a young boy, decked out head to toe in a full Liverpool kit. He seemed shy until a kid in an Everton kit bicycled past the entrance to Melwood; the boy stared the kid down and loudly booed him. This was not an unusual sight; we saw this all over Liverpool, and in many of the other English cities we visited. The older kids wouldn’t necessarily wear full kits, but the love for their home team was still evident.

It was weird though, and maybe a result of us both following the English Premier League a little more closely than other European leagues, but around the cities of these famous stadiums, that inexplainable feeling in the air on football day seemed to be present every day.

This could entirely be a product of the fact that we were staying with family of mine who are lifelong football fans, something we never really experienced prior to our arrival in England, so I naturally won’t overgeneralize by saying this is something you’ll only find in England.

However, more than any other place on our trip, football in England seemed to be more of a lifestyle than a hobby. For us, we couldn’t imagine a better definition of “home”.

Eric: Ya La Lalala Lala, Ajax Amsterdam!

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When we arrived in Amsterdam, we exited the train station to see buildings like you’d see on a postcard. It really was incredible. We had said Munich was old fashioned, and while this was too, there was a particular aspect that was different about it. It may have been the ridiculous amount of tourists surrounding us, or the fact that the shops played off the stereotypical, liberal nature of the city. Either way though, as we navigated through the Red Light District towards a pub a number Ajax supporters go to, you could certainly feel the excitement in the air ahead of kickoff.

The Amsterdam Arena looked like no other we’ve seen. It stands out amongst a series of buildings and shops that are being constructed to add a little more life around the ground. Inside, the 55,000 seats are arranged in a bowl shape, not dissimilar from the Allianz Arena in Munich the week prior. However, there is a colourful, jagged pattern across the seats that really is a spectacular sight to see.

The atmosphere inside was dependent on the play, and that’s more of a commentary on the supporter culture of Ajax than a negative, necessarily. We had been told that it is very common for Ajax supporters to possess a certain arrogance. They expect the best from their club, and know it when they see it. So, considering the opposition, Roda JC Kerkrade, weren’t the most competitive of sides going up against the defending champions, the crowd was there to see dominance, not just a 1-0 win and 3 points to start the year.

There were some catchy chants, especially when the away supporters got going in the section near us. They were gated in like prisoners, behind fences that separated them from the home fans. You could only imagine when Feyenoord’s supporters are trapped in that pen, just how intense the atmosphere would be within, as well as in the adjacent sections. It’s always good when two sets of fans can banter through song. At our match, as the game progressed, the Roda fans seemed to abandon hope of an upset victory for their side, and had a great time just trying to wind up the Ajax fans around them.

On the pitch, there were 3 goals and quite a few impressive, free-flowing plays. All in all, it was an easy win for the home side. I suppose though, that’s what the fans expected of course, as there were a number of people still on vacation based on the number of empty seats at the sold out fixture.

As our time in Germany and the Netherlands comes to a close, I’ve found we’ve learned a bit more about the nature of supporter culture. Every destination to date has been a unique experience, of course. For the Ajax match, we joined 3 supporters on an incredible journey across the country. Beginning in Heythuysen, in the south-east of the Netherlands, we spent the day going from pub, to bus, to train, to pub and then back again. As a whole, it really was an incredible day; a special experience for a neutral like myself in this instance, who was interested purely in living the life of an Ajax supporter for 24 hours. On a beer-feuled journey that seemingly was solely about football banter, we debated aspects of football rivalry, beginning when the train rode past the Philips Stadion (home of PSV Eindhoven, where we had sat the previous Tuesday night).

AFC Ajax (pronounced like “eye”-“axe” for those familiar with the Canadian city spelled the same way) is arguably the most widely supported club in the Netherlands. Based out of the nation’s capital, it is also a club with a history of incredible successes, and now play out of the visually impressive, Amsterdam ArenA (spelled with the last letter intentionally capitalized).

2 of the guys we travelled with mentioned they had followed in their father’s and grandfather’s footsteps as Ajax supporters, while the third, Nick, had a different story entirely. His father is a supporter of Feyenoord. You’ve likely heard of rivalries such as Liverpool and Manchester United, or Real Madrid and Barcelona. Well, in the Dutch league (the Eredivisie), Ajax vs. Feyenoord is that kind of match.

This intrigued me for so many reasons. Now, allow me to explain my thought process using examples from home, briefly expanding on ideas addressed in some of our early blogs. Hear me out though, because while it may sound critical at first, I discovered something particularly interesting regarding the subject of “picking” your team, on this leg of the trip. This concept I will touch upon more in our post-trip blogs, but it’s worthwhile to consider the subject in the context of this particular match day.

Born and raised in Toronto, the Toronto sports franchises are the only ones I would ever support. I’ve seen plenty of people from Toronto wearing Montreal or Pittsburgh hockey jerseys, New York or Boston baseball caps, and Los Angeles or Miami basketball gear. To this day, I still don’t understand who would want to do that.

I say that as a fan of a hockey team that hasn’t won a trophy in nearly 50 years, and these glory hunter types with Boston Bruins shirts on may laugh. But to me it seems hollow and unfulfilling to support anyone else. These teams are supposed to represent where you’re from. Sporting history dates back hundreds of years where, without the commercialism, the contests were fought on the influence of personal pride and regionalism. Frequently you’ll hear metaphors related to war or battle when commentators speak of two rival nations. While I realize these are two completely unrelated concepts – life-threatening combat and regulated sports and games – you couldn’t imagine any Britons during the Second World War saying, “I think I fancy the Germans this time around instead”.

I put the word “pick” in quotation marks two paragraphs back, because I just think this idea of needing to choose a club is odd. When it comes to American sports, it is the Toronto franchises I follow. For football (soccer), I am a fifth-generation Liverpool supporter. These passions are rooted in community and ancestry, the two principles behind sport that we had outlined as part of our mission statement, of sorts, when conceptualizing It’s Football Day.

So, here I am, in a place I’ve never been to, with someone I’ve never met, and I find out that not only does he support a team from the other side of the country, but they are the biggest rival club to that his father supports. Now, you’d think immediately in a more Americanized context terms such as “bandwagon jumper” or “glory hunter”.

However, for some reason, and possibly for the first time, I didn’t think this. This is what I found so perplexing. Curious, I remember asking why he hadn’t chosen a VVV Venlo, or even PSV Eindhoven, being somewhat close by. To this, he responded by explaining how in a nation so small, it was easy to cross these boundaries.

There I was, floored again. Not because I found it as distasteful as a Toronto native in a Montreal shirt just because they’ve won something more recently. Rather, I was shocked because it was something I could now recognize looking back on the last few days in the Netherlands. We stayed for varying periods of time in Venray, Eindhoven, Heuthuysen, Amsterdam, Voorhout, and Leiden. In most of these cities, I saw at least one Ajax kit. Often, it was many more than that.

Now, you can guarantee that the seven year olds in full Ajax kits can really only comprehend the Ajax side of late that has set a record as the most successful team in the Dutch league. However, I wasn’t speaking with a seven year old. Subtracting the early years when you’re not really old enough to understand football allegiance, Nick has had 20 plus years of dedicated fanaticism for AFC Ajax. He was born and raised with football in the Netherlands, and has created a passion within him for a team he loves.

While this goes against the culture I know of in North America, and similarly counter to what I have experienced in England (which will be addressed during that portion of the trip), this seemed par for the course in regards to what was evident in the Netherlands. At least, for when it comes to Ajax. I know if any Feyenoord or PSV fans were to read this, they’d lose their mind. That I completely understand. Remember, my aforementioned explanation was in context with the match day experience in Amsterdam. Also, don’t think this means I’m going soft on the glory hunters. See, what made the experience special in the Amsterdam ArenA was that we could experience Nick’s passion, and that of many others as well.

Granted, there were people, as at any match of a successful team, who were there just to say they’d been. These people barely made a noise except to excuse themselves from the stadium 5-10 minutes before full time (and this happens everywhere, so its simply an observation, not a criticism). However, you see groups like Vak 410 and the F-Side, a supporter’s group and firm respectively, who have an authentic passion for the club. Then you also see people like Nick you have independently supported the club for years upon years despite growing up outside the city borders, and that is where you can respect their allegiance.

Now, as we come full circle with the concept, you may be able to see what I mean by how it connects to North American sport, the MLS in particular. You can talk for as long as you want about how bad Toronto FC is, but if you’ve never tried to support them, then what’s the point in anyone listening to your opinion?

There’s a difference between a football fan base being fickle (as all are) and being whiney. You can hate a player you loved just based on the jersey they put on (depending on the circumstances in between of course). However, the supporter culture in Canada can never grow if it isn’t nurtured by people who actually care about the quality of football in the country.

Empty seats devalue the club and disrespect devalues the club’s youth academy. While I disagree with the price of showing your support (rising ticket costs, that is), a conversation for another blog, whether it’s Toronto FC or TSV 1860 Munich, Borussia Dortmund or AFC Ajax, what makes football special is the atmosphere generated by the fans. We are the reason that players are worth millions and clubs are considered legitimate business ventures.

Our visit to Amsterdam was one of the key factors in a paradigm shifting moment of realization I had on the trip. What makes  football special, from a supporter’s point of view, is the level of passion cultivated within the individuals that make up the crowd. The atmosphere in these legendary grounds is the culmination of a lifetime of dedicated support, a release of emotion either passed on through generations or discovered independently. Through both routes though, the key is authenticity. If you can go to the match, as Nick did, because it’s an exercise in passion, then few adrenaline rushes in life can compare to cheering on your team when they score against a rival club. You can still enjoy yourself if you’ve jumped on a bandwagon, but you’re robbing yourself of that special feeling of authentic pride in “your” club.

Time will hopefully heal that which plagues Toronto FC right now. The fan base is heavily divided into groups of people who have been supporters or season ticket holders since 2007, and those who have gone simply because they’ve won a pair of tickets in a giveaway, or those who have nothing to do on a Saturday afternoon. As we’ve mentioned previously, some lacklustre results have dampened the interest of many Toronto FC supporters. However, you can still sense inside BMO Field that longing for success from the fans who, like Bram and I, continue to go to matches and support the club.

The European clubs we’re visiting have existed for upwards of one hundred years. If the merry-go-round of players and managers slows down anytime soon, it seems Toronto FC definitely has a chance to develop in the right direction. We certainly can glean evidence of this from first few seasons of the young club, meaning there’s little reason to think we couldn’t regain the title of the league’s best fans.

Either way though, just as I mentioned a few blogs back, it is ultimately down to the individuals in the stands. After all, if we don’t take our side seriously, who will?

*****

Germany and the Netherlands are now behind us. Bram has written a little more about our day to day experiences, and maybe a bit more detail of what we’ve done on match days. As he mentioned, reading our blogs about the respective clubs at the same time, can help give you a better understanding of our experiences as a whole.

We now pack our bags once more with our eyes set on England. A handful of stadiums await us in London, this is going to be great!

Bram: A Matchday for the Family

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A couple of years ago if you were to ask what team played in Manchester the majority of people would say Manchester United. However, these days with billion dollar owner Sheikh Mansour he’s taken over and started pouring millions and millions of pounds into the team. Manchester is split between two teams, which adds to the rivalry. I will talk a bit more about the rivalry aspect that European leagues have in future blogs.

For now it was opening day at the Etihad stadium and they were playing a top club; Newcastle United. At each stadium we go we see different ways of doing things and this was no exception. We arrived early as always and when we got there we went to the west entrance of the stadium where about 300 fans waiting for their favourite players to arrive. As game time approached that number increased. Something that they did which was really fascinating was they had a club presenter sort of person. Kind of like the equivalent to Rachael from Toronto FC where she goes all around the stadium pre and post game to interact with fans. The girl at Manchester City though seemed to have a bit more experience and a bit more passion and got really into her job. I’m assuming it’s a bit easier when people are willing to talk to you and not just for free things and 300 people to pick from. She picked three people from the crowd and they competed for a chance to walk the “blue” carpet where the players would be walking down. First they had to wear a baseball cap and attached to the hat were two tea bags they had to get the tea bags simultaneously on the top of the hat. Very funny to watch and made time tick by a lot faster. The next game she had them do was wear another hat and this time a speedometer was attached to it.  Two people competed and standing in the same position they just had to move their head from side to side and the first person within a minute to go farther won. Quite entertaining and what a great prize it is too, so you can imagine how hard the contestants tried. Then they had music and she went around and started asking people questions and she would be on camera the whole time and 5 minutes after she would do a bit of questions and such they’d post the video all around the ground so that it would bring people to the area and add to the atmosphere.  The mascots also gave away free t-shirts that cost 20 pounds in the shop so decent stuff. The reason I’m getting into such detail about this whole pre-game show that Manchester City put on is the fact that even 10 years ago about 90% of the population I believe they said was young men at games. The clubs around England have tried hard to incorporate different genders and ages into matches. By doing this it cuts down the violence during matches as well as makes it a family outing for the day. This is really nice to see and it’s really exciting to see young kids in full kits with there mom and dad taking them to see their local club.

Just another mention that when we got their the Etihad is a relatively new stadium and on the outside it has pictures of important moments of all the current players also had a little bit of history from players of old. Such as Sergio Aguaro’s last minute winner to win the league a couple season’s ago. We’ve seen this idea of putting players of new and old onto the stadium incorporated only in one other stadium; The Emirates. Which means it’s a modernized idea with new stadiums. However, the Etihad had a bunch of current players on the stadium. The Emirates only had ex-players who would be considered Arsenal legends. It’s neither a good or bad thing just an observation that I made. The only thing I would be worried about in this case would be if these players ended up leaving the club in a negative way. For example, Thierry Henry will always be known as a Arsenal legend and nothing he could do now would ruin that for him. It’s a special reward to be put onto a stadium that will be home to a football club for usually 100 years and counting for some stadiums and clubs. Now you could say that Yaya Toure deserves to be on the Etihad as he has played very well for the club for the last couple years however, if he decides to go play for an arch rival or disrespect the club in someway then you have to take his picture off the stadium and that could happen with several players. In this case I would consider the Arsenal way a bit better in that regard because of how you have to be true to a club and do something incredible to be able to be put onto the stadium walls that they called home for so much of their careers. At the same time though it does allow current players to see what they mean to the club when they walk in and around the stadium and see themselves on the walls among the greats from back in the day. It’s a great way for fans to connect with the current players and ex-players as well.

When we finally got into the stadium we really had no idea what to expect. When a team such as Manchester City or PSG and becomes famous really fast a lot of people start to become fans who are just interested in supporting the winner. For me this ruins some of the atmosphere and we were really worried that this would happen at this stadium but when we got to our seats we were greeted by a couple of English men and they had been fans for awhile it looked like as they knew a whole bunch of old songs from pre billionaire status, as well they added to the passion you felt from the whole stadium.

When we got to our seats we were informed that we weren’t going to be able to use my fancy camera for the first time on this trip. It was so unfortunate because we were at center field in the first row and literally 5 feet from Sergio Aguero and world famous stars. That really was a huge low point in the day for me but the fans would get us back to top form again. The Newcastle supporters were out in force and sang for the full 90 minutes and were really loud so that got a lot of the Manchester City fans going especially the ones right beside the Newcastle supporters. The Newcastle fans would start to cheer for their team really loudly and it was as if the Manchester City fans were laughing at them and the supporters right next to the Newcastle fans would start to sing and the rest of the stadium would follow and end up draining out the Newcastle fans. The final score was 4-0 Manchester City but you have to give respect to the Newcastle fans as they sang for the full 90 minutes for their team till the very end.

Now two words you should never hear in a sentence is Manchester and Liverpool and I am just about to do that. We had to go home from Manchester to Liverpool and when we finally got through the 45 minute wait to get onto the 2 car tram (train) we had missed the final train back to Liverpool. However, we hadn’t missed the last bus and it was already late 11:09 it was to leave the station so leaving us no other option we took the bus. After we left we were the only ones on the bus since nobody is going to be going to Liverpool after a match in Manchester. The bus driver was a really friendly talkative guy and now knows our whole life story now. He told us it was going to take 2 hours to get back to Liverpool because of our whole detour through all the stops in Manchester. We hadn’t been able to get in touch with Eric’s family back in Liverpool yet so we were getting really worried they’d be out waiting for us and couldn’t find us out late and everything. We explained it to the man and he told us that when he got to a certain station and nobody would get on then he would just drive us straight home. We were in luck, absolutely nobody from Manchester wanted to go to Liverpool that night! We ended up making it by 12:15 home and the man let us use his phone to call. I just wanted to tell you about this just incase it’s not very clear in the episode that will go up in a couple weeks.

