Games Without Frontiers: Holland & Belgium 2000 Intro

What did you do on your holidays then? A fortnight in Ibiza “giving it large”? – Perhaps a day trip to Hastings or even three months back-packing round South East Asia… For one group of Gills fans still basking in the post-Wembley glow of serene tranquillity brought about by promotion their summertime destination was Belgium with a dash of the Netherlands thrown in for good measure. Euro 2000 being held in the Low Countries over three weeks in June was just too good an opportunity to pass up. The promised combination of some quality football with equally splendid beer in a welcoming country just two hours away from Kent suggested a football heaven and it didn’t disappoint.

When the tickets for the general public went on sale via the Internet and by post we applied straight away some eighteen months before the tournament itself was due to take place. We applied “blind” not knowing any of the qualifying teams aside from the hosts happy to participate in the lucky dip with prices for the group games beginning at £20.00. It should be emphasised that we were not expecting to see England, nor did some of our number want to see them anyway. We were after a nice relaxing time watching a variety of games as neutrals without all the hassle that comes with watching England abroad. Ultimately that it what we got despite all the traditional dire pre-tournament warnings of violent carnage on a grand scale. It ended up being a non-stop orgy of football, beer and mixing with fans from all over Europe in an atmosphere of heady euphoria. It was bliss.

 

The Binman

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