Sunday, 21 April 2013

VVV-Venlo v FC Twente. 21/04/13

"I know Japanese people are fanatical, but traveling halfway around the world to Venlo just to see Bobby Cullen sit on the bench? That is ridiculous."

VVV-Venlo 2-2 FC Twente. Seacon Stadion.
Sunday 21/04/13
The third and final game of the Dusseldorf 2013 weekend saw us venture across the German-Dutch border for a taste of the Eredivise at the marvelous Seacon Stadion - home of VVV-Venlo. The decision had come about through what is now bordering on a dangerous obsession with Schteve McClaren, who had been due to bring his FC Twente side to Venlo. We'd been kicking ourselves that we never saw the Wally with a Brolly manage at Twente in his first spell, so this was an opportunity not to be missed. Fate is a cruel mistress however and you've guessed it, he resigned two months before the trip.

How's that for a sustainable transport plan?
Luckily we had a back up reason to justify our attendance and that was Roland Bergkamp. The second best player in the Bergkamp family was on-loan to Venlo from our very own Brighton and Hove Albion and some typically creative e-mails from Rumble to the people at Venlo meant that not only did we have tickets for the game, but we also had a signed Roland shirt for our troubles. Winning already.

Wonderful floodlights
After an hour on the train and a 30 minute walk to the outskirts of town, we found ourselves entering a wood. Unlike Hansel and Gretel, we didn't come across a gingerbread house but in fact a stadium in the most surreal of locations. Security was tight as you'd expect from a top flight venue allowing us to walk straight into the ground for a look around, which to be more precise meant wandering into what the Dutch call a cafe but what you and me would more commonly refer to as a supporters bar. We spent 90 minutes in there pre-game sipping on Lindeboom, admiring the wonderfully garish yellow and black decor and receiving complimentary team sheets.

Lindeboom and a complimentary team sheet in the fans cafe
Seacon itself was like nothing you would expect from a top flight stadium. Not just the fact that it's woodland setting made you half expect Legolas and a band of elves to swarm onto the pitch bow and arrows at the ready, but also in it's design. Two small, roofed terraces were present behind one goal and down one side and they were familiar enough to anybody whose seen a League Two. The main stand was a single tiered effort built on a hill, in front of which were some seats cut into a bank. Didn't fancy sitting in your seat? Don't bother then, just stand on the large gravel path between the stand and bank and why not smoke a joint while you are at it.

Seacon Stadion
Some wonderful stand designs at Seacon
The other stand behind the goal was a similar affair to the main stand with the added bonus of a prison cell in the left hand corner where the Twente fans were quite literally penned. They spent the game making quite a racket however, which was no mean feat given how disappointed they should have been not to have Schteve at the helm anymore.

The Twente fans in their cage
But if the stadium was odd, then proceedings got a whole lot weirder before the end. Firstly there was a large gabble of Japanese women who had come purely to see the compatriot Bobby Cullen, who remained on the Venlo bench. Incidentally, that was more than Roland managed as he wasn't even named among the subs. And then there was the halftime entertainment, which featured around eight disabled people attempting to run with a ball from the halfway line and score. This was not put on for sympathetic reasons or to encourage education about disabilities, but purely for entertainment and naturally went down a hoot with the laid back locals - especially when the participants took it upon themselves to do a lap of honour of the ground much to the anger of the organisers who frantically tried to stop them with the second half minutes away.

Disabled people asked to run from the halfway line and score
made for an interesting take on half time entertainment
An impromptu lap of honour causes meltdowns from the
organisers with the second half minutes from starting 
As for the game, relegation threatened Venlo stormed into a 2-0 lead through Nils Roseler and Uche Nwofor. You'd have thought that would get the home fans blood pumping but as one local put it with brutal honesty at half time "no point getting excited, we'll just **** it up." By the hour mark that prediction had come to pass as two goals in a minute for Twent from Rasmus Bengtsson and Luc Castaignos rounded off the scoring as the game finished 2-2.

Don't feel like taking a seat? Just stand wherever you want
That was a serious blow to both Twente's hopes of European qualification and Venlo's of avoiding the drop. After the game we hung around the ground, becoming the envy of teenage Japanese girls everywhere by meeting Mr Cullen as well as Twente star defender and Newcastle United transfer target Douglas. Knowing that the ease with which we met the players afterwards would have meant that long dreamed of photo with Schteve would have happened had he not resigned, the only way to get over that disappointment was wandering into the town centre where there were a number of bars in which the Lindeboom again flowed.

Bobby Cullen fan club one
Bobby Cullen fan club two
Venlo itself was a wonderful little place. The main street was packed with a variety of drinking establishments, from dank and dark British style pubs to continental cafe bars with strong Dutch beer aplenty. Unfortunately, we had a train to catch back to Dusseldorf Airport which meant that we only got to experience a couple of these venues and Venlo really wasn't enjoyed to it's full potential. So if somebody at Brighton and Hove Albion is reading this, if you could do us a favour and send another awful player on-loan there so we have an excuse to go back it would be greatly appreciated.

Rumble and Douglas - nice bag
Dutch beer in Venlo. We didn't have time for a pint of each
VVV-Venlo: Niki Maenpaa, Guus Joppen, Marcel Seip, Nils Roseler 1, Jeffrey Leiwakabessy, Kaj Ramsteijn, Aleksandar Radosavljevic, Ahmed Ammi (Ricky van Haaren), Bryan Linssen (Oguzhan Turk), Yuki Otsu (Yanic Wildschut), Uche Nwofor 1.

FC Twente: Nikolay Mihaylov, Tim Breukers (Roberto Rosales), Douglas, Rasmus Bengtsson 1, Edson Braafheid, Felipe Gutierrez, Leroy Fer, Willem Janssen (Tim Holscher), Dusan Tadic, Nacer Chadli (Dmitri Bulykin), Luc Castaignos 1.

Attendance: 5,700.

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