This was a bit of a shorter blog because of the fact that this was a last minute game that we weren’t planning to go on but because of our luck we got great seats to a quality game. We also only really got to the game about 2 and a half hours before kick off enough time to get our panarama shots from the outside and shoot a bit of footage outside the ground for our episode and watch as the pregame outside the west entrance unfolded. Like our planned episodes we usually tour the city and get to know the city and the fans within it, but in the morning we were across the city at Old Trafford getting a tour their. As we didn’t have that much time in Manchester we had to combine the two. That and because we just like to live on the edge. I must admit though as a Manchester United supporter it did feel awful going from such an amazing ground as Old Trafford to going to our bitter rivials. Eric did have to do a lot of convincing to try and force me to see what we were really experiencing and that I couldn’t be biased in this particular game. It kind of worked and I did enjoy myself but rivalries never leave you and that was quite evident in my mind.

Bram: Wembley – The Home of Football

wembley
When you talk about any league in the world the English Premier League always lands the big number 1 spot every time. Some people like La Liga, some people like the Italian league, but when it comes down to it there’s no more competitive league than the English league. There’s no better history than the home of football. That’s where we were going today, Wembley; the home of football. When I think about the start of the season I think about two games that gets my blood going again, gets my voice yelling, and gets my passion started. Firstly it’s the Community Shield the second is the actually league opener. Today we were off to the Community Shield. The significance of this trophy is it’s the first major trophy of the season and it means that its only one week away from the start of the EPL (English Premier League). For those of you that don’t know it’s a one cup final and you get there by either winning the year previously or winning the FA Cup final. Last years league winners Manchester United were playing surprise winners of the FA Cup Wigan Athletic.

Wembley is a different stadium than we’ll see on this whole tour of stadium. It’s different because in that it’t not home to a club team. Wembley’s significance to English football could be a blog within itself. However, I’ll just tell you that Wembley is run by the English Football Association and is home to England football team and hosts some of the biggest finals of English Football including the FA Cup and League Cup. In the last 3 years Wembley have hosted the European Champions League twice as well. It also hosts many concerts and lastly the Community Shield, previously referred to as the Charity Shield. When I say that it’s been the home of football, I mean that the old Wembley was home to some amazing football and even where England has won there only World Cup win. It was around from 1923 to 2000 then they tore it down and was replaced with the stadium that we see now.

When we got to the stadium it was incredible. We walked out of the train station with hundreds of Manchester United supporters. They definitely out numbered the Wigan Athletic supporters and when we got there it was incredible. People were lining up waiting for the players to arrive. I got to interview a top Manchester United supporter who told me that last season he went to the Real Madrid game and watched Danny Welbeck score that amazing goal. This is what true fans are made of. We’ve been talking a lot about these superficial fans and I think between Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United you have to have the most stereotypical superficial fans. What I mean by that is, that you don’t think about any of these teams actually having true fans, but when we go to Old Trafford home of Manchester United I hope to find some more true fans. We watched the game and I don’t want to make this a Manchester United vs Wigan Athletic blog because it’s really about the stadium. In this regard I just want to talk about the atmosphere and it was really good. We’ve talked to a lot of tour guides and they always say it’s much better to go to a game and live that match day experience and its so true. There were about 80,000 supporters and I don’t even know how these players move their legs while everyone is watching them. I don’t care how much you get paid these players do get nervous and how there able to do the things they do is truly amazing.  Manchester United were expected to win and they did 2-0 with two goals by last year’s top goal scorer of the year, Robin van Persie. Check out the pictures I think sometimes pictures speak louder than words and the comments we’ve been getting on these pictures speaks volumes. It was an incredible atmosphere and just to be in Wembley with a packed stadium is something every fan dreams of and we were able to witness some history and I’m glad we got to see this game.

The next day we were off to Wembley again. We are really lucky. When arriving at the stadium the key statue that is at the main entrance and built within the history of the history of English football and the history of Wembley, is a statue of the great Bobby Moore himself. For those of you that don’t know he was the captain of England when they won the World Cup back in 1966. We noticed that the majority of everything that was up for the final yesterday was gone and replaced with England posters for the next upcoming game in 4 days time. England vs Scotland.

We were going to Wembley to have a tour of the famous stadium. When we got there we knew we were getting a VIP tour, but we’d been to them before and there were still several of people on them. However, when we got there we were treated like true VIP’s we arrived 30 minutes early and we were greeted by our tour guide and he informed us that he’d be taking just the two of us on the tour! It was truly one of the best tours we’ll go on, on this trip. He gave us amazing amounts of information, took us on the tour even to where the queen or prince’s would watch the games. It was truly an amazing tour and for only 15 pounds more we ended up getting gifts that were worth more than 15 pounds.

These are just some of the facts that he told us. I could only write so fast on my little phone.

When people remember the old Wembley stadium they think of the twin towers. It’s the most memorable part of the stadium for me anyways. The architectures that built the new stadium tried there very best to incorporate them into the new stadium but after many years of trying they just couldn’t figure out a way to do it. But they know that history is a vital importance and relevance to this storied stadium. What they ended up doing was tearing the twin towers down and taking the rubble from the old twin towers and putting the rubble under the pitch then covered by sand then soil. This way a part of history and a part of the old Wembley will always be with us.

9,000 pounds per year – Bobby Moore restaurant

Old Wembley cost 500,000 pounds

-1923-2000

129,000 pound profit-1948 Olympics

A private box costs 250,000 pounds per year.

Cheapest can cost 40,000. This was really interesting because we’ve seen less modernized stadiums with a lot more expensive boxes.

Wembley is the Largest undercover stadium in Europe. Technically the Camp Nou is the biggest stadium in Europe but not everyone is covered so they like to call it the Largest undercover stadium.

1st tier can hold 34,000 people

2nd tier can hold 17,000 people

3rd tier can hold 39,000 people

Roof is closed for games/events for fans but after and prior to the events and during tours and such it opens for sunlight to get onto the pitch.

Pitch was changed 12 times in 3 years but now they have a dezo system and haven’t changed it in 3 years so problem solved. This was due to the fact that people and concert sets would be on the grass and ruining it as well as not enough sunlight.

Wembley is home to 2618 toilets more than any other building in the world.

The English FA aim to pay off new stadium by 2025. It cost them 750 million pounds initially to build Wembley and since they’ve had there problems with the pitch so it’s cost them much more but now everything is on track.

Wembley hosts 9 major restaurants and lots more small ones in the stadium itself.

The FA Cup – oldest cup in England and Manchester United won it the most times. 11 times. This cup is now always hosted at Wembley as it was in the old stadium during its demolition they had to host the final at another stadium in England.

In 1966 Wembley hosted the World Cup and our tour guide was there and for 11 games he got to go for 4 pounds and 20 pence. Final game cost 50 pence.

“Wembley is the church of football. It is the capital of football and it is the heart of football” Pele

This stadium is appealing to us because of the history this place holds for England and other stars around the world. It won’t have the gritty feel of a place like Dortmund or it won’t have a packed crowd every weekend where people can call home every weekend. Although you could suggest that this place could be called for anyone English. This place brings you to the modernized version of a stadium that resembles history, memorable finals, and yet a neutral place. It changed in 4 days from the final of the community shield to and England vs Scotland friendly. If anything this place gives every fan around the world something positive to remember. For the English they could remember that they won their only world cup here. For the Bavarians they can remember they won the Champions League here.

For players, coaches, and fans this can be the best or worst place in the world. Our guide told us two stories. I’ll start with the positive one. He told us of the atmosphere during the 1966 final and how he was in the terrace and how he was swaying back and forth and when England won it everyone in the stadium the atmosphere is one that he will never forget. The other story he told us was when England only had to draw against Croatia to qualify for Euro 2008 at Wembley. Steve McClaren was the head coach and the whole nation rested on his shoulders. The game finished 3-2 Croatia and England failed to qualify consequently for Euro 2008. Now if anyone has heard about how harsh the news reporters are here in England they had no idea how bad they were after that game. Usually the news room can hold 90 reporters and it usually takes about 20-30 minutes post game because a couple of reporters get there comments quick and then leave to send of for printing. However, after this game they called ahead and said cancel my column I’m getting every bit of information from this. The post game interview with the coach was 110 minutes longer than the actual game itself and apparently our tour guide said they ripped him apart and for those of you who know English football he was sacked the next day.

