Edit Blog Post
Published: August 19th 2008
Kick off approaches at the Cambuur stadion.
I can pinpoint exactly where my affection with SC Cambuur Leeuwarden began; when I steered them to Champions League glory on Championship Manager. What? It's a fine way to pick a club. A little geeky perhaps but at least I was following it through by taking a three hour train to Friesland in the north of Holland to see them take on VVV Venlo. Some Man Utd 'fans' never go to a game in their lifetime.
Si never complained about going along with my hair-brained scheme, and indeed seemed rather pleased with the idea as it meant a private hotel room rather than a hostel dorm (no such budget accommodation here).
After an extended look around the home of Feyenoord in Rotterdam earlier in the day, we had to be sharp at getting to our hotel from the station, checking in and taking a 10 euro taxi to the ground, about 1.5 miles away. "Taxi's are expensive in Holland" said our driver as he let us out of the cab. At least he had the good grace to admit it.
Cambuur play in the Dutch second tier and the aforementioned cabbie warned us that if we wanted to
Inside the ground
The view from our seat in the east stand.
see good football, here was not the place to do it. Fortunately Si managed to hold me back and the journey had continued without further bloodshed.
I had expected about two to three thousand to show up, but the atmosphere around the Cambuur Stadion was buzzing around 45 minutes before the 8pm kick off. I had been informed that the M.I.-Side Ultras were a little bit tasty, and there were a few naughty looking characters strolling (or riding their bikes) towards the ground. We paid the bargain 8 euros to sit in a side stand and after I had bought a scarf to look the part (even though I never wear colours to football at home, I was eager to impress my new brethren) we entered the ground.
A noisy crowd of about 7,000 watched on as the home side dominated, displaying fluid passing football followed by finishing that I, as a Sunday League centre half, would have been ashamed of.
The breakthrough was finally made by crowd favourite Sander van der Heide, who delicately chipped the Venlo keeper to open the scoring and surely the floodgates shortly after the break.
Nassir Maachi, who would later
The south side of the Cambuur Stadion.
suffer a well-struck ball in a very sensitive area, at least made sure he would be in a good mood for it by tapping in a quickfire second.
The atmosphere was excellent, far superior to that created by my beloved Southend (at Roots Hall at least), and was led non-stop by the Ultras behind one goal. Everything was similar to English football; the demographics of the crowd, the architecture of the stadium, the style of play, so why has the atmosphere at English games declined so severely? One for the sociologists, not me.
A refreshing quirk was the vigour in which my adopted team celebrated their 2-0 victory. Subs ran onto the pitch to join the other players, already embroiled in a huddled jig of ecstasy on the halfway line. The kind of celebration you might see if your team won the FA Cup or at the least promotion. Yet here we were, the second game of the Dutch Eerste Divisie (for that is it's name) and they were really going for it. They embarked on a lap of the pitch before saving the piece de resistance - where the players linked arms and thrust them up and
Cambuur defend a VVV Venlo free kick.
down - for the vociferous Ultras.
After the game we visited the Cafe Cambuur, the home fans bar (and the Cambuur equivalent of the Spread for the Blues fans amongst you) for a couple of Herzog Jan's before heading back to the hotel with some reluctance. The young crowd in the bar were just getting started, with rousing anthems in the background, beer flowing and everyone in great spirits. It's the same in any country, a win on a Friday night really sets up the weekend.
The weather was kind the next day, and Leeuwarden revealed itself to be a pretty, tree-lined town with the main drag (with not one but two H & Ms) situated either side of a typical Dutch waterway and teeming with Saturday morning shoppers.
We watched the world go by, including Cambuur's number 9 and a stag party singing Rivers of Babylon atop a trailer being hauled along by a tractor to the chagrin of a pursuing bus, in a cafe which served up a fantastic sandwich with cheese, pepper, paprika, onion and leek for us both.
But this town of around 90,000 could sustain us thrill-seeking Brits no longer. We
The M.I.-Side Ultras make their presence known.
boarded the 2.45pm train bound for Amsterdam.
Tot: 2.31s; Tpl: 0.065s; cc: 11; qc: 52; dbt: 0.0406s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb