Koninklijk Berchem Sport

Ludo Coeck Stadion
Sunday 27 March 2011
Belgian Promotion B
Koninklijk Berchem Sport 1 Koninklijk Racing Club Mechelen 1

The sun was brightly shining down and empty beer cups cluttered the table; this truly seemed like the start of the summer. My hangover was being blitzed with the addition of the sun’s rays and more beer. This was a significant improvement upon how my day had started.

After a session that lasted well over 12 hours in Antwerp the day before, I awoke at midday only as a result of my phone going off. “We’re in the café next to the train station; hurry up!” came the voice on the other end of the line. I rolled out of bed, checked that I had all of my body parts intact, showered and hurried along the street to meet everyone for breakfast. The café was busy; my head was far too fuzzy for anything to register.

Following coffee and a pain au chocolat, we wandered off to the station and jumped on the frequent service to Berchem. On account of my own hangover, I had no idea how the others were faring up, or indeed if they were even hungover. We jumped off the train, walked along the road for about ten minutes and were soon standing outside of the Ludo Coeck Stadion (named after the ex-Berchem and Inter player Ludo Coeck who won 46 caps for Belgium before tragically dying in a car accident at the age of 30).

In the time it took for me and Stuart Fuller to complete our ticket transaction, Big Deaksy had managed to wave some notes around yet still not be in possession of his own tickets (the exact story is available over at The Ball Is Round). Beer was waiting; this was no time for slow service. Eventually we were all in possession of tickets and it was left to Danny Last to stock up on beer coupons in order that we could exchange them for delicious ale at the bar. We grabbed a seat outside and sunned ourselves. The atmosphere was building as more and more people, including the away fans arriving via train with us able to hear them from about one mile away) arrived before we walked to the front of the ground and past some old men who checked our tickets.

Our position of choice for the match was on the old terracing behind the goal. Old stands stood on either side of the pitch with 1,500 Mechelen fans squeezed into one corner. We were able to pop back to the bar and stock back up on beers before settling down for kick-off between two superb eagles.

Now this is usually the point of the report where I cover the match, telling you about splendid moves involving passes sprayed around the pitch. It was a good game but my mind wasn’t really on the pitch too often. Reasons being the beer; the beautiful sunshine; the conversation between Gannin’ Away, European Football Weekends, The Ball Is Round and a large group of Forest Green supporters who were with us; and finally a lady in red jeans. The Champions elect, Mechelen, opened the scoring after about twenty minutes (or beer number two if there is such a counting value) after a lovely finish into the bottom corner. The away fans, who had displayed flares pre-match, went wild; Eden ‘Spencer’ Hazard just sipped his beer.

Just before the end of the match we had to make a sharp exit to catch the Brussels train. As we walked across the car park we heard a nuffled cheer – Berchem had equalised. We jumped on the train and not before too long we were whizzing thorugh Brussels and trying to catch a glimpse of the girls in the windows near the station. We stocked up on beers and jumped on the Eurostar.

I can’t remember too much about the trip back, other than being called a slim Johnny Vegas (???) and recording some thoughts on the weekend with the chaps Fuller and Last. With fifty minutes or so to kill at King’s Cross we headed across to the pub and had a pint. Scotland fans were in full song and so we joined in; yes, the beer was probably to blame but it was a fun experience and more fun than my train journey back up north. I had some cans of Guinness for company but they didn’t last long. At one point I became completely confused as to where I was – luckily the train service was only to Newcastle and so there was no real danger of me missing my stop. Not like the guy on the train journey south the previous morning who slept past his Durham stop as a result of being absolutely steaming from a night out in Toon.

With the late arrival of the train being after the last Metro service I had to fork out for a taxi. First there was time to buy what must have been the worst pizza in the world; luckily I was too trashed to care.

3 Responses to “Koninklijk Berchem Sport”
  1. >Sounds like a rally "tough" weekend. Nice report, especially considering the beers!

  2. Andy says:

    >Luckily, when I come to write about Royal Antwerp it will be about September 1994 and when Newcastle played them; not the evening before this when I was a total mess!

  3. Rene says:

    Nice to see you have been there too that day! The GroundhopperTs from Rotterdam (that is where the added T comes from) were there as well. This is the link to our pics: http://translate.google.nl/translate?sl=nl&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=nl&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ego2.nl%2F1011Ego2FotoBerRMe.htm&act=url (with google translate, because it is in dutch).
    Pics of other trips can be found here: http://www.ego2.nl/Ego2GroundhopperTs.htm
    Grtz from Rotterdam!

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