What Eric has helped me realize is that Wembley is a mission, a goal, a journey for most fans especially English fans for even the club teams. As you may know, England has 4 divisions of football the English Premier League being the top division. The league cup and the FA Cup gives teams like Scunthorpe a chance, a dream from players to coaches to fans, the possibility of Wembley. Wembley is a day out. Going out with your dad for your first match at your local team’s ground is a special day but after that it’s a special day but then it becomes your second home. Whenever you go to Wembley it means the world to the players, coaches and fans. It means that you’ve done something right, whether you have as a player done enough for your team to go to the finals, or you have played well enough to represent your country if your English or your country is playing England usually. As a fan it means getting to look at one of the most memorable stadiums with new modernized architecture that will be something you will never forget. These dreams do come true as the FA Cup and League cup give these lower club teams the chance to play at some top clubs grounds and if there really lucky maybe the goal to play at Wembley.

We’ve had an wonderful time touring this incredible stadium and to think the luck were having so far is unbelievable really with VIP tours and watching the community shield.

I’m doing the Liverpool part of our journey a bit different so you’ll have to wait for that blog till the end of the trip. But in regards to this part of the journey next stop for us is Liverpool vs Stoke City. But my next blog will probably be on Manchester City vs Newcastle. What a cracking game that was. Stay tuned for more. Also just to add what Eric said on facebook. Unfortunately with all the amazing editing he’s been doing he’s been unable to continuing his blog but I’m sure he’ll keep you posted on his views of his trip after the trip is over. Our blogs really complement each other well so when he posts his blog after the trip read mine again because they really do work together well.

Bram: Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham – The London Trader

This title should never happen as a true football fan. These are some of the most heated rivalries in England and to tour all of them in one day is basically unheard of. However, since were touring the top stadiums in Europe, I’m sure that these fans would respect us thinking that there team and stadium was a top club. And so our tours to some of the biggest rivalries in London begin.

We left West Ham’s Upton Park early in the morning because today was going to be another busy day. The reason I didn’t put them all together because these three stadiums; Stamford Bridge, Emirates Stadium, and White Hart Lane were done in one day. We arrived at the subway and something that I didn’t mention in the West Ham blog was that we had met this bloke from the subway. He looked about 6’4 and built like a brick wall. When we had told him that we were touring around the biggest stadiums around Europe he obviously had to ask us which team we support. We tried to lie and Eric said Toronto FC (not that he’s not a fan of TFC but his main team is not TFC) and I said PSV Eindhoven but he then got it out of us. He ended up being a big Chelsea supporter and didn’t want to let us through but he was a top bloke and pulled us aside and showed us some pictures that he had taken at Stamford Bridge and tried to convert us for the rest of our stay in London. It was nice knowing that there are fans of Chelsea prior to the Roman Abramovich. No chance but good try lad!

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We started by going to Stamford Bridge, home to Chelsea FC. Something Eric had informed me before we got to England was how the stadiums here are incorporated into the community so that people would just walk by it and see it as another building until Football Day! It would be really hard to do this in a big city like Toronto due to the fact that its already packed with buildings and to fit a 25,000 seat stadium would be near impossible. However it is really unfortunate that you can’t have this in Toronto because it definitely adds something to the fan culture here in England. The way Eric told me prior to me coming to England about how the stadiums are built into the community is the exact way I’d describe Stamford Bridge. We walked from the train station and I just happened to look into this little alley and see a Chelsea FC logo and there it was Stamford Bridge home of now one of the biggest teams in Europe, unbelievable. Now the majority of the places we visit on this trip is based on either tours or games at each stadium. It would be amazing to see a game at each place, but we don’t have the time for each one. For today’s blog I will only be talking about tours. I still find tours essential for any fan to go to. The things you learn here in tours are unbelievable and you get to have some amazing pictures of the stadiums. We also got to tour the Chelsea FC museum and to think back and think that players such as Claude Makelele, Arjen Robben, Damien Duff used to play there just makes you think if every Chelsea supporter abroad did some basic research even only 10 years ago and have some basic common knowledge of their club then a lot of people wouldn’t be calling them superficial fans. Anyways moving on to the tour. Our two tour guides were great. We’ve had some amazing tours and we’ve had some less good ones. The tour guides really adds something to it and the passion that these two lads had for Chelsea FC was really good and added to the tour.

By not going to a game you miss some of the true fans during the games and maybe you get more of the superficial fans during the tours. We had fans on our tour from all over the world and only a couple were actually out and out Chelsea supporters. There wasn’t one fan from London on this tour. However, during our journey’s around London we met some Chelsea supporters through and through so we know they exist which is good to hear. Being a great stadium takes a bunch of things but some of the essentials are in my point of view is; a great capacity, a great atmosphere, and a great fan base. With this you can build your fortress and Chelsea FC look to build on Stamford Bridge this year as current head coach Jose Mourinho hasn’t lost a game there yet as Head Coach.

Here are a couple of facts they told us about and that you might not know:

The cheapest box ticket you can get is 250,000 pounds per year and it can go to the most expensive 1 million pounds per year. The other catch to this is that you have to buy for 10 years at least. There’s also a 20 year waiting for this. The other thing this allows people like Adidas to do is have access to the box at all times so they can have meetings inside Stamford Bridge whenever they want. Which would be incredible to have at your disposal.

Before Jose Mourinho joined the club the away supporters were right beside the home dug out. The amount of away fans that yell at just regular home supporters is ridiculous I would not want to know what they would do to the home team, scary.

In 1887 Stamford was built for racing and athletics and such things. In 1905 Chelsea FC was born and since then it has been just for football.

Roman Abramovich has a reputation as many of you will know of firing managers after each season and his intimidating face can be seen by each manager as his box is right across from the manager on the other side of the stadium so that he can see there every move. Now if that’s not intimidating I don’t know what is. Usually dug out is a bit of centre and so the owner would usually have his box in the middle but this is not the case for Mr. Abramovich.

We were able to sit in the press conference area and where players like John Terry, Didier Drogba, and Frank Lampard have sat also famous coaches like Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink. Our tour guides informed us that prior to 2004 players would sign there contracts here in front of the press. The last player to do so was Frank Lampard on a contract extension. Now it gets done in the privacy of Chelsea’s training ground.

Lastly, Michael Essien is the club DJ.

So that was Stamford Bridge we were able to see the Home and Away dressing rooms and the tunnel where the players get to walk onto the pitch (we weren’t able to go onto the pitch though) those were some of the highlights. Take a look at some of the pictures from Stamford Bridge.

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Next we headed to the Emirates; home of Arsenal FC. Now this is an interesting journey. I grew up watching Arsenal play at Highbury (their old stadium) and I remember when they switched over to the Emirates. I was looking forward to seeing this stadium and if a more modernized stadium ruined some of the history that Highbury held. Everyone I’ve talked to about this stadium says that this is the best stadium in England and after taking the tour I’d have to say it was the most modernized for sure that we’ve seen.

It was really cool how they built the stadium because when we walked off the train we couldn’t see the stadium like a lot of other stadiums that we’ve been to so far. We had to ask for directions and the guy directed us and when we got there it was just a small building with a couple of Arsenal logos. For me this was cool because it didn’t ruin the neighbourhood with a massive big stadium. Then you walk over this bridge and you see this massive stadium. It’s incorporated the traditional England stadium field where its been integrated within the culture here of the city and yet it’s a spectacle that fans can be proud of. A place of torment for big teams to come here and see the history of the club. Outside the stadium you can see statues of players like Tony Adams, you can see special quotes about legendary players like Robert Pires and Thierry Henry from Arsene Wenger (current head coach of Arsenal) and fans. Check out the pictures on facebook.

We learned later that Arsene Wenger had a huge role to play in designing the stadium and you can see how he’s built in the history of the club into the new modernized stadium, which is really great to see. This helped me realize that the best way to incorporate history from an old stadium like Highbury to a new modernized stadium like the Emirates is to help the fans remember history when the walk into the ground. You have to be proud to be a fan of your club and even through the hard times you can remember the good times. For someone like me who doesn’t like change it was nice for me to see change in a positive way. I don’t know if they had the plaques at Highbury but another thing they did like a lot of other clubs are doing now is you can buy a plaque with your company name on it or your name on it or whatever a message of sorts and then you can have it put around the stadium. Check out the pictures on facebook to see where the Emirates have put there’s.

When we got to the tour it was really the only disappointing thing that happened on this whole journey of the stadium. They set us up with these annoying little gadgets that spoke to you everywhere you go around the stadium. You didn’t really get to ask those important questions to a tour guide and they kept breaking down and slowing you down. Eric just stopped using his I tried to use mine to get these details to you. I hope you enjoy them.

It took 123 weeks and 2 days to complete the stadium. At it’s peak 1400 construction workers were on site.

Highbury was Arsenal’s stadium from 1913-2006. So the Emirates has been open since 2006.

