Zidane & Beautiful Football

August 20, 2000

Sunday 25th June 2000, Bruges

France 2-1 Spain (30,000)

This was a perfect day. The sort of day you dream about when you’re booking tickets for non-existent games eighteen months before they even happen. We arrived in Bruges from Brussels for the last time. It was a glorious day and the clash between the French and Spanish promised a great deal. We even had time to do the toursity bit by going up the tower by the main square (except Matt naturally) and buying chocolates for loved ones.

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Distant Quality

August 20, 2000

Saturday 24th June 2000, Brussels

Italy 2-0 Romania (42,500)

Well we fulfilled our bit of the equation, we made it to the Roi Baudouin Stadium in Brussels for the Euro 2000 quarter-finals and so did the Italians but instead of En-ger-lund we got Romania. It made for a relaxing crossing by Eurostar and a fantastic weekend but part of me regretted the fact that Phil fucking Neville gave away a needless penalty in the dying seconds of England’s deciding game with Romania. So we got to see Hagi rather than the Neville brothers.

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Whoops!

August 20, 2000

Wednesday 21st June 2000, Bruges

Spain 4-3 Yugoslavia (22,000)

Having enjoyed two days off for good behaviour it was time to return to the land of Euro 2000, but just for the day thanks to the close proximity of Bruges to Kent. Sean, Dave and I headed for Ostend on the Seacat minus the fourth person in our party. Lee was still recovering from his night spent on the streets of Bruges…

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“Aaahhh, Nicky Southall – FA Cup!”

August 20, 2000

Sunday 18th June 2000, Liege

Yugoslavia 1-0 Norway (27,000)

Another day, another match, another slog across Belgium for poor old Chris. The Utrecht hotel debacle really stuffed up our itinerary, but it was the last game before we could go home so we girded our loins, packed our bags and headed for Liege. We had been short of one ticket for the Norway vs. Yugoslavia game but the trusty black market worked it’s magic and I picked one up for £15. The game didn’t promise much really but we knew the Yugoslavian side would play with skill, spite and cynicism and that the Norwegian hordes would be good for a laugh.

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A Trip Too Far…

August 20, 2000

Saturday 17th June 2000, Arnhem

Portugal 1-0 Romania (18,000)

It is possible to have too much beer and football:- OFFICIAL! It might seem like heresy but the heavy nights on the strong Belgian beer began to take their toll. Lee, Dave, Sean, Chay and Bjorn were ready for a rest after the madness of the previous six days and nights. They were sorry to go but were knackered. That left myself (the Binman), Chris and Matt to negotiate the next two days. Poor old Chris was saddled with the driving. The weather was getting hotter and hotter and tempers began to fray. Matt’s map reading skills or lack of them didn’t help but basically we were tired and wanted to collapse in a heap. We couldn’t because in our wallets were tickets for Portugal vs. Romania in Arnhem.

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Drinking Until Dawn…

August 20, 2000

Friday 16th June 2000, Bruges

France 2-1 Czech Republic (28,000)

After a two day period of rest and recuperation in Brussels it was time to return to Bruges and the Inter Hotel, De Pub and the Jan Breydal Stadium and another look at the fantastic French. Their opponents were to be the Czech Republic in a crunch match for the Czechs who had to avoid defeat at the very least. They promised to be more worthy opponents than the Danes and their support promised to be lots of fun if Euro ‘96 was anything to go by.

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Rest & Recuperation At The “LopLop” Cafe

August 20, 2000

Wednesday 14th June & Thursday 15th June 2000

After all the travelling, beer drinking and football watching it was time for a bit of rest and recuperation in Brussels. We had two days off for good behaviour. The plan was to do the touristy thing. Chris got a respite from driving and we just explored the city. First stop was the Mannequin Pis, a small statue of a boy pissing with the inevitable water feature included. We then headed for our first bar as recommended by Nigel’s beer guide to Brussels. As you can imagine they day soon turned into a bit of a pub-crawl except for the visit to the beer museum… The Grand Place in the centre of Brussels is architecturally stunning but a bit of a tourist trap so we tended to try the less obvious bars down side streets. One of them happened to be the Lop Lop cafe which happened to have a beer menu with over one hundred different beers. We’d found our spiritual home…

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