Arsenal used to be called “the Arsenal” but Hubert Chapman (a man they claim changed there club hugely and is one of the big reasons why Arsenal is the club it is today.) changed the name so that Arsenal would always be first in alphabetical order.

Something that Arsene Wenger has put into place that’s different from any other teams in the English Premier League is that the whole team has to wear either long or short sleeve jerseys. It’s the captains choice also which one they will wear.

This is a big one for me. The kit manager now is the most successful coach ever for Arsenal. He was the ladies coach from the 1980’s till 2000’s. It didn’t say how many trophies he’d won but that’s impressive. Arsene Wenger has been at Arsenal for over 10 years and after Sir Alex Ferguson (coach of Manchester United) retired last year is the oldest serving coach in the current English Premier League.

I don’t know how true this next one is but they claim that it’s reported that the Queen is an Arsenal fan.

Now here’s where the science comes into play in Arsenal. Apparently they have cushions in the dressing room. Now what they claim and it must be true but they told me that when players come in at half time they are all warmed up but what happens when you sit on a wooden bench or something else like it slows down your blood pressure and cools you down so when you go back to the pitch you have a higher chance of tearing something in your first sprint on the pitch. That was a really cool fact for me I’m definitely going to be looking into this.

Another interesting fact for me being a student in Massage Therapy and wanting to go into sports after I’ve been Registered is the Physio’s arrive 1:15 minutes before the match. This allows them time to get all sorted and bring all there equitment with them. Apparently the head physio says the Massage Therapist’s get there as well and are usually sweating just before the match because of how aggressive the players treatment is prior to the match.

Something else that’s scientific that they had a group of psychologists come in and tell them that they shouldn’t’ have corners in there room as this creates a negative atmosphere. That’s why when you see pictures of Arsenal’s dressing room it’s shaped in a horseshoe shape. This allows everyone to see each other and have that positive atmosphere.

Since Arsene has been renowned to work with more younger individuals he’s put a lot of focus into the mental part of the game. Some managers don’t get into that and some do. He does and it makes a lot of sense. He also incorporated these whirlpools in the dressing room but there more cold baths right after the game a lot of players do it for rehabilitative reason’s he said such as preventing big bruising but some do it because it feels good. He said he did this for the major reason being that it allows players to bond after the match rather than just showering and going home.

I also heard from the lead chef at Arsenal and he said that his first day cooking for the team he was really nervous and hoped that they liked his food. Arsenal lost that day and they didn’t touch anything that he made when they got back to the training centre he was really angry but was told that they don’t eat when they lose the next time they won and they ate so much that he actually ran out so its something that takes getting used to I guess. Luckily he says he gets to keep his job because they win more than they lose.

Lastly, Arsene himself (through our little gadget!) told me that he doesn’t do pregame talks right before the game in the dressing room. He does that at the hotel or at the training ground. He believes that you must leave the players alone at some point to get into their routine. The players know what they have to do and for them to get some head space right before the game is something that they need.

During the tour a guy who was testing one of the guards about her allegiances toward Arsenal asked “What would you do if I put on a Tottenham jersey?” Either the guard cared about her job or wasn’t a football fan and said “Nothing but don’t know what my friends would do.” So we figured we could probably ask her where White Hart Lane was and she told us like it was nothing. To get from Stamford Bridge to the Emirates we had actually gone two stops further from the Stamford Bridge stop to ask someone else how to get to the Emirates because we feared they would get mad at us for doing a tour at Stamford Bridge and then going to there rivals ground. She explained that it wasn’t far. We hadn’t planned on going to White Hart Lane but it was only about a 20 minute train ride away and we had a bit more energy so thought we couldn’t not go.

We got to the stadium. Now Stamford Bridge and the Emirates weren’t in a posh area of sorts, but West Ham and Tottenham definitely had this rougher neighbourhood. We didn’t think of anything though until the guy inside the store said put away your camera when you walk around here. That definitely put us on edge it had been a long day and we might have not been thinking 100% but we were really glad to have that piece of thoughtful advice. We had to take a bus to the stadium this time though the stadium was kind of the centre of the community and it kind of gave this rough neighbourhood something to cheer about. We also saw the design of the new stadium outside the stadium. On the tour they informed us that they were going to tear down White Hart Lane and build up the area for a social place for struggling individuals as part of a way to give back to the community, which was really good to hear.

In the store after buying our traditional scarfs we met a guy with a funny but familier accent. He was from Ottawa and he was part of the Tottenham fan club back home in Canada. He came here to get a job and found one at the club store. Now that’s a dream. Crazy! He informed us that we would have to come back for a tour and we did we were there the next morning and had a great tour.

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We arrived a bit late but had just enough time before the tour guides had really started the tour. The main tour guy knew a lot about the ground and was really informed about the history of the club. Sadly a lot of people have just started to become fans of this club in the last couple years because of the recent success but before their recent success they had success a couple of decades ago that you might not have known about so again here are something’s that we learned:

Apparently Tottenham Hotspurs were the first team ever to do the double – the FA Cup and the equivalent of the Premier League today.

In 1899 White Hart Lane was built.

In 1963 – they were the first English team to win a European metal.

The cheapest box is 50,000 pound and the most expensive box is 100,000 pounds so a little cheaper than Stamford Bridge and Emirates stadium. I assume that will change with the new stadium.

Bill Nicholson who was a very good player and managed Tottenham Hotspurs and is quite a legend around White Hart Lane had his ashes spread underneath the field and is the only person to do so. Out of respect of him and how they want to bring many memories back to the new stadium they are going to carefully gather his ashes and bring it to the new stadium and put it under the grass there as well. Also apparently there’s a legendary picture of him closing some gates and they’re going to create a statue to replicate that and there going to use the current gates which is the ones he would have used to create the statue.

All in all for a top team in Europe it’s not really enough and you can tell at how simple it is and this might be me talking right after seeing the most modernized stadium in England, the Emirates stadium. But the dressing is normal and the players leave there expensive things just on the bench and have no where to put anything. I found that really odd. But obviously the owner agrees and that’s why instead of updating the dressing room he’s building a whole new stadium that looks absolutely amazing and will end up comparing to the Emirates stadium. If you’re a football fan you will know that Tottenham and Arsenal do not like each other at all.

They told us a story that before a FA cup semi-final I can’t exactly recall the year but Arsenal gave Tottenham a gift (this happens frequently between teams but maybe not these two) Now Tottenham hadn’t prepared anything they had never before so why now. Tottenham won the match and they sent Arsenal the next day a huge picture of the goal with the goal scorers signature on it. Just a small fact that I found entertaining that I thought you might enjoy.

But that being said White Hart Lane in this day and age isn’t up to modernized standards in my opinion but the history that this place holds and the atmosphere that I’ve seen here and how it brings this town together to forget the hardship and all problems that this area must be in. That sometimes is better than anything modernized can give you and we just have to sit back and enjoy it while we can.

London is full of different teams we had a great 5 days here and saw 5 amazing stadiums (Wembley is the other one and will be in another blog) 5 days 5 stadiums I’d say a job well done. Our legs are dying and were going back to Liverpool to rest up but we won’t have time as Eric has informed me we have tickets for the home opener and English Premier League opener Liverpool vs Stoke City at Anfield.

Just a last thought that I had to share about all of these tours that we’ve been doing. I’m not going to tell Toronto FC and the MLSE how to run there business because when it comes down to it everyone in Toronto would like to tell them how to do it. But something that they might not have thought about is tours for BMO field. It’s seems simple enough to organize and I’m sure it’s not in this day and age but here are some reason’s why it could help the organization and not just for the profit.

In 2007 BMO Field and Toronto FC began. It was a dream season for the MLSE off the pitch. The fans had been amazing everything was perfect really except for the results but that would come they told us. Now 7 seasons later they’ve been lowering ticket prices so that people will keep there season tickets and the numbers have started to dwindle. Toronto FC has to give supporters a reason to call BMO Field home.

Just like the Ajax Amsterdam supporters call the Amsterdam Arena home and like the rest of Europe every supporter calls their home stadium their home. Having a tour and knowing the history although it is a short history gives fans a reason to call themselves fans and not just putting on the jersey to look like a fan.

I’ve been lucky enough as a player to see behind the scenes and go into Toronto FC’s locker room. As a supporter of Toronto FC I enjoy watching post-game interviews and interacting with players after the game to get their thoughts and a quick picture.

Toronto FC has been working hard to get their name into the community, as they have to fight with Hockey, Baseball, Lacrosse and more to get their name across. It also doesn’t help that 2/3 of what I’ve just mentioned is owned by the same people as Toronto FC.

For the youth of Toronto and some of the supporters to be able to go into the dressing rooms, walk out of the tunnel, sit where Ryan Nelson, Torsten Frings, Dwayne DeRosario have all sat before them would give the supporters of Toronto FC something to be proud of. I’ve seen what they’ve tried to do organizing public autograph sessions and doing events for the youth of today. That is all great and I’m glad there doing it. This might be another idea to add to it. I could go on for hours about this but I think I’ve made my point. Let’s see if they’ll listen!

Bram: West Ham – Forever Blowing Bubbles

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After arriving in London we headed straight for Upton Park home to West Ham United. They had a preseason game against Pacos De Ferreira. They are from Portugal and even after all of the time Eric spends on FIFA, on his PS3, he couldn’t pick out any of the names of anyone one there team. However, we both recognized the names of their coaches respectfully. Costinho and Maniche who were both on the Portugal national team together who brought Portugal to the Euro Cup finals in 2004 and the same year won the Champions League with Porto with then manager Jose Mourinho now called the “Special One”. They were taught by the best and now are trying to produce some good talent in Portugal. Getting back to the game now though it had been 12 long days since Ajax played Roda in the Amsterdam Arena so we were really anxious to see some football at long last. When you get out of Upton Park station you can make out the stadium. On our way to the stadium there were many little small shops to buy your scarfs or jersey or inside the stadium there was West Ham’s Megastore where is where we bought our scarf. We did get a Forever Blowing Bubbles shirt from one of these small shops more on the history of blowing bubbles a bit later.

One of my favourite football movies and I’ve suggested many times before in previous blogs is Green Street Holigans and to give a brief summery, Elijah Wood (actor who plays Frodo in the Lord of the Rings) plays a “Yank Journalist” who gets kicked out of Journalism school and decides to come to England to see his sister. He meets his sister’s husbands brother who is the leader of the Green Street Elite (AKA GSE) West Ham United’s firm. He gets into many fights and things as such but he starts to realize what being part of a firm is like and what being a football fan means to some of these lads. It’s a bit brutal of a film so many readers might not enjoy watching but I thought I’d give a brief summery because we were in the home of West Ham. This is why I am so in love with this stadium and part of the city.

We entered through the gates with security guards around 7 times as big as the security guards in the Netherlands and Germany, but never actually checked our bags which I found odd. Getting in the stadium brought a rush of fresh air, the football pitch and the air just incredible. Eric told me that we’d be sitting about 20 rows up from the field which I thought was awesome so I couldn’t wait to get to our seats. We got to the steward and not for the first time on this trip Eric was wrong for all the right reasons. He told us that we were 4 rows up from the pitch and basically in the centre of the field. We couldn’t believe our eyes, as you saw in the pictures we were literally like 20 feet from players like Kevin Nolan and Joe Cole. Best seats of the house in my opinion.

In the movie they actually tried to emulate an actual match day experience so that you would experience in the East Ham area of London. (West Ham United is actually located in East Ham) So it came to no surprise to us when they started to sing our favourite song from the movie. Forever Blowing Bubbles. For those of you that don’t know the song here are the lyrics, its really catchy and if you wanted it sung wait till the mini episode we will be posting or check it out on youtube.

I’m forever blowing bubbles,

pretty bubbles in the air,

they fly so high, nearly reach the sky

then like my dreams they fade and die.

Fortunes always hiding,

I’ve looked everywhere,

I’m forever blowing bubbles,

pretty bubbles in the air!

United “clap clap clap”

United “clap clap clap”

United “clap clap clap”

During this song in the stadium they actually had a bubble machine and bubbles were going everywhere it was truly amazing for a huge fan like me.

Were here to look at some of the differences between the fans here and as far as I see it every fan at every stadium is different but maybe some similarities in the different countries. In Germany, especially Dortmund it was getting behind your team for the full 90 minutes, in the Netherlands it was more about watching the game and enjoying the game. In England so far it’s been a bit different, they sing even though it was just a preseason game, but you can tell that every single person in the stadium is focused on the game. We’ve been very lucky here and all of the games we’ve seen the home team has always won. What this hasn’t allowed us to feel is the feeling as a wise person was telling me of the feeling of a home loss. As a Toronto FC fan we get this a lot but its different here in England and the rest of Europe. In Canada a lot of fans will go home saying oh just another loss for Toronto FC. Here people take it to heart I believe and it can affect there whole week until the next football day! I’d like to be able to experience this before the end of our trip.

After the game finished 2-1 West Ham we made our way around the stadium getting some last shots of the stadium and the ground. Here’s where our trip gets mental yet again. We were going to be staying at West Ham United HOTEL! We were going to be staying in a box suite, which they turn into a Hotel. Hold on though it gets better. 2 hours after the game we went to go get checked in, they had to clean the rooms and everything and there was club captain Kevin Nolan just going to his car so we got his autograph. Eric on his match day ticket and mine on my match day programme. It’s amazing that he can have such a great relationship with all the fans I think that’s something that the big teams miss that true connection with fans. After getting the autograph we head to our rooms…

The feeling of opening this door I can’t describe to you. We literally went mental and during our full stay here I still am not able to look at the screen for more than 2 minutes without looking out the window seriously. When we walked in we went crazy it was actually unbelievable to be able to stay inside West Ham is something I can’t even dream up.

We spent the rest of the night in and just talking about our plans for the next day and about our day we just had. Why I mention this is because every 30 seconds we would try and talk to each other but our eyes just started to gaze to the window and looking on the pitch. This never stopped for the whole 5 days we were there.

During our stay we had a tradition English buffet breakfast every morning some of the greasiest food I’ve ever had for 5 days straight but really tasty! The only other thing I’ll mention about our stay here at Upton Park is that coming back from a long day journey I saw Sam Allardyce coach of West Ham United and got a picture taken with him and he asked me where I was from and had a great little talk before he went in to have a meeting which Eric and I are convinced was about signing Stewart Downing ex-Liverpool player. While we were there some amazing things happened and during breakfast you just saw players in the next room eating breakfast. I really couldn’t believe the whole thing to be honest.

Bram: Heroic, Determined and Merciful

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After my cousin Nicky picked us up in Venray, we headed a bit more south in the Netherlands to where Nicky lives in Heythuysen. He let us know the plans for the next day and that he had tried to get us an interview with two of the top firms here in Amsterdam. (For those of you that don’t know a firm is it’s kind of like a supporters group of people who stand up for there team not quite like a gang but with the violence yes, they have been known to cause a lot of violence pre, during, and post games). He also told us that because where we were going (Amsterdam and the high crime rate that this place is known for. Also going into the fan club where the supporter group already told us they didn’t want to see us) he didn’t think that it was a good idea for me to bring my big camera. This kind of changed the episode and I think you’ll see that. We didn’t want every episode to be the same, so this will just be a bit more unique. I think it adds to the episode. What Nicky said widened our eyes about what we were getting ourselves into. We always felt safe, but it was just the history of the violence that kept us on our toes.

That night we watched Green Street Holigans one of the main reasons I’m interested in the fans and firms over here. Not for the violence mainly, but just to see some of the passion for football and some for violence just interesting to see. In the morning we knew it was football day from the moment we woke up as my cousin who is a big fan of that movie walked in and shouted Its Football Day! (this is a part of the movie)

After breakfast the next day we headed down to Nicky’s local bar. He introduced us to his friends who were going to be going down with us and also people who couldn’t make the game. They were already ready for the day and began to sing some of the Ajax songs! Now Nicky knows I’m a big PSV fan, but he knew that nobody in Amsterdam could no this for some of the rivalries that these teams have had in the past. It didn’t last long though for his close friends to find out my true allegiances. They explained to me though that the only reason PSV is a kind of big rivialry for Ajax is because there usually fighting them for the title, not because there firm is any good. According to them there’s four big firms in the Netherlands; Ajax, Feynoord, Utrecht, and Den Haag. Ajax and Feynoord have always had really good football and firms. Utrecht depending on the season can have a decent team but usually not fighting for the title and Den Haag don’t have a chance at winning the league lately, but they have a top notch firm.

For Nicky though it wasn’t about trying to convince me to become an Ajax supporter it was showing me and Its Football Day what a typical match day would look like for him and his mates. He also wanted to confirm Eric to be an Ajax supporter at least in the Netherlands at least. Sadly I think it worked.

We missed the first bus on our way to Amsterdam due to the local festival in his hometown. The festival messed up the normal bus route so back to the bar we went for another hour finally we caught the bus and then took a train that took about 1 1/2 hours. It was a good journey as we were able to interview my cousins close friends and ask all of them some interesting questions about there adventures of touring as a supporter of Ajax. Watch the episode to hear what they had to say.

After taking the train to Amsterdam we headed to the pub for the traditional pre game drinks. The boys told me the similar experience I had during my visit to the Phillips stadium. The minute we left the train station they told me they were finally home!

After the pub we headed to the Amsterdam Arena. We took a cab and if we thought cabs in Toronto were crazy than this guy just reached a new limit of crazy. We probably yelled at every driver we past and were on the rear end of every driver on the road. He was crazy, but it was fun maybe a little more so after we got there safely. Nicky told us they usually take the metro to the stadium with thousands of Ajax supporters singing the songs and everything, but it was closed for some reason. He was disappointed that we missed this experience, but the stadium would reunite us with the singing that we were looking forward too.

Arriving at the stadium we headed to the fan shop for our traditional scarfs, but Eric got a jersey instead. This is when I finally lost my friend to Ajax Amsterdam. When we first saw the stadium it was quite odd to be honest for me and I’m really not trying to biased here. The stadium looked layered to me. On the innermost layer looked like a great stadium. The Amsterdam arena is the biggest stadium in the Netherlands and is a fairly new stadium relative to some of the other stadiums in the Netherlands. The outermost layer though is what I was quite confused with. It was a colorful structure, take a look at our pictures of the stadium to understand what I’m taking about. Inside the colorful structure was home to all kinds of stores none Ajax Amsterdam related. When I said in the Eindhoven blog that the Phillips stadium had a place for coffee and a cafeteria they did. However, it fit in well with the stadium it didn’t change the appearance of the stadium. The other thing we both noticed was that in Dortmund and Eindhoven the stadium was built around the city. This incorporated all the fans together so that they would be united for football day. In Munich the Allianz is in the middle of nowhere and that worked for that stadium well. What we found for the Amsterdam Arena was that it was built kind of like the Allianz as it was built and nothing was around it and then the big buildings were built up around it. Nicky also said he liked the way it used to be better. Before this trip I never stopped to think that the surrounding area would have such a big impact on a stadium but it truly does.

After waiting in line which felt like forever, we headed to the Ajax supporters home. This was a very cool place, you could feel the passion and fear rival teams would feel going past. This is home to the 410 firm and the F side firm. While the 410 is quite loud during games the F side is more known for the violence in previous years. Nicky advised us not to film or take pictures within the place. Like I said above, Nicky had asked via Facebook of the firms if anyone would be interested in giving us an interview. They said no we are not but enjoy the game. Short and simple we were outsiders and a lot of them don’t want to be on camera. We saw a movie after the match of an interview with 4  people from the F firm and they were all hooded up so you couldn’t see any of them. Quite sketchy but from a good distance very cool. Nicky told us that all of the profits from the beer that everyone was drinking goes into affording the place as well as away games that they organize which is nice because its volunteer only there… We have found out this happens a lot here and it’s great to see!

After touring the fan base for Ajax we headed to the game. Because we were located in tier 2 they had escalators to bring us up its kind of like a tube going around the escalators which allows for people to sing in them going into the match and others to follow and it carrying to the stadium allowing for that sound volume to go ballistic.

We had cut it a bit close for kick of because the fan shop took longer then we expected and we wanted to go to the fan base but just as we walked into the entrance to the field kick off began. We weren’t in the supporters section but Nicky having been in himself and knowing all of the songs gave us a good feeling of where we were. We were right beside the small section of away supporters and Nicky informed us on the opposite side next to us was a new firm that was just starting. The game was fantastic again, however unless we were in the 5,000 410 firm spot there wasn’t as much jumping up and down for 90 minutes like in Dortmund. A lot of fans around just loved to watch the flowing play of Ajax occasionally we’d here the odd Ajax Amsterdam especially from Nicky!

After the game was done Nicky’s friends who were in a different section than us told us that they had been checked if they were on the blacklist which just kinda gave us a bit of an aftershock I guess. Also we made predictions before the game about the score one of nickys friends was actually right so his other friend gave him 10 euros, proper.

We got back on the train and someone mentioned, very softly, as a joke that I was a PSV fan. I laughed and joked around, but that didn’t last long as 8 big huge Ajax supporters turn there heads at the mention of PSV and we kind of all went silent. No trouble but you just got that feeling that something could have happened and if it had been 5-10 years ago it might just have. The minute we got into Eindhoven I was able to breath a bit better and able to take off my Ajax scarf!

Something I haven’t actually mentioned is the day before match day. I had some dodgy Macaroni from the microwave. I reckon that it gave me a bit of food poisoning. It just goes to show you though how a great day I actually had being sick and still able to go from the bar to the train to the games and still thoroughly enjoying myself along the way. When we got back the boys went to the after party I myself though had a date with the bathroom.

Eric: Vak A? Yes, this is Vak E. No, Vak A. Oh, Vak A! Ya, that way.

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After driving from Bad Kreuznach, Germany to Venray, the place we were staying for the bulk of our time in the Netherlands, it would be a further 60-90 minutes by train to get to Eindhoven on match day.

For our third match of the trip, an incredible fact considering we’d only arrived in Europe seven days earlier, PSV Eindhoven were hosting SV Zulte Waregem of Belgium. It was the first leg of the UEFA Champions League qualifying round.

Eindhoven was unlike any place we had visited to date. In fact, the uniqueness of each city was rather interesting. Munich was slightly old-fashioned, Dortmund was rather industrialized and Eindhoven was a more contemporary, urban setting. It was suggested to us later on that this is a direct result of bombings during the Second World War, as Eindhoven had been hit hard.

Getting off the train, you must first pass are parking lot, of sorts, which houses hundreds of bicycles. As you head toward the Centrum, while the buildings get taller, they never disturb the rustic atmosphere like a more Western metropolis might.

There are pop-up shops under tents along the side of the street, as well as food carts and trucks selling snacks here and there. As you walk through further, past the ticking crosswalks and careful not to tread too far into a bicycle lane, you reach a point where things become slightly less commercialized.

On the right, you pass a single-story building. It is far from fancy, mostly brick and cement. The exterior is covered in club graffiti and regionalist posters and phrases. Out front, a PSV flag flaps in the wind. This is the PSV Eindhoven supporter’s home.

Across the intersection, diagonally from the supporter’s home, is the Philips Stadion, home to PSV Eindhoven. Unlike the two stadiums we visited in Germany, this venue is built as part of the urban landscape. Cars and busses occupy roads on all sides, and people can walk past without the sole intention being to view the stadium. This is arguably a more traditional design for club football stadiums. It isn’t necessarily a destination, as much as it is part of the beating heart of Eindhoven.

From the outside, the stadium has an interesting design. Out front, there is a large, symbolic gate featuring the club’s crest. From this vantage point, you can get a slight view of the seats inside. Each corner of the ground is rounded at the top, an affect created by these vast, metal structures. However, along the sides, the stadium blends in like any of the other buildings we had passed to get there.

As we were doing some video work in a side street overlooked by the stadium, a busload of the opposition’s fans crossed the street between the Philips Stadion and us. Of course, I was in my Netherlands sweater and Bram was sporting his PSV shirt, so it was evident we weren’t going to be in the same end of the ground that evening.

A couple guys spotted our gear, and began to boo. That caused a bit of a stir, as the rest of the group came past the corner and joined in. Thankfully, though it was a bit of an edgy moment, PSV and Zulte Waregem aren’t huge rivals. So, with a couple fingers pointed at us, and other arms in the air, they continued towards the city center, singing songs as they went down the street.

We could hear their echo as we eventually found our way in the same direction, as we still had a while until kickoff. Getting further from the train station, and closer to the true city center, the commercial offices and metal towers disappear. Instead, there are brick-lined streets and a bit more of a village created out of shops and bars.

Here, as dinner hour approached and more football fans came out, was when it really started to feel like match day. We passed a gathering of men in black outfits, PSV Ultra’s, saw a bunch more children and adults sporting PSV shirts and scarves, and also found the Zulte Waregem supporters once again, shouting and chanting in the outdoor seating area of a restaurant.

I’d be lying if I said we went straight to the stadium from here. After stopping to eat, we took an inadvertent tour of Eindhoven, ending up on the other side of a pond had stopped to take a picture of 30 minutes earlier. However, we did eventually manage to make our way in the right direction, and got to the Philips Stadion moments before they opened the gates.

Inside, we asked a steward to take a couple pictures of us, this guy was awesome! He took the camera and guided us around the section he managed, in order to get 3 or 4 of the best angles. He even guided other people towards their seat as he was taking our picture. When we got all the photos we could, we then went to find our seats.

We were in the lower tier, near the goal line on the side behind the bench. 20 rows from the pitch, it provided a great sightline, and also situated us as close to the PSV supporter’s section as you can get without actually being in it.

At 35,000 seats, it is one of the smaller venues we will see a match in on this trip. That is certainly not a negative though, as that added a certain something to the evening. The Bayern Munich match was a spectacle. In Dortmund, it was basically a night of fanaticism. Here though, not being in the supporter’s section, it was the first time we could sit back and enjoy the football.

In a way, this was the true match day experience for the majority of supporters. Only small portions of fans spend the 90 minutes at the foot of the pitch jumping and singing. Not every team plays in a venue that breaks capacity records or is less than a decade old. This ground had a certain quality born out of tradition and grassroots support.

While PSV have had their fair share of success, the current generation is working to steer the club back to the top, to compete with Ajax for the Eredivisie title, and to once again be a force on the continent. These fans were in the seats not because they wanted to see an expensive new signing or to jump on the bandwagon of a powerhouse club. They were there because this is their team.

All in all, for a trip that’s entirely about travelling foreign environments, our first Dutch stadium brought everything back to the football. Our post-match discussions had more to do with the match than the others, where we analyzed the venue and city instead. Again, this is not a negative or positive per se, unless one or the other is the specific reason the sport interests you.

For us, this trip is about exploring all aspects of the game. Though this may not have been the spectacle other football fanatics are interested in, it was a great evening of football. Next up, Amsterdam and the Eredivisie season opener!

Bram: Eendracht Maakt Macht

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After traveling 3 hours from Bad Krutznach to Venray we arrived at my great aunts place. It will be her house that we mainly stay at for the majority of our time in the Netherlands. After we arrived in Venray we made a call to some neighbours of hers who came to drop off our PSV Eindhoven tickets. They were amazing seats check out our pictures and episode to see more! Basically we were in the first tier right on the goal line diagonally across from us was the main PSV supporters. The train trip took about 90 minutes from Venray to Eindhoven and like always we took lots of video, pictures, and discussed about the day we were about to have.

We toured around Eindhoven the city we had been told where to go by my cousin who used to live there and I’ve been there a couple times before so I kind of knew at least where the stadium was! We got to try some traditional dutch food such as warm stroopwafels and had turks pizza for dinner. We tried to get as many city shots as possible but we both wanted to get to the stadium as fast as possible. For me as a fan I just wanted to be back seeing my stadium at last! Just before we got to the stadium there was a picture of a cat (you can look at the picture in our photo album Eindhoven) it said “Bram is back home! Thank you neighbours for searching.” I thought how perfect both Bram’s are home at last! As I’ve been there before and it was the club I grew up supporting I wasn’t as surprised by how modern the field looked, unlike Eric who told me that pictures that he had seen of the stadium before arriving in Eindhoven were really deceiving him and that he was really surprised at how good the stadium really looked.

After looking around the stadium we decided to go into the only fan shop that we could see in all of Eindhoven. This was a bit different than the other cities we’ve been too. Being a PSV fan and also having a last name like van Bommel (Mark van Bommel was last years captain of PSV and also a legend around Eindhoven for bringing them into the Semi-Finals of the champions league and helping them win lots of Eredivisie titles). I had to get the van Bommel jersey of PSV Eindhoven. This is also a special year for PSV Eindhoven for it’s the 100th year anniversary of the club so Nike created a special jersey to celebrate and it’s a bit different than the traditional Red and White strips but I still think it looks amazing. While we were in the store we were waiting in line to get the jersey and a guy was in front of us in a adidas track suit and he looked like a footballer. I told Eric as a joke that he was from PSV Eindhoven. He had bought a kids jersey for someone in his family that said Bakkali at the back of the jersey. I thought nope never heard that name before while looking at the website for players. However, later that night we both spotted a player that looked very similar to the guy in the shop and when he started his name on the back of his own jersey was Bakkali we had just missed a huge opportunity to get a picture with a future star of PSV Eindhoven. Looking back on it I researched on the website for his name and couldn’t find it out but after my great aunt translated the article in the paper he was 17 starting his first match for the PSV team in the champions league none the less and they had brought him up from the academy. Must be nice to go into the PSV fan store not get recognized by several hundred fans. I thought it was odd that he had to do such things but I guess if your only on the academy team you can’t get your club to do these kinds of things for you. He had a great game and I’m glad that I was so close to him maybe when we took video of the store he was in it that would have been fantastic!

After touring around the stadium a bit we did an interview with each other in a small typical dutch street. After doing the interview we were just finishing up packing up when 50-60 big SV Zulte fans walked passed us. I was wearing a PSV jersey and scarf and Eric was wearing a Netherlands sweater. Now I haven’t felt intimated by any rival fans except a bit in Dortmund, but the way they looked at us with utter disgust and started to whistle and boo at us was quite intimidating plus we were all alone and nowhere to really get out. They went past us quickly thankfully and they walked right into centrum (the middle part of the city) and shouting and cheering right in the middle of the city I thought that takes guts because of how intense some of the dutch fans can get but after talking to my dutch cousin apparently the Belgium people and teams have fairly good firms and there not scared of much. After basically keeping our distance and following them into the city there was now about 500 of their fans and about over 300 police officers some on horseback so they weren’t being taken lightly. We went back to the city and got a bit lost but managed to find the place where the hardcore PSV Eindhoven fans meet and we wanted to go in and interview all of them but the thing was it just wasn’t our place to be and we were worried about even just going to sit around them. They were happy to see I was wearing a jersey though. Next time I shall go with a real PSV Eindhoven fan!

We went off to the stadium again as it was game time! When we got there the atmosphere was great for such a smaller stadium that we have got accustomed to seeing here in Europe. The Phillips stadium home to PSV Eindhoven has a capacity of 35,000 making it the third biggest stadium here in the Netherlands but the atmosphere was still great I think it was added here because we were under pressure to win this game because of the fact that it is the champions league. My cousin also informed me that if PSV make it to the champions league they get millions of euros and its been awhile since this team has had true champions league action and it would be fantastic for the fans. If PSV do not make it through to the next stage they get to go to the Uefa Cup which is still an important cup in Europe but its not usually for the top teams. It also gets frowned upon as fans. Also if PSV fail to get through to the champions league then Ajax there archrivals for glory in the Netherlands get more money to improve their club.

Our last game was with Dortmund fans and to compare this would be utterly unfair but even asking some dutch people around here they say that with the fans here although they can get very loud at some stadiums with the right fans and cause hooliganism all over the place and have such passion a lot of the match is focused on actually watching football which was very nice. During our time with some of the fanatics in Germany we missed seeing some of the games due to the fact that any call against us was wrong even if it was right and anything that happened bad wasn’t our fault and so on and so forth. But sitting back and watch the dutch play the beautiful game.

PSV had control of the majority of the play and with coach Phillip Cocu (former international player and PSV legend) in charge it seemed that one of there 12 chances in the first half would go in but it wasn’t to be it took a wonderful strike from Memphis Depay in the 61st minute from about 35 yards out to break the deadlock and the crowd went crazy. The dutch people are some of the harshest people towards one another if they don’t like the way the team is playing there not afraid to let the players know but on this night PSV played beautiful using the wing play which was fantastic to see. The final score was 2-0 for PSV which was a great result leading them to next week when they must travel to Belgium for the next fixture. As the coach said it was a good result but we should have had 1 or 2 more goals at least to make it a bit more comfortable.

Going back to my childhood club and seeing them win comfortably is great. It also helped clear some thing up for me as to why I support this club as people sometimes say why this club now I can answer that when I grew up I asked my aunt where the closest team was to her (where we would stay most frequently when we visited the Netherlands) she told me PSV Eindhoven. Technically the closest team to her is VVV Venlo but at the time they were in the 2nd division and she didn’t think I’d want to support a team in the 2nd division as I wouldn’t be able to discuss football with others here and back at home about a 2nd division team so this is the reason I support PSV Eindhoven to this day. I think everyone should support there home town team, and as I my father is dutch and grew up in the next city to Venray where we are now and that my mother’s father and mother are dutch I believe that I have every right to call PSV Eindhoven my team even though I don’t live here because they originated long before Toronto FC was even a thought so although I am a Toronto FC fan at heart I’ll always call PSV Eindhoven and Phillips Stadium my home away from home. Every fan has there story, this is mine, enjoy!